On September 9, 2022, the new king Charles III. his son and heir, Prince William, and William’s wife Katherine as Prince and Princess of Wales. It is a title that Charles held from the age of ten in 1958 until his accession to the throne after the death of his mother on 8 September.

The titles are controversial – many in Wales are calling for their abolition. By 15 September, a petition to have the title of Prince of Wales revoked had received over 25,000 signatures. Gwynedd City Council in North Wales also recently voted to declare its rejection of the title and is calling for consultations on whether it should be scrapped.

On the other hand, a YouGov poll conducted in early September found that 66% of respondents supported the Prince of Wales title being bestowed on William, with 74% believing it would do well.

The history of the relationship between Wales and England helps to explain the strong opinions about the title of Prince of Wales. As one of the Councilors said in an interview after the vote:

The title Prince of Wales has been a thorn in our country’s side for centuries. It reminds us that we belong to the regime rather than citizens of our country.

The Last Welsh Princes of Wales

Considered by some to be the last Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd fell during Edward I’s conquest of Wales in 1282. Edward I appointed his son, later Edward II, as the first English Prince of Wales in 1301.

However, there is another candidate for the last Welsh Prince of Wales. In 1400, Owain Glyndŵr, a Welsh nobleman, began a 15-year rebellion against English rule and reclaimed the title Prince of Wales. In 1404 Glyndŵr held court at Harlech Castle on the Welsh coast and proclaimed his vision of an independent state in Wales, with a parliament in Wales and a separate church in Wales.

It is Glyndŵr rather than Gruffudd whose memory lives on as ‘the last Welsh prince of Wales’. He appears in Shakespeare’s Henry IV part one and was remembered when the first Welsh Parliament for nearly 600 years opened on 26 May 1999. Postage stamps bearing his likeness were issued in 1974 and 2008, and streets, parks and public squares were named after him. across Wales.

Wales celebrates Owain Glyndŵr Day every year on 16 September, the anniversary of the date Glyndŵr was proclaimed Prince of Wales. In 2022, Owain Glyndŵr Day celebrations coincided with a visit from the new King, a visit described by Welsh actor Michael Sheen as “impervious to insult”.

Welsh pride

After Glyndŵr’s death in 1415 there was little resistance to English rule. Wales was annexed to England by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, which extended the English legal system to Wales and established an English political administration.

This legislation was not very unpopular in Wales at the time. The Welsh nobility supported the laws because it gave them equality under the law with English citizens and gave them the support of the English Parliament.

Although the Acts in Wales Acts replaced Welsh with English as the official administrative and legal language, the Welsh language persisted. At the beginning of the 18th century, Welsh was spoken by about 90% of the population of Wales. The Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion (founded 1751) and the Gwyneddigion Society (founded 1770) were founded in London to restore the Welsh language and in the 19th century most Welsh people continued to speak Welsh.

Since then, the number of fluent Welsh speakers has declined. In 2021, the annual population survey found that 29.5% of people aged three and over could speak Welsh, equivalent to around 892,200 people. However, the number seems to grow every year and the Welsh language has remained a point of pride and identity. Bilingual road signs have been allowed in Wales since 1965, and since 2016 new rules have required road signs to display the Welsh language first.

Wales’ sense of a distinctive culture, aided by the enduring memory of Owain Glyndŵr, helped explain some of the resistance to transferring the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales to English descendants of the monarchy.

The investiture – the titling ceremony – of the new Prince and Princess of Wales is expected to be on a much smaller scale than Charles’s investiture at Caernarfon Castle in July 1969. It remains to be seen whether it will face opposition from the royal side. . of the Welsh population, who would prefer these titles to be abolished altogether.

Siobhan Talbott, Early Modern History Reader, Keele University

This article has been republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.