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Prince of Wales

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prince of Wales
Tywysog Cymru
Prince of Wales's feathers Badge.svg
since 9 September 2022
StyleHis Royal Highness
Member ofBritish royal family
AppointerMonarch of the United Kingdom (previously of England)
Term lengthLife tenure or until accession as sovereign
  • 1165 (Welsh title)
  • 1301 (English/British title)
First holder

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. Prior to the conquest of Wales by Edward I in the 13th century, it was used by the rulers of independent Wales.

The first Welsh prince of Wales was Owain ap Gruffydd (also known as Owain Gwynedd or Owain the Great), King of Gwynedd, who first titled himself as such in a letter to Louis VII of France in 1165.[1]

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, and the establishment of English rule over all of Wales, 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 title is a subject of controversy in Wales.

The incumbent, William, received the title on 9 September 2022, the day after his father's accession to the throne as Charles III.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Why is the Heir to the British Throne Called the Prince of Wales?
  • Prince Charles: Investiture of the Prince of Wales aka POW (1969) | British Pathé
  • The Bizarre Origins of the Prince of Wales
  • Why Was King Charles III Called The Prince Of Wales?
  • Investiture Of The Prince Of Wales (1969)


Native princes of Wales

Before prince 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,[2][3] who was referred to as 'King of Wales' or Rex Walensium by John of Worcester.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

End of native princes of Wales

Monument to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in Cilmeri where he was killed in 1282
Monument to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in Cilmeri where he was killed in 1282

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.[7][8][9] Llywelyn's brother, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, took over leadership of Welsh fighters, but was captured and executed in 1283.[10]

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.[11][12][13][14] Almost two decades later, Edward appointed his son and heir, Edward of Caernarfon, as prince of Wales.

Owain Glyndŵr

Statue of Owain Glyndŵr in Corwen
Y Ddraig Aur ('The Golden Dragon'), a flag carried by Owain Glyndŵr
Y Ddraig Aur ('The Golden Dragon'), a flag carried by Owain Glyndŵr

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.[15][16] 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.[17][18]

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 guerrilla tactics. The last documented sighting of Owain Glyndŵr was in 1412 and his death was recorded by a former follower in the year 1415.[19]


Arms used by the Gwynedd princes of Wales
Arms used by the Gwynedd princes of Wales

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd

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

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.[20]

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,[20] and is associated with Welsh nationhood.[21][22]

As title of the English and British heir apparent

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).[23]

William Camden's Britannia describes the beginning of the English prince of Wales as heir apparent after Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was "slain":[24]

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.[25]

— 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.[26] 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.[27] It was brought into force on 26 March 2015,[28] at the same time as the other realms implemented the Perth Agreement in their own laws.[29]

Titles and roles

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.[30]

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.[31]

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.[32] The prince of Wales has also been granted the authority to issue royal warrants.[33]

British (formerly English) insignia

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.[34]

The heraldic badge of the three feathers is the badge of the duke of Cornwall, or heir apparent to the British throne.[35] 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).[36] The Black Prince also used heraldic badges of one or more ostrich feathers in various other contexts.[37]

Opposition to the title

Welsh people opposing to the investiture of Prince Charles at Caernarfon Castle
Welsh people opposing to the investiture of Prince Charles at Caernarfon Castle

While Prince Charles's 1969 investiture was "largely welcomed" in Wales,[38] 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.[39][40] Multiple Welsh organisations and individuals were against the event, including Dafydd Iwan,[41] Edward Millward,[42] Cofia 1282 ('Remember 1282'),[43] and the Welsh Language Society.[44] On the day of the investiture, a few protesters were arrested.[45]

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),[46][47] Republic,[48] Michael Sheen,[49] and Dafydd Elis-Thomas.[50] 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.[51] Mark Drakeford,[52] Adam Price,[53] Jane Dodds,[54] and YesCymru[55] have all acknowledged a potential for a debate or have suggested potential for Welsh decision. On 6 October 2022, 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.[56]

Opinion polls

A BBC Wales poll in 1999 found that 73% of Welsh speakers wanted the position of Prince of Wales to continue.[57]

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.[58]

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.[59]

List of princes of Wales (English or British heirs apparent)

