Historically, heirs to the throne have been granted the title of Prince of Wales. However, it isn’t automatic and has to be given by the monarch whenever they see fit.
Queen Elizabeth II has just turned 96 years old and in a couple of months will be officially celebrating her Platinum Jubilee or 70 years on the throne. However, in the past months, it’s been clear that time has had a toll on the iconic monarch raising questions about the future of the monarchy.
As it has been established for decades now, her eldest son, Prince Charles, will assume the Crown when the time comes, thus moving the succession line and positioning Prince William as the heir apparent. At the moment, Charles has been the longest-waiting heir apparent in the history, and the one who has held the title of Prince of Wales the longest. But what happens to the title when he becomes king?
William, Prince of Wales
Historically, most members of the royal family are born with royal titles, although those in the first spots in the line of succession have received a particular title to symbolize their passage into adulthood mainly through marriage. As so, William and Kate were named Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Harry and Meghan Duke and Duchess of Sussex, at the time Andrew and Fergie became Duke and Duchess of York. However, Prince Charles didn’t receive his titles in marriage but actually before that.
As it is known, and as we’ll see below, the title of Prince of Wales is historically held by the heir to the throne. So, although it’s more than likely that Prince William will hold the title, it’s not an automatic transition, the title must be conferred by the monarch upon their heir, just as the Queen did with Charles. However, the Prince of Wales title doesn’t define the position in the line of succession. That is, even if Prince Charles doesn’t name William Prince of Wales, he will still be the heir apparent.
Now, will Kate become Princess of Wales? Most likely. Although the title isn’t necessary given to the spouse of the Prince of Wales, it’s been traditionally given to them as recognition and honor as well. Princess Diana was named Princess of Wales when she married Charles but Camilla didn’t mainly because it remained a title most people associated with Diana. However, not having an issue there, Kate will likely become Princess of Wales just like her husband.
Something automatic though is the title of Duke of Cornwall, which, when the time comes, will be the official name of William and Kate in conjunction with their original titles. So, they will become ‘His and Her Royal Highness the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge.” Unlike the title of Prince of Wales, which is merely honorary, the Dukedom of Cornwall does represent a huge estate holding and revenue. Prince Charles’ and Camilla’s biggest income comes from the dukedom.
The history behind the Prince of Wales title
So what exactly is the title of Prince of Wales? The principality is mainly a title given to the first in the line of succession to the British throne. As mentioned, it is an honorary title that historically has granted the heir apparent honor and dignity. However, this isn’t a heritable title, although in the past centuries it’s been granted to the eldest children of the monarch.
Also, as mentioned, it isn’t a title given automatically once a new monarch takes the throne. For example, Charles was named Prince of Wales in 1958, six years after Queen Elizabeth assumed the Crown. Whether she believed Charles wasn’t old enough to bear the honor or she was just waiting to settle her government, it’s not known but Charles became Pince of Wales until he was 10 years old. Still, the investiture ceremony took place until 1969.
The title was originally held only by native Welsh princes, and more than being a title held by the heir to the throne, it was a term that referred to the monarch. This, until the 13th century when King Edward I of England decided to name his son Prince Edward the first English Prince of Wales. From 1301 on, the title became an honor given to the heir to the throne.
The Cambridge Way
Although the Crown hasn’t really announced if William will be named Prince of Wales as soon as his father becomes King, it’s clear that the Cambridges are already planning ahead. According to close sources to the couple, they are already looking for ways to reinvent the title and make it more approachable. One of the main changes they’re proposing is limiting the number of charities they will support to really focus on them.
The plan, called already ‘The Cambridge way’ aims to have an approach closer to the one Prince Philip had rather than Charles’. That is, William and Kate want to focus on working on a plan that offers home and solutions for the people and thus setting the pace for his future rule. Some of the main issues they want to focus on include mental health, the environment, and healthy childhoods for their people.
Another measure they plan on taking is making more public and television appearances to connect with the people and make a more approachable image of themselves; something they’re already doing in a way. Kate, on her side, will be having more solo tours and appearances. These last actions come as a result of a very failed Caribbean tour which seems to have made the Cambridges change their approach to the people and their public image.