|Prince of Wales|
|Style||His Royal Highness|
|Member of||British royal family|
|Appointer||Monarch of the United Kingdom (previously of England)|
|Term length||Life tenure or until accession as sovereign|
Prince of Wales (Welsh: Tywysog Cymru, pronounced [təu̯ˈəsoɡ ˈkəmrɨ]; Latin: Princeps Cambriae/Walliae) is a title traditionally given to the heir apparent to the English and later British throne. Before Edward I's conquest in the 13th century, it was used by the rulers of independent Wales.
The first native Welsh prince was Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd, in 1137, although his son Owain Gwynedd (Owain ap Gruffudd) is often cited as having established the title. Llywelyn the Great is typically regarded as the strongest leader, holding power over the vast majority of Wales for 45 years. One of the last independent princes was Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (Llywelyn the Last), who was killed at the Battle of Orewin Bridge in 1282. His brother, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, was executed the following year. After these two deaths, Edward I of England invested his son Edward of Caernarfon as the first English Prince of Wales in 1301. The title was later claimed by the heir of Gwynedd, Owain Glyndŵr (Owain ap Gruffydd), from 1400 until 1415 (date of his assumed death) who led Welsh forces against the English. Since then, it has only been held by the heir apparent of the English and subsequently British monarch.
The current incumbent, William, received the title on 9 September 2022, the day after his father's accession to the throne as Charles III.
Main article: List of rulers of Wales
While many different Welsh rulers claimed the title of 'King of Wales' and some ruled a majority of the country, the modern-day territory was only fully united between 1055 and 1063, under the direct rule of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, who was referred to as 'King of Wales' or Rex Walensium by John of Worcester.
The native use of the title 'Prince of Wales' appeared more frequently by the eleventh century as a modernised form of the old 'King of the Britons', a title used to describe the leader of the Celtic Britons, ancestors of the Welsh. The princes of the medieval period hailed largely from west Wales, mainly Gwynedd. They had significant power which allowed them to claim authority beyond the borders of their kingdoms.
See also: English rule in Wales
Following the uniting of Wales under the rule of the Llywelyn princes, Edward I of England led 15,000 men to capture Wales. Resistance was led by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd who was killed by English soldiers in an ambush trick at the Battle of Orewin Bridge. Llywelyn's brother, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, took over leadership of Welsh fighters, but was captured and executed in 1283.
After the deaths of Llywelyn and Dafydd, King Edward introduced the royal ordinance of the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. The statute was a constitutional change causing Wales to lose its de facto independence and formed the Principality of Wales within the Realm of England. Almost two decades later, Edward appointed his son and heir, Edward of Caernarfon, as prince of Wales.
See also: Welsh Wars of Independence
With the assassination of Owain Lawgoch in 1378, the senior line of the House of Aberffraw (descended from Llywelyn the Great in patrilineal succession) became extinct. As a result, the claim of the title 'Prince of Wales' fell to the other royal dynasties of Wales, namely Deheubarth and Powys. The leading heir in this respect was Owain Glyndŵr who was descended from both dynasties.
Glyndŵr was announced as prince of Wales in Glyndyfrdwy on 16 September 1400, and with his armies, he proceeded to attack English towns in north-east Wales. Henry IV led several attempted invasions but with limited success, while Owain solidified his control of the nation.
However, in 1407, the much larger and better equipped English forces began to overwhelm the Welsh and by 1409 they had reconquered most of the region. Glyndŵr fought on until he was cornered and under siege at Harlech Castle. He managed to escape and retreated to the Welsh wilderness with a band of loyal supporters, where he refused to surrender and continued the war with guerilla tactics. The last documented sighting of Owain Glyndŵr was in 1412 and his death was recorded by a former follower in the year 1415.
Three native princes of Wales used the House of Gwynedd arms. The House of Gwynedd is divided between the earlier House of Cunedda, which lasted from c. 420–825, and the later House of Aberffraw, beginning in 844.
Owain Glyndŵr adapted the House of Gwynedd arms by making the lions rampant, making clear his descent from the princes of Gwynedd and Llywelyn the Last, and his defence of Wales. It is also suggested that this design was influenced by the arms of Powys Fadog and the coat of Deheubarth. Glyndŵr's father was a hereditary prince of Powys Fadog and his mother was noblewoman of Deheubarth.
The Glyndŵr arms were also used as a banner, carried into battle against the English. This banner is a symbol of Welsh defiance, resilience and protest, and is associated with Welsh nationhood.
See also: Investiture of the Prince of Wales
According to conventional wisdom, since 1301 the prince of Wales has usually been the eldest living son (only if he is also the heir apparent) of the King or Queen Regnant of England (subsequently of Great Britain, 1707, and of the United Kingdom, 1801).