Person Name Heir of Birth Became heir apparent Created Prince of Wales Ceased to be Prince of Wales Death
Edward I and II.jpg
Edward of Caernarfon Edward I 25 April 1284 19 August 1284 7 February 1301[30] 7 July 1307
acceded to throne as Edward II
21 September 1327
Plantagenet, Edward, The Black Prince, Iconic Image.JPG
Edward of Woodstock Edward III 15 June 1330 12 May 1343[30] 8 June 1376
Richard of Bordeaux 6 January 1367 8 June 1376 20 November 1376[30] 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[30] 21 March 1413
acceded to throne as Henry V
31 August 1422
Edward of Westminster Henry VI 13 October 1453 15 March 1454[30] 11 April 1471
father deposed
4 May 1471
Edward of York Edward IV 4 November 1470 11 April 1471 26 June 1471[30] 9 April 1483
acceded to throne as Edward V
Rous Roll - Edward, Prince of Wales.jpg
Edward of Middleham Richard III 1473 26 June 1483 24 August 1483[30] 31 March or
9 April 1484
Arthur Prince of Wales c 1500.jpg
Arthur Tudor Henry VII 20 September 1486 29 November 1489[30] 2 April 1502
HenryVIII 1509.jpg
Henry Tudor 28 June 1491 2 April 1502 18 February 1504[30] 21 April 1509
acceded to throne as Henry VIII
28 January 1547
Edouard VI Tudor.jpg
Edward Tudor Henry VIII 12 October 1537 c. 18 October 1537[60][61] 28 January 1547
acceded to throne as Edward VI
6 July 1553
Henry Prince of Wales after Isaac Oliver.jpg
Henry Frederick Stuart James I 19 February 1594 24 March 1603 4 June 1610[30] 6 November 1612
Charles I (Prince of Wales).jpg
Charles Stuart 19 November 1600 6 November 1612 4 November 1616[30] 27 March 1625
acceded to throne as Charles I
30 January 1649
King Charles II by Adriaen Hanneman.jpg
Charles Stuart Charles I 29 May 1630 c. 1638–1641[30] 30 January 1649
title abolished;
later (1660) acceded to throne as Charles II
6 February 1685
Prince James Francis Edward Stuart by Alexis Simon Belle.jpg
James Francis Edward Stuart James II 10 June 1688 c. 4 July 1688[30] 11 December 1688[62]
father deposed
1 January 1766
Kneller - George II when Prince of Wales.png
George Augustus George I 10 November 1683 1 August 1714 27 September 1714[30][63] 11 June 1727
acceded to throne as George II
25 October 1760
Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales by Philip Mercier.jpg
Frederick Louis George II 1 February 1707 11 June 1727 7 January 1728[30][64] 31 March 1751
George, Prince of Wales, later George III, 1754 by Liotard.jpg
George William Frederick 4 June 1738 31 March 1751 20 April 1751[30][65] 25 October 1760
acceded to throne as George III
29 January 1820
George IV bust1.jpg
George Augustus Frederick George III 12 August 1762 17 August 1762[30][66] 29 January 1820
acceded to throne as George IV
26 June 1830
Prince of Wales00.jpg
Albert Edward Victoria 9 November 1841 8 December 1841[30][67] 22 January 1901
acceded to throne as Edward VII
6 May 1910
George V of the United Kingdom01.jpg
George Frederick Ernest Albert Edward VII 3 June 1865 22 January 1901 9 November 1901[30][68] 6 May 1910
acceded to throne as George V
20 January 1936
HRH The Prince of Wales No 4 (HS85-10-36416).jpg
Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David George V 23 June 1894 6 May 1910 23 June 1910[30][69] 20 January 1936
acceded to throne as Edward VIII;
later (1937) Duke of Windsor
28 May 1972
Prince Charles in Aotearoa (cropped).jpg
Charles Philip Arthur George Elizabeth II 14 November 1948 6 February 1952 26 July 1958[30][70] 8 September 2022
acceded to throne as Charles III
William Sumbarines Crop.png
William Arthur Philip Louis Charles III 21 June 1982 8 September 2022 9 September 2022[71][72] Incumbent living

The current sovereign Charles III was the longest serving prince of Wales for 64 years and 44 days between 1958 and 2022. He was also heir apparent for longer than any other in British history.[73] Upon the death of his mother on 8 September 2022, Charles became king and the title merged with the Crown.[74] The following day, King Charles III bestowed the title upon his elder son, Prince William, Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge.[75][71]

Family tree

See also


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