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Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales's feathers Badge.svg
William Sumbarines Crop.png

since 9 September 2022
Style His Royal Highness
Residence Adelaide Cottage, England
Appointer Sovereign of the United Kingdom (previously the Sovereign of England)
Term length Life tenure or until accession as Sovereign
Formation 1301

Prince of Wales (Welsh: Tywysog Cymru Latin: Princeps Cambriae/Walliae) is a title historically used by native, independent Welsh princes and since the 14th century by the heir apparent of the English and later British throne.

Historically, the title was held by native Welsh princes before the 12th century; the term replaced the use of the word king. The first holder of the title Prince of Wales (and also King of Wales) was Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd, Wales in 1137, although his son Owain Gwynedd (also King and Prince of Wales), 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 native Princes of Wales and grandson of Llywelyn the Great was Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Last), who was killed at the Battle of Orewin Bridge in 1282. Llywelyn's brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd was hanged the following year, thus ending Welsh independence. Following these two deaths, Edward I of England invested his son Prince Edward (born in Caernarfon Castle in 1284) as the first English "Prince of Wales" in 1301. The title was claimed by the Welsh heir of Gwynedd, Owain Glyndŵr from ~1400 until ~1415 (date of his assumed death) who led Welsh forces against the English. Since then, the title has only been held by the heir of the English and subsequently British monarch.

The English (later British) title is not heritable, as it is merged with the Crown on accession to the throne. Since 1301, the title Earl of Chester has been given in conjunction with that of Prince of Wales. 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. Since the 14th century, the title has been a dynastic 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. On 8 September 2022 the title merged with the Crown when its previous (and longest-serving) holder, Prince Charles, became King upon the death of his mother Elizabeth II. The following day, King Charles III bestowed the title upon his son Prince William, Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge.

There has been some opposition in Wales to the use of the non-native "Prince of Wales" title. The investiture of Charles led to widespread protest and the naming of William as "Prince of Wales" by Charles prompted two thousand Welsh people to sign a petition against the move.

Native Princes of Wales

Prince of Wales
Arms of Owain Glyndŵr.svg
Arms of Owain Lawgoch and Owain Glyndwr as Prince of Wales
Arms of Llywelyn.svg
Arms of Kingdom of Gwynedd and of Gwynedd Princes of Wales
Owain Glyndwr - - 3392313.jpg
Statue of Owain Glyndwr
First holder Gruffudd ap Cynan ("Prince of the Welsh")
Final holder Owain Glyndwr

Before Prince of Wales

Prior to the King or Prince of Wales title, the title King of the Britons was used to describe the King of the Celtic Britons, ancestors of the Welsh. The Brut y Tywysogion, Gwentian Chronicles of Caradoc of Llancarvan version, which was written no earlier than the mid 16th century lists multiple Kings of the Britons as a "King of Wales".

While many different leaders in Wales claimed the title of 'King of Wales' and some ruled a majority of Wales, the modern-day territory of Wales was only fully united under the direct rule of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn from 1055 to 1063 according to historian John Davies. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was referred to as King of Wales or Rex Walensium by John of Worcester. He was the last of a long line of paramount rulers among the insular Britons to have the title of King of the Britons bestowed upon him, and possibly the only one to truly rule over all the (independent) Britons. By this time, if not earlier, Wales was the only part of Britain remaining under Brittonic rule.

The native use of the title 'Prince of Wales' appeared more frequent by the eleventh century as a 'modernised' or reformed form of the old high kingship of the Britons. The Welsh had originally been the high Kings of the Britons; but the claim to be high king of late Romano-British Britain was no longer realistic after the death of Cadwaladr in 664. Cadwaldr was also heavily associated with the symbol of the Red Dragon of Wales. The princes of the medieval period hailed largely from west Wales, mainly Gwynedd. They had significant authority which allowed them to claim authority beyond the borders of their kingdoms. This allowed many Princes to claim to rule all Wales.

End of native Princes of Wales

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Last), the last Prince of Wales was ambushed and killed in 1282. The execution of his brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd in 1283 on the orders of King Edward I of England effectively ended Welsh independence. The title of Prince of Wales was then used by the English monarchy for the heir to the English throne.

Rival Princes of Wales

During the period 1400–1413, after a rebellion against English rule in Wales, there existed a native Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndŵr and a Prince of Wales (who later became Henry V of England) appointed by the English monarchy. The native Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndwr led Welsh forces against the English Prince of Wales and English rule in Wales.

Welsh arms

Llywelyn the Last

The monument to Llywelyn the Last at Cilmery in snow - - 2179424
Monument to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Last) in Cilmeri where he was killed in 1282

The 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. The first is named after Cunedda, the founding king of Gwynedd; and the second after Aberffraw, the old capital of Gwynedd. The senior line of the House of Aberffraw, descended from Llywelyn the Great in patrilineal succession, became extinct on the death of Owain Lawgoch in 1378.

Owain Glyndwr

Owain Glyndwr adapted the House of Gwynedd arms by making the lions rampant, making clear his descent from the princes of Gwynedd and Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (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. Glyndwr's father was a hereditary prince of Powys Fadog. Glyndwr's mother was noblewoman of Deheubarth. The Glyndwr arms was also used as a banner, carried into battle against the English. This banner is a symbol of Welsh defiance, resilience and protest.

