Princess of Wales

Princess of Wales
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, second wife of the Charles, Prince of Wales, is the "Princess of Wales," but is usually referred to as "Duchess of Cornwall" out of respect for the late Diana, Princess of Wales.[1]

Princess of Wales (Welsh: Tywysoges Cymru) is a British courtesy title held by the wife of The Prince of Wales since the first "English" Prince of Wales in 1283.

Although there have been considerably more than ten male heirs to the throne, there have been only ten Princesses of Wales. The majority of Princes of Wales who acceded to throne married after that. A number of other Princes of Wales died too young to marry.

The second wife of the present Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is the Princess of Wales, but does not use the title, out of respect for the late Diana, Princess of Wales.


Princesses of Wales

Diana, Princess of Wales, first wife of the Charles, Prince of Wales held the title until her death in 1997.
Royal Warrant Princess of Wales 1870

The ten Princesses of Wales (and the dates the individuals held that title) are as follows:

  1. Joan of Kent (held title 1361–1376) — became dowager princess when her husband, Edward, the Black Prince, died as Prince of Wales.
  2. Anne Neville (1470–1471) — through her marriage to Edward of Lancaster, though there is no record of her having used the title. She became queen consort when her second husband became King Richard III of England.
  3. Catherine of Aragon (1501–1502) — became dowager princess when her first husband, Arthur, died as Prince.[2] She remarried Arthur's younger brother, Henry, shortly after his succession in 1509 and became queen consort.
  4. Caroline of Ansbach (1714–1727) — became queen consort when George II acceded to the throne.
  5. Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (1736–1751) — Dowager Princess of Wales after her husband, Frederick, Prince of Wales, died.
  6. Caroline of Brunswick (8 April 1795–29 January 1820) — Married George, Prince of Wales on 8 April 1795; became queen consort on the accession of her husband as George IV of the United Kingdom. Caroline and George were estranged, and she was barred from his court and from her husband's coronation. An attempt to divorce her by act of Parliament in 1820 failed. Queen Caroline died 7 August 1821.
  7. Alexandra of Denmark (10 March 1863–22 January 1901) — The daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark, she married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and became Princess of Wales on 10 March 1863. On the accession of her husband as Edward VII of the United Kingdom, she became queen consort following a 37-year wait, on 22 January 1901. Queen Alexandra died 20 November 1925.
  8. Mary of Teck (9 November 1901–6 May 1910) — Married George, Duke of York on 6 July 1893 and became Duchess of York; became Duchess of Cornwall on the accession of her father-in-law as Edward VII of the United Kingdom on 22 January 1901; became Princess of Wales on 9 November 1901; became queen consort upon accession of husband George V on 6 May 1910. She held the titles of Duchess of York, Princess of Wales, Queen-Empress and Queen-Empress Dowager. Queen Mary died 24 March 1953.
  9. Lady Diana Frances Spencer (29 July 1981–31 August 1997) — Diana was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981. Following her divorce (28 August 1996) from Charles, Prince of Wales, she lost the style "Royal Highness" and assumed the style of Diana, Princess of Wales that is her personal name immediately followed by her title. Had Diana remarried, any use of the title Princess of Wales would have been lost permanently.[3] Diana died as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile crash on 31 August 1997.
  10. Camilla Rosemary Shand (2005–present) — Camilla is the second wife of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 9 April 2005. Though entitled to be called The Princess of Wales, Camilla is the first Princess of Wales whose husband previously had another official consort known as The Princess of Wales. Camilla uses the style of Duchess of Cornwall or Rothesay in accordance with public sentiment.[4][specify]

Several Princesses of Wales became queens consort. Those who did not generally took the title of "Dowager Princess of Wales" after the deaths of their husbands. (Following the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Catherine officially reverted to her earlier title of Dowager Princess of Wales, as the widow of Henry's older brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, because Henry did not wish to acknowledge that he had ever been legally married to her.)

Under the form of male-preference primogeniture in use in the United Kingdom, while a daughter, sister, or other female relative of a monarch may be heir presumptive, none have ever been heir apparent, since it has always (theoretically) been possible for the monarch to beget or bear a male heir who would displace any female heir, even an older sister. In theory, a woman could become heir apparent if she was the brotherless eldest child of a deceased heir apparent; this situation has, however, never arisen in the history of the United Kingdom.

There are cases where the monarch or his or her spouse is too elderly, or suffers from some other disability which practically prevents the birth of a legitimate heir; in such cases, a woman may be de facto heir apparent, as was the case during the reign of William IV, when his evident heir was his niece Princess Victoria. However, the law admits of no impediment to the potential production of future heirs other than death, and Victoria was legally only heiress presumptive until she succeeded to the throne.

