Prince Charles’ 70th Birthday

14th November 2018, The Prince of Wales celebrates his 70th birthday. Royal Mail is marking the occasion with a stamp issue featuring six stamps, one of which showcases a previously unseen portrait of the Prince with his sons in full military uniform.

The Heir Apparent to the Throne of the United Kingdom and 15 other realms, Prince Charles is the future head of the Commonwealth and is now the longest-serving Heir Apparent in history. But why was he conferred with the title Prince of Wales?

Why Prince of Wales?

The firstborn child of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, Charles became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay at the age of three. Following his mother’s accession to the throne, he became heir apparent. In accordance with tradition, he was created Prince of Wales 26 July 1959, but his investiture didn’t take place until 1969.

The tradition of conferring the title Prince of Wales on the heir apparent of the monarch dates back to 1301 when Edward I of England invested his son, Edward of Caernarfon, with the title. Edward of Caernarfon became Edward II of England but did not confer his own son, Edward III, with the title. However, Edward III revived the tradition and it has since been followed by every monarch. The title is not conferred automatically and is not heritable.

The History of the Prince of Wales

Prince Charles Phillip Arthur George is the 23rd Prince of Wales. Although all of his predecessors were Heirs Apparent to the throne, not all of them were to become king. James Francis Edward Stuart and Edward of Westminster were deposed by their own fathers while Six Princes of Wales died before their father. These included Richard of Yorke, the third Duke of York, who died just three months after being given the title Prince of Wales.

Although Richard of York never became king, he was the father of both King Edward IV and King Richard III. He was also grandfather of King Edward V, one of the princes in the Tower. The marriage of his granddaughter Elizabeth of York to King Henry VII resulted in Richard being an ancestor of all subsequent British monarchs.

No Heir Apparent has waited longer than Prince Charles to become monarch. However, Prince Albert Edward waited 60 years to become Edward VII which he finally did following Queen Victoria’s death in 1901.

The Princess of Wales?

The Succession to the Crown Act (2013) amended the provisions of the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement to end the system of male primogeniture. Under this system, a younger son could displace an elder daughter in the line of succession. The 2013 Act applies only to those born after 28 October 2011. This means that at some point in the future, the 16 realms ruled by our monarch, will have a female Heir Apparent who could become the first Princess of Wales.

Queen Elizabeth II and all other female monarchs weren’t invested as Princesses of Wales, despite being heir to the throne. Women were Heirs Presumptive, not Heirs Apparent as until their deaths, it remained possible that the reigning monarch could produce a male offspring who would have become first in line to the throne under the old rules of succession.

As the Succession to the Crown Act was passed while the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant with her first child, there were many around the country hoping that the baby would be a girl. But when Prince George arrived, he ensured that should Prince Charles finally become King, he will be succeeded by his son and then his grandson. The nation will have to wait a long time for the first Princess of Wales.

The Stamp Issue

This exciting issue includes six stamps featuring photographs of the Prince of Wales which reflect his personal life, military service and public duties.

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