Prince Charles is the current and longest-serving Prince of Wales. It was announced Charles would be created Prince of Wales on July 26, 1958, six years after he became heir apparent upon is mother’s succession to the British throne. However, his formal investiture would not take place until more than a decade later, in 1969.
The title of Prince of Wales has, since the 14th century been a dynastic title granted to the heir apparent of the English or British throne.
Prince of Wales is granted to the heir apparent as a personal honour or dignity, and is not heritable.
However, before the 12th century, the title was held by native Welsh princes only.
The term Prince of Wales replaced the use of the word King.
One of the last Welsh princes was Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, who died at the Battle of Orewin Bridge in 1282.
The first English Prince of Wales was Edward, son of King of England, Edward I in 1301.
Since 1301, the title Earl of Chester has been given in conjunction with that of Prince of Wales.
The Queen announced her intention to make Charles Prince of Wales when he was just nine years old.
But 11 years later, before Prince Charles officially became the Prince of Wales, it was decided he needed to get to know Wales, including the Welsh language.
As a result, Prince Charles was pulled out of Cambridge University for a term at Aberystwyth University in Wales.
There, he was tutored about about the Welsh culture and the language.
Thought by Edward Millward, he gave Welsh speeches at the university, and the 1969 investiture was followed by a week-long tour of Wales.
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Prince Charles even held his speech at his investiture ceremony in Welsh.
He declared: “I, Charles, Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship, and faith and truth I will bear unto thee, to live and die against all manner of folks.”
He has later said of the important day: “For me, by far the most moving and meaningful moment came when I put my hands between Mummy’s and swore to be her liege man of life and limb and to live and die against all manner of folks—such magnificent medieval, appropriate words, even if they were never adhered to in those old days.”
Since the title of Prince of Wales is not automatic, there have been times when it was held by no one.
There was no heir apparent during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, who had no sons.
The title of Princess of Wales has always been held by the Prince’s wife in her capacity as spouse of the heir apparent.
The current Princess of Wales is Charles’s wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
She automatically assumed the title upon her marriage to Prince Charles in 2005.
She has, however, chosen not to be publicly known by the title.
This is due to its association with her predecessor, Princess Diana, who was Charles’ first wife.
The couple were officially divorced in 1996 and in 1997, Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris.
When Prince Charles takes the throne, he could bestow the title upon his eldest son Prince William, who will then be heir apparent.
However, the process is not automatic, so it will be up to the monarch.