Status of the title

Mary of Teck, the 8th Princess of Wales
As a Princess of Teck, Mary was the last actual princess by birth to be Princess of Wales.

The Princess of Wales is not a princess in her own right. While some past princesses, for example Catherine of Aragon, Alexandra of Denmark and Mary of Teck, were called Princess Catherine, Princess Alexandra and Princess Mary, that was because they were already princesses (of Spain, Denmark and Teck respectively) when they married. Though Diana, Princess of Wales was commonly called Princess Diana after her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales, it was officially incorrect, as Diana herself pointed out, because she was not a princess in her own right. Similarly Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is neither Princess Camilla nor Duchess Camilla.

There is, however, one notable exception to this rule. During her youth, Mary I was invested by her father, Henry VIII, with many of the rights and properties traditionally given to the Prince of Wales, including use of the official seal of Wales for correspondence. For most of her childhood, Mary was her father's only legitimate heir, and for this reason she was often referred to as "the Princess of Wales", although Henry never formally created her as such. For example, Spanish scholar Juan Luis Vives dedicated his Satellitium Animi to "Dominæ Mariæ Cambriæ Principi, Henrici Octavi Angliæ Regis Filiæ".[5]

When a title was sought for the future Elizabeth II, the possibility of investing her as Princess of Wales in her own right was raised. This suggestion was rejected, because Princess of Wales is a courtesy title held by the wife of the Prince of Wales. If it were used by Princess Elizabeth, it would have degraded her right as a Princess of the United Kingdom unless Letters Patent or Legislation were introduced to the contrary. Furthermore, if the then Princess Elizabeth had been given the title of Princess of Wales, there would have been the problem of what to call her future husband. Therefore, King George VI decided not to give his elder daughter the title.

Other titles of the Princesses of Wales

The Princess of Wales, by virtue of her marriage to The Prince of Wales, takes on the feminine equivalent of her husband's subsidiary titles. Thus, upon marriage, the wife of The Prince of Wales assumes the styles and titles – Her Royal Highness The Princess (husband’s Christian name) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester, Countess of Carrick, Baroness Renfrew, Lady of the Isles and Princess of Scotland.

If the Princess of Wales divorces, she loses the style "Her Royal Highness" but remains Princess of Wales. She loses that style if she marries again.

Of all these titles, The Princess of Wales has been used officially, due to it being of a higher rank than the additional peerage titles. However, as noted with the example of the current holder, a subsidiary title may just as easily and legally be used.

The Princess is known as Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, as the Prince of Wales is known as Duke of Rothesay there, the dukedom being the title historically associated with the heir to the Scottish throne. The Princess of Wales also holds the titles of Duchess of Cornwall and Countess of Chester, as spouse to the Prince of Wales who is also Duke of Cornwall and Earl of Chester.

Native princesses of Wales

Though only Eleanor de Montfort can be definitively shown to have used the title, several consorts of native Welsh princes of Wales were theoretically princesses of Wales while their husbands were on the throne. Llywelyn ab Iorwerth's consort, Joan, Lady of Wales, used that title in the 1230s; Isabella de Braose and Elizabeth Ferrers were likewise married to princes of Wales, but it is not known if they assumed a title in light of their husbands' status.


  1. ^ Camilla's right to hold the title by virtue of her marriage to the Prince of Wales was confirmed by the Lord Chancellor.[specify]
  2. ^ Following the controversial annulment of her marriage to Henry VIII Catherine was officially designated the Dowager Princess of Wales until her death.
  3. ^ Diana, Princess of Wales — Biography — Marriage and family
  4. ^ The right of Camilla to use the title Princess of Wales was debated prior to her royal marriage. The Lord Chancellor, having reviewed the case, ruled that as the wife of The Prince of Wales, Camilla would automatically become The Princess of Wales unless a change in statute law or possibly an Order in Council ruled otherwise. No Bill or Order in Council was introduced to deny Camilla the use of the title. She however does not use the title (seen by many as a mark of respect for the previous holder), and instead uses one of the alternative titles possessed by each Princess of Wales. Similarly, as wife of The King, she will automatically be The Queen Consort. However, she has publicly stated that she intends to use an alternative title, Princess Consort.
  5. ^ "To the Lady Mary, Prince of Wales, Daughter of Henry VIII, King of England" [1]


  • Princesses of Wales by Deborah Fisher. University of Wales Press, 2005.
  • 'Tystiolaeth Garth Celyn' Y Traethodydd 1998 ISSN 0969 8930

Further reading

  • Fryer, M.; Mary Beacock Fryer, Arthur Bousfield, Garry Toffoli (1983). Lives of the Princesses of Wales. Toronto: Dundern Press Limited. ISBN 9780919670693. 

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