The title of the Prince of Wales has enjoyed a long, colourful and captivating history. 

Since the 14th century, the Prince of Wales has traditionally been a special royal title reserved for the heir apparent to the British Throne. 

In recent generations, this tradition has been upheld, with the most famous and longest-held investiture being the former Prince Charles of England, now the reigning monarch, King Charles III. 

King Charles, as the first-born son of Queen Elizabeth II, and first in line to the throne, held the title of Prince of Wales for over 50 years. 

Who Is The Prince Of Wales Now?

Upon the death of the Queen of England, when King Charles III assumed his new role as sovereign, the title reverted back to the crown. 

This led many to speculate about the future of the title, and to ask; Who is the Prince of Wales now? 

The answer to this question was swiftly delivered in one of King Charles’ first decisions as the new monarch.

Within hours of becoming the new King of England, Charles III named his eldest son William as the new Prince of Wales, with his wife Catherine as the new Princess of Wales. 

Contemporary Timeline For The Prince of Wales Title

1958: At the age of nine, Queen Elizabeth grants her son Charles the title of the Prince of Wales, though he would not be formally invested with the title for over a decade.

1969: Prince Charles is formally invested as the Prince of Wales during a lavish, televised ceremony in Caernarfon Castle, Wales. 

2019: Prince Charles celebrates 50 years of the Prince of Wales Investiture in a formal event at Buckingham Palace. His is the longest tenure as the Prince of Wales since the creation of the title in 1301.

2022: Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the title reverts back to the Crown, as Charles becomes the new monarch of the United Kingdom. 

2022: Within days of the Queen’s death, the title of the Prince of Wales is reassigned to King Charles’ eldest son William, who now holds the title, with his wife Catherine holding the title of the Princess of Wales.

HRH Prince William, Prince of Wales
HRH Prince William, Prince of Wales – Royal Navy, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons

Who Will Be The Next Prince Of Wales? 

The convention for this unique title is for it to be granted to the new heir to the throne when the current holder accedes to the position of monarch. 

If this tradition were to be followed by the current Prince of Wales, Prince William, he would likely grant the title to his eldest son George, when it is time for William to become the new king, most likely on the death of his father King Charles III. 

There are a number of scenarios where this may not happen, however. 

For example, it assumes the survival of both William and George up to the death of the current king. Given that royal children and heirs to the throne generally have a longer life expectancy than was the norm during some of the more troubled periods of history, there’s an excellent chance that the two princes in line to the throne will live to inherit their respective new roles, but of course, there are no guarantees. 

Another occasion where Prince George may not be the next Prince of Wales would be if the title or the tradition around the title were changed, abolished or amended by the current monarch, Charles III, or the current Prince of Wales, William, upon his accession to the throne. 

The decisions about the appointment of the Prince of Wales are at the discretion of the monarch, and both King Charles and Prince William have shown a keen interest in reviewing traditions rather than following them slavishly. 

Prince William has already commented on the intention not to hold a formal investiture ceremony, which breaks with the tradition of his father’s investiture which was a grand and lavish event held in Wales in 1969 and watched by millions of people around the world. 

Perhaps Prince William’s decision was related to the controversy around the title, in particular the political disputes around the relevance of the title given the current standing of Wales within the United Kingdom and the modern world. 

It’s possible that Prince William will break with tradition and expectations by not granting the title of Prince of Wales to his son George, or even at all. Only time will tell the future of the title, whether it will be assigned as expected when Prince William becomes king, or whether it will take on a new role and tradition, or whether the title will revert to the Crown and not be re-issued at all. 

The Prince Of Wales & The People Of Wales

The relationship between the people of Wales and the various holders of the title of Prince of Wales has historically been a mixed and sometimes turbulent one. 

For example, some of the Princes of Wales throughout history had few if any ties to the country, and some had never actually been to Wales. 

It’s perhaps for this reason that Queen Elizabeth II chose to send her son to live and study in Wales before his formal investiture, in order to learn the language and the culture, as well as to get to know the people of Wales and for them to get to know the Prince who would hold the title that bears the name of their nation. 

This decision appears to have been a successful one, as the relations between the people of Wales and the former Prince of Wales (Charles) were much more positive than in previous years, as was reflected by the popularity and support of the royal family during the 1969 investiture. 

Prince William, the current Prince of Wales, has also made highly public efforts to nurture relations with the people of Wales. His first home as a newlywed was in Anglesey, off the north-west coast of Wales, where he served as a search and rescue pilot in the RAF. 

Both Prince William and his wife Catherine have spoken fondly about their time living in Wales and their warm regard for the country and the people. 

The new Prince of Wales, Prince William, is a new chapter in the story of this unusual royal title. It remains to be seen what he will bring to the role, as well as what his tenure will mean for the future of the title.