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Princess of Wales

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Title: Princess of Wales  
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Subject: Diana, Princess of Wales, Catherine of Aragon, Prince of Wales, Anne Neville, Mary of Teck
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Princess of Wales

Princess of Wales
The Insignia of the Princess of Wales
Inaugural holder Isabella de Braose

Princess of Wales (Welsh: Tywysoges Cymru) is a British courtesy title held by the wife of the Prince of Wales since the first post-conquest Prince of Wales in 1301. The title has had relatively few holders, as the heirs to the throne often did not marry until after their accession, if at all.

Camilla, the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, is the present Princess of Wales. She does not use the title due to its strong association with Charles's first wife, Diana, who died in 1997.


  • Princesses of Wales 1
  • Status of the title 2
  • Title holders by Ruling House 3
  • Other titles of the Princesses of Wales 4
  • Native princesses of Wales 5
  • Notes 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • Further reading 8

Princesses of Wales

The second most recent Princess of Wales (and the most recent to actually use her title; see note on Camilla, on the left), Diana, Princess of Wales, first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales.
The third most recent Princess of Wales, later Queen Mary, the last actual princess by birth to be Princess of Wales.

The twelve Princesses of Wales (and the dates the individuals held that title) are:

  1. Isabella de Braose
  2. Eleanor de Montfort
  3. Joan of Kent (held title 1361–1376) — became dowager princess when her husband, Edward, the Black Prince, died as Prince of Wales.
  4. 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.
  5. Catherine of Aragon (1501–1502) — became Dowager Princess of Wales when her first husband, Arthur, died as Prince. She remarried Arthur's younger brother, Henry, shortly after his succession in 1509 and became Queen Consort. Following the controversial annulment of their marriage, Catherine was officially designated the Dowager Princess of Wales until her death.
  6. George II acceded to the throne.
  7. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz after his accession; thus she became Queen Consort and was never Princess of Wales.
  8. 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 on 22 January 1901, she became Queen Consort. Upon his death on 6 May 1910, she became Queen Mother (generally known as Queen Alexandra) and died herself on 20 November 1925.
  9. Duchess of York, Duchess of Cornwall, Princess of Wales, Queen-Empress and Queen-Empress Dowager. Queen Mary died 24 March 1953.
  10. Diana Spencer (29 July 1981–28 August 1996) — Diana was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981. Following her divorce, she assumed the specially-designated style of Diana, Princess of Wales. Buckingham Palace issued a press release on the day that the decree absolute of divorce was issued, announcing Diana's change of title, but adding that Diana continued to be a British princess. The Princess as the mother of Prince William, was to be regarded by The Queen and The Prince of Wales as being a member of the Royal Family and would retain any orders, insignia and other titles, consistent with her being known as Diana, Princess of Wales. After her divorce and until her death Diana, Princess of Wales continued to be a Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland without the style Royal Highness. This situation made the Princess the first non-royal British princess in history.[1]
  11. Camilla Parker Bowles (9 April 2005–present) — Camilla is the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 9 April 2005. Though entitled to be styled Princess of Wales, Camilla is the first Princess of Wales whose husband previously had another official consort known as Princess of Wales. Camilla uses the style of Duchess of Cornwall or Rothesay because of the strong association of the title Princess of Wales, which remains with her husband's first wife.[2]

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.)

Status of the title

The fourth most recent Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra, the longest-serving Princess of Wales to date.

The Princess of Wales is not a princess in her own right. Some past Princesses of Wales, for example Catherine of Aragon, Alexandra of Denmark and Mary of Teck, were called "Princess Catherine", "Princess Alexandra", and "Princess Mary". However, that was because they were already princesses of their ancestral countries when they married: Catherine, of Aragon (the component kingdom of Spain ruled by her father Ferdinand), and also Castile (of which her mother Isabella was queen); Alexandra, of Denmark; and Mary, of Württemberg (where her father was Prince of Teck), respectively. 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".[3]

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.

Title holders by Ruling House

This is a list of the title holders from the House of Tudor since Henry VII of England:

  1. HRH Infanta Catherine of Aragon, wife of Arthur, Prince of Wales, and later wife of Henry VIII of England. Married Henry VIII when she widowed from her first marriage. After her divorce, she became The Dowager Princess of Wales.

This is a list of the title holders from the King George I:

  1. George, Prince of Wales, later King George II.
  2. HSH Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, later the Dowager Princess of Wales and wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales.
  3. George, Prince of Wales and Prince Regent, later George IV.

Notes: Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was never Princess of Wales because she was the wife of the heir presumptive.

Title holders of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha:

  1. HRH Princess Alexandra of Denmark was the wife of Edward, Prince of Wales who was son of Queen Victoria.
  2. Edward VII of the United Kingdom.

Notes: Mary of Teck was the only Princess of Wales to be Duchess of York before becoming said title.

Title holders of the House of Windsor:

  1. Lady Diana Frances Spencer was the first wife of The present Prince of Wales; after divorce she became the first non-royal Princess in British History.
  2. Camilla Rosemary Shand as the second wife of HRH The Prince of Wales, did not assume the style of Princess of Wales due to the strong association with the previous holder.

Notes: the heir presumptive, HRH The Duke of York and his title (Duke of York) merged with the Crown.

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 of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles and Princess of Scotland.

Of all these titles, "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

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.

The only consort of a Welsh prince definitively shown to have used the title was Eleanor de Montfort, the English bride of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Prince of Wales. Their only child was Gwenllian of Wales, who was taken prisoner as an infant following her father's death. Gwenllian was the last native Welsh princess to actually be identified as Princess of Wales; Edward I had her raised in Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire, far from where any Welsh rebels could find her, and once appealed to the Pope to increase funds to the priory by writing that "...herein is kept the Princess of Wales, whom we have to maintain."[4]


  1. ^ Divorce: Status And Role Of The Princess Of Wales
  2. ^ 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 Queen Consort. However, she has publicly stated that she intends to use an alternative title, Princess Consort.
  3. ^ "To the Lady Mary, Prince of Wales, Daughter of Henry VIII, King of England" [1]
  4. ^ Gwenllian, Princess of Wales at


  • 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.  
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