As title of the heir apparent

According to conventional wisdom, since 1301 the Prince of Wales has usually been the eldest living son (if and 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). Following the death of Prince Arthur, the Prince of Wales, Henry VII invested his second son, the future Henry VIII, with the title – although only after it was clear that Arthur's wife, Catherine of Aragon, was not pregnant. When Frederick, Prince of Wales died while his father reigned, George II created Frederick's son George (the king's grandson and new heir apparent) Prince of Wales. The title is not automatic and is not heritable; it merges into the Crown when a prince accedes to the throne, or lapses on his death leaving the sovereign free to re-grant it to the new heir apparent (such as the late prince's son or brother). Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales when nine years old on 26 July 1958, some six years after he became heir apparent, and invested eleven years later at age twenty, on 1 July 1969. 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

Along with the other Commonwealth realms, the United Kingdom in 2011 committed to the Perth Agreement, which proposed changes to the laws governing succession, including altering the primogeniture to absolute cognatic. 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.

Titles and roles

Since 1301, the title Earl of Chester has been granted to each heir apparent to the English throne who was also Prince of Wales. Both titles are given to each individual holder by the Sovereign and are not automatically acquired. The Duchy of Cornwall was created in 1337 by Edward III King of England for his son and heir to the English crown, Prince Edward. A charter was created which ruled that the eldest heir to the English throne would be the Duke of Cornwall.

The Prince of Wales is traditionally the heir apparent of the monarch of the United Kingdom. No formal public role or responsibility has been legislated by Parliament or otherwise delegated to him by law or custom, either as heir apparent or as Prince of Wales. In that role before her death, Charles often assisted the Queen in the performance of her duties, for example, representing the Queen when welcoming dignitaries to London and attending state dinners during state visits. He also represented the Queen and the United Kingdom overseas at state and ceremonial occasions such as state funerals. The Prince of Wales has also been granted the authority to issue royal warrants by the monarch.

British (formerly English) insignia

As heir apparent to the reigning 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 King Edward VIII in 1910, and followed by the most recent Prince of Wales, the future 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, the Black Prince (1330–1376), eldest son and heir apparent of King Edward III of England. The Black Prince 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.

Opposition to the title

Cofia 1282, a protest against the investiture (1537984)4
Many Welsh people were opposed to the investiture of Prince Charles at Caernarfon Castle.

The investiture of Charles was controversial and led to widespread protests. On the day of the investiture, a few nonviolent protesters were arrested.

In 2021, the group Republic crowdfunded billboards across Wales calling for the abolition of the monarchy, with billboards appearing in Wales declaring in both Welsh and English that "Wales doesn't need a prince", referring to Charles. In 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas expressed his opinion that the title "doesn't make any sense". A petition calling for the end of the Prince of Wales title gathered thousands of signatures in less than 24hrs following the vacancy of the Prince of Wales title.

Opinion Polls

A BBC Wales poll in 1999 finding that 73 per cent of Welsh speakers want the position of Prince of Wales to continue.

A BBC poll in 2009, marking the 40th anniversary of the investiture, showed that 38 per cent of the Welsh population was in favour of a similar public ceremony for Prince William after Prince Charles becomes king.

A poll in July 2018 again found the 57% of Welsh people in support of the title passing on when the current prince becomes king with 27% opposed, support for a similar investiture was less certain however, with 31% supporting, 27% opposed and 18% wanting a different kind of investiture.

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 Carnarvon Edward I 25 April 1284 19 August 1284 7 February 1301 7 July 1307
acceded to throne as Edward II
21 September 1327
Plantagenet, Edward, The Black Prince, Iconic Image.JPG Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince Edward III 15 June 1330 12 May 1343 8 June 1376
RichardIIWestminsterHead.JPG Richard of Bordeaux 6 January 1367 8 June 1376 20 November 1376 22 June 1377
acceded to throne as Richard II
14 February 1400
Henry5.JPG 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.4.plantagenet.jpg Edward of Westminster Henry VI 13 October 1453 15 March 1454 11 April 1471
father deposed
4 May 1471
King-edward-v.jpg Edward of York Edward IV 4 November 1470 11 April 1471 26 June 1471 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 31 March or
9 April 1484
Arthur Prince of Wales c 1500.jpg Arthur Tudor Henry VII 20 September 1486 29 November 1489 2 April 1502
HenryVIII 1509.jpg Henry Tudor 28 June 1491 2 April 1502 18 February 1504 21 April 1509
acceded to throne as Henry VIII
28 January 1547
Edouard VI Tudor.jpg Edward Tudor Henry VIII 12 October 1537 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 6 November 1612
Charles I (Prince of Wales).jpg Charles Stuart 19 November 1600 6 November 1612 4 November 1616 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 declared c. 1638–1641 30 January 1649
title abolished;
later (1660) acceded to throne as Charles II
6 February 1685
Pretend3.jpeg James Francis Edward Stuart James II 10 June 1688 c. 4 July 1688 11 December 1688
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 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 8 January 1729 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 25 October 1760
acceded to throne as George III
29 January 1820
George IV bust1.jpg George Augustus Frederick George III 12 August 1762 19 August 1762 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 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 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 20 January 1936
acceded to throne as Edward VIII;
later (1937) Duke of Windsor
28 May 1972
2019 Reunião Bilateral com o Príncipe Charles - 48948389972 (cropped).jpg Charles Philip Arthur George Elizabeth II 14 November 1948 6 February 1952 26 July 1958 8 September 2022
acceded to throne as Charles III
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at the opening of 2021 Earthshot Prize.jpg 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.

Family tree

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Príncipe de Gales para niños

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