Title of the eldest son of the British monarch.
Wales was composed of many and various kingdoms and principalities in its time, all of which you will find meticulously noded by aneurin. Perhaps four rulers effectively united all of Wales. The new Norman kings of England invaded Wales and began to subdue the south. The rulers of the north held out; the greatest of them, Llywelyn the Great, proclaimed himself Prince of All Wales, and his grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was called Prince of Wales in turn. He was killed in battle in 1282 and England annexed Wales in 1284. King Edward I named his own son (later Edward II) Prince of Wales in 1301, beginning the current tradition, in which the eldest son of the British monarchy is styled with this title.
I'm not sure of the ancient titles. The modern Welsh for king is brenin (stem brenhin-), and the word for prince is tywysog, from tywys 'to lead, guide'. In the early days there were many principalities: Gwynedd, Powys, Ceredigion, Ystrad Towy, Buellt, Gwent, Brycheiniog, Glywising, and Dyfed.
Of those, Gwynedd and Powys were in the north. Gwynedd, founded in the early 500s by Maelgwn Hir, had its capital at Deganwy, and from 855 to about 1070 the Kings of Gwynedd were also Kings of Powys. After that Powys resumed its own princes until 1160, when divided in two: South Powys or Powys Wenwynwyn fell to the English in 1208, and North Powys or Powys Fadog fell in 1269. King Rhodri Mawr (Rhodri the Great) was ruler of almost all Wales from 844 to 878.
In the south, Ceredigion and Ystrad Towy united to form the kingdom of Seisyllig in the 800s. Hywel Dda, grandson of Rhodri Mawr, and King of Dyfed from 904, became King of Seisyllig in 909, forming the kingdom of Deheubarth, which dominated the other southern and central states from this time on. Its capital was at Dinefor (Dynevor). Gruffydd ap Llewelyn, King of Deheubarth from 1039, defeated the King of Gwynedd in 1055 and so became the second ruler of all Wales.
He was killed in battle with the English, led by Harold (the future King Harold II) and Tostig Godwinson in 1063, and under William the Conqueror and his successors England gradually subdued South Wales. There was an uneasy mix of uprisings and truces from 1035. Llywelyn the Great ruled 1194-1240, and was the third ruler of all Wales. His grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, called Llywelyn the Last, became King of Gwynedd in 1246 and defeated the English in 1255, and assumed the title Prince of Wales in 1258, but was finally defeated and killed in 1282. Wales became part of England, and Llywelyn's daughter Gwenllian was confined to a nunnery at Sempringham until her death in 1337 to prevent the resurgence of the native dynasty.
I have heard some such story as doctorWho
quotes quoted above, that the Welsh demanded a prince who spoke no English, so the English king appointed his infant son, but I was puzzled who it might refer to. Edward II was about 17 when created the first English Prince of Wales, and when he became king his son (to be Edward III) was 15, and his son Edward the Black Prince was given the title in 1343 when he was 13. Later. Recently however I found an explanation: the future Edward II was born in Carnarvon Castle in 1284, and his father the king presented him to the Welsh as their future prince; but he was only proclaimed that at the age of 17.
Not every king has automatically been Prince of Wales before their accession. I believe the full list of those who were Prince of Wales by virtue of being heir apparent to the English (or later, British) throne is as follows. Dates given are for their tenure as Prince; most of them acceded to the throne as King at the end of this tenure:
- Edward II (1301-1307)
- Edward, the Black Prince, (1343-1376), dying before his father
- Richard II (1376-1377), son of the Black Prince, so one of only two who was not son of the present sovereign (the other being George III)
- Henry V (1399-1413), son of Henry IV
- Edward (1454-1471), son of Henry VI, killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471
- Edward V (1471-1483), son of Edward IV
- Edward of Middleham (1483-1484), d. 1484, the young son of Richard III
- Arthur (1489-1502), eldest son of Henry VII, whom he predeceased; first husband of Catherine of Aragon
- Henry VIII (1504-1509), Arthur's younger brother
- Henry (1610-1612), dying before his father James I and VI
- Charles I (1616-1625), son of James I and VI
- Charles II (1638?-1649), son of Charles I
- James Stuart (1688), the Old Pretender, son of James II and VII, deprived of title when his father was dethroned
- George II (1714-1727), son of George I
- Frederick Louis (1729-1751), dying before his father George II
- George III (1751-1760), son of Frederick, and grandson of the King
- George IV (1762-1820), son of George III
- Edward VII (1841-1901), son of Victoria; the longest tenure as Prince of Wales
- George V (1901-1910), son of Edward VII
- Edward VIII (1910-1936), son of George V
- HRH Prince Charles (1958- ), son of Elizabeth II
The title of Prince of Wales is reserved for the Sovereign
's heir apparent
, who is normally the eldest son, but in the case of George III he was the king's grandson. It is not automatically conferred: the title is newly created each time it is used. The same person is normally also the Duke of Cornwall
and the Earl of Chester
, but the remainder in these titles is different: the Sovereign's eldest son, and only
the son (so not George III) is Duke of Cornwall from the moment of his parent's accession, or from the moment of his own birth if he is born in his parent's reign. In Scotland the heir apparent is styled Duke of Rothesay
, since Wales is an English title.
There has never been a Princess of Wales in her own right, though it might be theoretically possible: if instead of a son, Frederick Louis had died early leaving only a daughter, she would have been heir apparent to King George II.
The Prince of Wales's emblem is three ostrich feathers. His motto is Ich dien, 'I serve', which was the motto of John of Luxembourg, the blind King of Bohemia, whom Edward the Black Prince slew on the battlefield in France. The Prince's arms are the British royal arms with a white label of three points over them, with superimposed on the whole of that the crowned Welsh shield of four dragons.
For more details see http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page391.asp