Will Prince William become the next Prince of Wales?

Prince William does not automatically assume the title of Prince of Wales. Credit: PA

A constitutional monarchy moves quickly.

As Queen Elizabeth II passed, the reign of King Charles III began immediately. There is no vote in parliament, no oath of office; it just happens.

The symbols of the second Elizabethan age will soon fade. New coins will be minted in Llantrisant and a new sovereign will appear on stamps. The words of the British national anthem have already changed.

King Charles III, Queen Elizabeth II and heir to the throne Prince William pictured in 2012 Credit: PA

But as Charles assumed the title held by his mother for 70 years, William did not assume the title held by his father for 64.

He is not the Prince of Wales. There is, currently, no Prince of Wales.

Historically, the title is the gift of the monarch to the heir to the throne.

The Queen gave her eldest son the title in 1958. The announcement was made at the closing of the Empire Games in Cardiff. He was a nine year old boy listening to it on the radio in school.

As Prince Charles, he had acknowledged in the past that William would be the next Prince of Wales. What we don't know is when.

First, there are significant moments which have to happen.

The Queen's funeral and the period of national mourning. Then, perhaps next summer, the new King will be crowned at Westminster Abbey.

My guess is only after that will thoughts turn to Prince William's role.

The 1969 investiture in Caernarfon. Credit: PA

Some have objected to the concept of a new Prince of Wales, believing the last true native Prince of Wales died in the Middle Ages and the role should be left vacant.

There were some protests, even a bomb plot, in the period leading to the investiture of 1969 at Caernarfon Castle.

The former Assembly Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis Thomas, a friend of the King, had questioned the need for a new Prince of Wales.

But how do the Welsh public feel about it?

In recent years ITV Wales conducted research with the polling company YouGov.

Only this year, we asked: "Do you think there should or should not be another Prince of Wales after Prince Charles becomes King?"

While most people said yes, a substantial number thought not.

In 2018 a similar question was asked to mark the 60th anniversary of Charles becoming Prince of Wales. At that time, most people wanted Prince William to inherit the title.

We asked: "If Prince Charles does become King, what do you think should happen to the title Prince of Wales?"

Studies suggest Wales still supports a monarchy, further evidenced by the street parties and celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee across the country.

Sources close to the new King tell me he has a deep understanding of Wales. He knows his Welsh history, learning the language, and has a home in Wales. He comes to the throne knowing more about our nation than anyone since the Welsh Tudor king Henry VII. 

But he and the palace will be watching. Keen to reflect the public mood and not to go against it.