Princess of Wales

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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. Due to the mortality rate and the fact that very few Princes of Wales married prior to ascending the throne (if that), there have in fact been only ten Princesses of Wales. The wife of the present Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is legally the Princess of Wales, but does not promote it out of respect for the late, Diana, Princess of Wales


Princesses of Wales

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

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 Victoria. However, the law admits of no impediment to the potential production of future heirs other than death, and Victoria was legally only heir presumptive until she succeeded to the throne.

Status of the title

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.

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