The title is neither automatic or heritable; it merges with the Crown when its holder eventually accedes to the throne, or reverts to the Crown if its holder predeceases the current monarch, leaving the sovereign free to grant it to the new heir apparent (such as the late prince's son or brother).
William Camden's Britannia describes the beginning of the English prince of Wales as heir apparent after Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was "slain":
As concerning the Princes of Wales of British bloud in ancient times, you may reade in the Historie of Wales published in print. For my part I thinke it requisite and pertinent to my intended purpose to set downe summarily those of latter daies, descended from the roiall line of England. King Edward the First, unto whom his father King Henrie the Third had granted the Principalitie of Wales, when hee had obtained the Crowne and Lhewellin Ap Gryffith, the last Prince of the British race, was slain, and therby the sinewes as it were of the principalitie were cut, in the twelft yeere of his reigne united the same unto the Kingdome of England. And the whole province sware fealty and alleageance unto Edward of Caernarvon his sonne, whom hee made Prince of Wales. But King Edward the Second conferred not upon his sonne Edward the title of Prince of Wales, but onely the name of Earle of Chester and of Flint, so farre as ever I could learne out of the Records, and by that title summoned him to Parliament, being then nine yeres old. King Edward the Third first created his eldest sonne Edward surnamed the Blacke Prince, the Mirour of Chivalrie (being then Duke of Cornwall and Earle of Chester), Prince of Wales by solemne investure, with a cap of estate and Coronet set on his head, a gold ring put upon his finger, and a silver vierge delivered into his hand, with the assent of Parliament.— William Camden, Britannia (1607)
In 2011, along with the other Commonwealth realms, the United Kingdom committed to the Perth Agreement, which proposed changes to the laws governing succession, including altering the male-preference primogeniture to absolute primogeniture. The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 was introduced to the British parliament on 12 December 2012, published the next day, and received royal assent on 25 April 2013. It was brought into force on 26 March 2015, at the same time as the other realms implemented the Perth Agreement in their own laws.
After the conquest, 'Prince of Wales' has been a substantive title traditionally (but not necessarily) granted by the English or British monarch to the son or grandson who is the heir apparent to the throne.
Since 1301, the title 'Earl of Chester' has generally been granted to each heir apparent to the English throne, and from the late 14th century it has been given only in conjunction with that of 'Prince of Wales'. Both titles are bestowed to each individual by the sovereign and are not automatically acquired.
The prince of Wales usually has other titles and honours, if the eldest son of the monarch; typically this means being duke of Cornwall, which, unlike being prince of Wales, inherently includes lands and constitutional and operational responsibilities. The duchy of Cornwall was created in 1337 by Edward III for his son and heir, Edward of Woodstock (also known as 'The Black Prince'). A charter was also created which ruled that the eldest son of the king would be the duke of Cornwall.
No formal public role or responsibility has been legislated by Parliament or otherwise delegated to the prince of Wales by law or custom. In that role, Charles often assisted Elizabeth II in the performance of her duties. He represented her when welcoming dignitaries to London and during state visits. He also represented the Queen and the United Kingdom overseas at state and ceremonial occasions such as funerals. The prince of Wales has also been granted the authority to issue royal warrants.
Main article: Coat of arms of the Prince of Wales
As heir apparent to the sovereign, the prince of Wales bears the royal arms differenced by a white label of three points. To represent Wales he bears the coat of arms of the Principality of Wales, crowned with the heir apparent's crown, on an inescutcheon-en-surtout. This was first used by the future Edward VIII in 1910, and followed by the most recent prince of Wales, now King Charles III.
The heraldic badge of the three feathers is the badge of the duke of Cornwall, or heir apparent to the British throne. The ostrich feathers heraldic motif is generally traced back to Edward of Woodstock ('The Black Prince'). He bore (as an alternative to his differenced royal arms) a shield of Sable, three ostrich feathers argent, described as his "shield for peace", probably meaning the shield he used for jousting. These arms appear several times on his chest tomb in Canterbury Cathedral, alternating with his paternal royal arms (the royal arms of King Edward III differenced by a label of three points argent). The Black Prince also used heraldic badges of one or more ostrich feathers in various other contexts.
Main article: Controversy of the Prince of Wales title
While Prince Charles's 1969 investiture was "largely welcomed" in Wales, and it was watched by 19 million in the UK and another 500 million around the world, protests described as an anti-investiture movement, also took place in the days leading up to the ceremony. Multiple Welsh organisations and individuals were against the event, including Dafydd Iwan, Edward Millward, Cofia 1282 ('Remember 1282'), and the Welsh Language Society. On the day of the investiture, a few protesters were arrested.
