Prince William will be the last Prince of Wales, historian predicts

Sharp End Presenter Rob Osborne on the historic scenes of the Queen's funeral - and the future of the royals

Prince William will be the last Prince of Wales, a historian has predicted. 

Swansea University professor Martin Johnes, says the UK’s monarchy has survived because it’s been “very good at reinventing itself” and will look to take non-contentious actions in the future.

The title of Prince of Wales is controversial for some who believe the last true native Prince of Wales died in the Middle Ages. In the 1960s the idea of a new Prince of Wales and an investiture ceremony at Caernarfon Castle sparked protests, even bomb plots.

In his first address to the nation, King Charles confirmed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would also now be the Prince and Princess of Wales.

After his swift action in giving his son the title, discussion has turned to what the Prince of Wales can offer the country, whether there will be an investiture, and the longevity of the role.

Dr Johnes told ITV’s Sharp End: “If I was a gambling man I would say William will probably be the last Prince of Wales because I imagine that one of the things the monarchy will do in the future is try and lose anything that's contentious and Prince of Wales is a contentious title.

“So I suspect that when we see William become King - he won't pass that title on. He will try and reinvent the monarchy to be something stripped-down, relevant and non-contentious.”

The history professor said the last two weeks have “undoubtedly shown there's a deep respect for the Queen as an individual - but that doesn't necessarily translate into respect for the monarchy as an institution”.

In June, an ITV Wales/YouGov poll showed the people of Wales were split on whether there should or shouldn't be a Prince of Wales after Charles becomes King.

It follows a similar question we asked in 2018 to mark 60 years since Prince Charles became Prince of Wales.

In that 57% said they wanted Prince William to inherent the title while 22% said it should be left vacant or abolished.

“The Prince of Wales is a symbolic role and that means it has no constitutional function”, Dr Johnes said, “and that means it's up to the holder of that title to define what it means.”

The new Prince of Wales has pledged to "support the aspirations of the Welsh people". Credit: PA

Wales’ Senedd is back to business after the period of national mourning for the late Queen concluded.

Labour Party MS for Ogmore, Huw Irranca-Davies, told Sharp End that First Minister Mark Drakeford was right to say “there’s no rush” to define the role given to Prince William.

He added: “The new Prince of Wales - and his family - have to consider they see this role as? In a modern democracy where the people of Wales have a clear view as well - what is the role of the Prince of Wales?”

Will William be the last Prince of Wales?

“I hope so” was the answer given by Liz Saville Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader.

She said: “If we have our own Parliament in Wales this is something we should be debating and I know that this is something Adam Price has written to the First Minister about.

“Although I can understand on one level why King Charles made that announcement so quickly about his son becoming Prince of Wales, it also felt very, very sudden. Especially when for a lot of people it was a very emotional experience about the Queen's death and then this happened.

“We are in the 21st Century and I think the time has come if the monarchy is to mean something more than just what we as citizens are told it means, if it is more than just something that's inherited and genetic then surely we should have a right to discuss it too.”

Laura Anne Jones, Conservative MS for South Wales East, thinks the new Prince of Wales will be an “extraordinary ambassador” and will be “above” politics.

She believes the title is here to stay.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Jane Dodds, believes people are more concerned about how they’re going to supported through the cost of living crisis.

She added: “There should be a debate - but not right now. Let's have that discussion and see what the people of Wales actually want.”

The Prince of Wales' Royal Standard. Credit: PA Archive

Isn’t Prince of Wales just a title?

It is - says Dr Johnes, “but it's an emotive title because of the whole history of it”.

“The title Prince of Wales was given to the heir to the throne as a symbol that Wales was now under the control of the English crown. There's a symbolism and history with this that isn't with say, The Duke of Cornwall.

“The majority of people in Wales do support the position of the Prince of Wales but for those people against it it's emotional and something that's deeply felt.”