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Prince of Wales

The eldest son of the reigning monarch of England/Great Britain is traditionally invested with the title of Prince of Wales. This tradition began in 1301, when King Edward I of England, having completed the Norman conquest of Wales, gave the title to his heir, Prince Edward (later King Edward II of England). The famous story that the king promised the rebellious Welsh natives "a prince born in Wales, who did not speak a word of English" and then produced his infant son may well be apocryphal, as it can only be traced to the 16th century. However, Edward II certainly was born at Caernarfon while his father was campaigning in Wales; and like all infants could not at the time speak English. (Indeed, growing up in the royal court over the succeeding years his first language may well have been Norman French, not English.)

Prior to the conquest of Wales, only a handful of native princes had claimed the title of Prince of Wales, the country having been divided into smaller principalities for most of the post-Roman period. In 1258, the title was claimed by Llywelyn the Last, Prince of Gwynedd, having been briefly held by his uncle, Dafydd ap Llywelyn, who was recognised by King Henry III of England as rightful ruler. In 1301, Edward I conquered Wales and granted the Principality to his eldest son, also named Edward. The Principality, nowadays, is always conferred along with the Earldom of Chester. The convention began only in 1399; all previous Princes of Wales also received the earldom, but separately from the Principality. Indeed, before 1272 a hereditary and not necessarily royal Earldom of Chester had already been created several times, eventually merging in the crown each time. The earldom was recreated, merging in the Crown in 1307 and again in 1327. Its creations since have been associated with the creations of the Principality of Wales.

The Principality of Wales and Earldom of Chester must be created, and are not automatically acquired like the Dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay, which are the Heir Apparent's titles in England and Scotland, respectively (note: the heir apparent is not necessarily Duke of Cornwall, see Duke of Cornwall for more details). The dignities are not hereditary, but may be re-created if the Prince of Wales predeceases the King. For example, when Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales predeceased King George II, his eldest son, Prince George (the future George III) was created Prince of Wales.

Princes of Wales may be invested, but investiture is not necessary to be created Prince of Wales. Peers were also invested, but investitures for peers ceased in 1621, during a time when peerages were being created so frequently that the investiture ceremony became cumbersome. Most investitures for Princes of Wales were held in front of Parliament, but in 1911, the future Edward VIII was invested in Caernarvon Castle in Wales. The present Prince of Wales was also invested there, in 1969. During the reading of the letters patent creating the Principality, the Honours of the Principality of Wales are delivered to the Prince. The coronet of the heir-apparent bears four-crosses pattée alternating with four fleurs-de-lis, surmounted by a single arch (the Sovereign's crowns are of the same design, but use two arches). A gold rod is also used in the insignia; gold rods were formally used in the investitures of dukes, but survive now in the investitures of Princes of Wales only. Also part of the insignia are a ring, a sword and a robe.

The Prince of Wales is styled His Royal Highness (HRH). The same style is given to the Princess of Wales, by virtue of her marriage. However, as was shown in the case of Diana, Princess of Wales, the style lapses if a Prince and Princess divorce, as it is only hers by virtue of marriage to the Prince of Wales, not in her own right.

The holders of the title have been:

Prince of Wales Parent From To
Edward Edward I 1301 1307 (acceded as Edward II)
Edward, the Black Prince Edward III 1330 1376 (death)
Richard of Bordeaux Edward, the Black Prince 1376 1377 (acceded as Richard II)
Henry of Monmouth Henry IV 1399 1413 (acceded as Henry V)
Edward, Duke of Cornwall Henry VI 1453 1471 (death)
Edward Plantagenet Edward IV 1470 1483 (acceded as Edward V)
Edward, Duke of Cornwall Richard III 1483 1484 (death)
Arthur, Duke of Cornwall Henry VII 1486 1502 (death)
Henry, Duke of Cornwall Henry VII 1502 1509 (acceded as Henry VIII)
Henry, Duke of Cornwall James I 1603 1612 (death)
Charles, Duke of Cornwall James I 1612 1625 (acceded as Charles I)
Charles, Duke of Cornwall Charles I 1630 1649 (acceded as Charles II)
James Francis Edward Stuart James II 1688 1689 (father's deposition)
George Augustus, Duke of Cornwall George I 1714 1727 (acceded as George II)
Frederick Lewis, Duke of Cornwall George II 1727 1751 (death)
George Frederick 1751 1760 (acceded as George III)
George, Duke of Cornwall George III 1762 1820 (acceded as George IV)
HRH Prince Albert Edward Victoria 1841 1901 (acceded as Edward VII)
HRH Prince George, Duke of Cornwall Edward VII 1901 1910 (acceded as George V)
HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Cornwall George V 1910 1936 (acceded as Edward VIII)
HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall Elizabeth II 1958  

See also

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