Since then, further prominent organisations and figures in Wales have called for an end to the title including Plaid Cymru (which has since changed its stance), Republic, Michael Sheen, and Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Following Charles III's accession to the throne in September 2022, a petition was launched calling for the abolition of the title "Prince of Wales", which had received over 35,000 signatures. Mark Drakeford, Adam Price, Jane Dodds, and YesCymru have all acknowledged a potential for a debate or have suggested potential for Welsh decision. On the 6th October, Gwynedd Council, the local authority where Charles was invested, voted to declare opposition to the title of 'Prince of Wales' and against holding another investiture in Wales.
A BBC Wales poll in 1999 found that 73% of Welsh speakers wanted the position of Prince of Wales to continue.
A BBC poll in 2009, marking the 40th anniversary of the investiture, indicated that 38% of the Welsh population was in favour of a similar public ceremony for Prince William after Prince Charles became king.
An ITV poll in 2018 found 57% of Welsh people in support of the title passing on when the then prince became king, with 27% opposed. Support for a similar investiture was lower, with 31% supporting, 27% opposed and 18% wanting a different kind of investiture.
|Person||Name||Heir of||Birth||Became heir apparent||Created Prince of Wales||Ceased to be Prince of Wales||Death|
|Edward of Caernarfon||Edward I||25 April 1284||19 August 1284||7 February 1301||7 July 1307
acceded to throne as Edward II
|21 September 1327|
|Edward of Woodstock||Edward III||15 June 1330||12 May 1343||8 June 1376|
|Richard of Bordeaux||6 January 1367||8 June 1376||20 November 1376||22 June 1377
acceded to throne as Richard II
|14 February 1400|
|Henry of Monmouth||Henry IV||16 September 1386||30 September 1399||15 October 1399||21 March 1413
acceded to throne as Henry V
|31 August 1422|
|Edward of Westminster||Henry VI||13 October 1453||15 March 1454||11 April 1471
|4 May 1471|
|Edward of York||Edward IV||4 November 1470||11 April 1471||26 June 1471||9 April 1483
acceded to throne as Edward V
|Edward of Middleham||Richard III||1473||26 June 1483||24 August 1483||31 March or|
9 April 1484
|Arthur Tudor||Henry VII||20 September 1486||29 November 1489||2 April 1502|
|Henry Tudor||28 June 1491||2 April 1502||18 February 1504||21 April 1509
acceded to throne as Henry VIII
|28 January 1547|
|Edward Tudor||Henry VIII||12 October 1537||c. 18 October 1537||28 January 1547
acceded to throne as Edward VI
|6 July 1553|
|Henry Frederick Stuart||James I||19 February 1594||24 March 1603||4 June 1610||6 November 1612|
|Charles Stuart||19 November 1600||6 November 1612||4 November 1616||27 March 1625
acceded to throne as Charles I
|30 January 1649|
|Charles Stuart||Charles I||29 May 1630||c. 1638–1641||30 January 1649
later (1660) acceded to throne as Charles II
|6 February 1685|
|James Francis Edward Stuart||James II||10 June 1688||c. 4 July 1688||11 December 1688
|1 January 1766|
|George Augustus||George I||10 November 1683||1 August 1714||27 September 1714||11 June 1727
acceded to throne as George II
|25 October 1760|
|Frederick Louis||George II||1 February 1707||11 June 1727||7 January 1728||31 March 1751|
|George William Frederick||4 June 1738||31 March 1751||20 April 1751||25 October 1760
acceded to throne as George III
|29 January 1820|
|George Augustus Frederick||George III||12 August 1762||17 August 1762||29 January 1820
acceded to throne as George IV
|26 June 1830|
|Albert Edward||Victoria||9 November 1841||8 December 1841||22 January 1901
acceded to throne as Edward VII
|6 May 1910|
|George Frederick Ernest Albert||Edward VII||3 June 1865||22 January 1901||9 November 1901||6 May 1910
acceded to throne as George V
|20 January 1936|
|Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David||George V||23 June 1894||6 May 1910||23 June 1910||20 January 1936
acceded to throne as Edward VIII;
later (1937) Duke of Windsor
|28 May 1972|
|Charles Philip Arthur George||Elizabeth II||14 November 1948||6 February 1952||26 July 1958||8 September 2022
acceded to throne as Charles III
|William Arthur Philip Louis||Charles III||21 June 1982||8 September 2022||9 September 2022||Incumbent||living|
Queen Elizabeth II's son Charles, was Prince of Wales for 64 years and 44 days between 1958 and 2022, longer than any predecessor. He was also heir apparent for longer than any other in British history. On 8 September 2022 upon the death of Elizabeth II, Charles became king. The following day, King Charles III bestowed the title upon his elder son, Prince William, Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge.
|Princes of Wales, Dukes of Cornwall, Dukes of Rothesay, Earls of Carrick and Earls of Chester family tree|
The plot was carried out (by a Scot) in 1378, and Saint Leger on the banks of the Garonne (opposite Chateau Calon Segur - not a Welsh name, alas) became the burial place of the last of the male line of the house of Aberffraw. Following the extinction of that line,...