Friday, November 28, 2008

National Geographic and the Investiture of the Prince of Wales


November 1969

While I was filing some articles, I started browsing through one of the clip files that I have on the Prince of Wales. This was the first file (pre-marriage), and it includes articles on Charles' investiture as Prince of Wales (July 1, 1969). This was televised in the United States, incidentally. Nearly the entire British royal family were present for the ceremony: the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh,the Queen Mother, the Princess Anne, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, the Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Richard of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent, Princess Alexandra and her husband, the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, and Lord Mountbatten. The Prince of Wales was also present, of course!

The Court Circular does not include the foreign guests, but the front row did include several dignitaries: William Tubman, president of Liberia, Lady Rachel Pepys and Lady Anne Fitzalan-Howard (daughters of the Duke of Norfolk, who directed the ceremony) Tricia Nixon (President Nixon's elder daughter) and HRH Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg.

The Illustrated London News' coverage of the event includes the photograph of one foreign guest: Tricia Nixon. The US delegation included Nixon, former Vice President Hubert Humphrey and his wife, Murial and US Ambassador to the Court of St. James and Mrs. Annenberg.


The Prince of Wales is Charles' official title in England and in Wales. In Scotland, his official title is the Duke of Rothesay. From birth until his mother succeeded as queen, Charles' official title was HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh. Not long before his grandson's birth, King George VI issued a Letters Patent, which would allow Elizabeth's children to be HRH and Prince or Princess. Thus, Charles' first official title was HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh, as his father was Duke of Edinburgh. If George VI had not issued the Letters Patent, Charles would have been styled as the Earl of Merioneth until his mother became queen. Princess Anne would have been styled as The Lady Anne Mountbatten.

As he knew that Elizabeth's children would be in the main line of succession, George VI decided that he wanted Elizabeth's children to be royal from birth.
When Elizabeth succeeded to the throne, Charles ceased to be styled as HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh, and was officially known as HRH The Duke of Cornwall (and HRH the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland.) On July 26, 1958, Queen Elizabeth II, during a visit to Cardiff, announced that she was creating her son as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. This announcement meant that Charles would have a new official title: HRH The Prince of Wales, and this title takes precedence (except in Scotland.)

The date of the National Geographic article is November 1969.

3 comments:

Taren said...

Did he have to be created Duke of Rothesay or was that automatic once his mother became queen, like Duke of Cornwall?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Automatic ...

JayV said...

Thanks, Marlene. I'm old enough to remember watching the investiture on American t.v. As though it were yesterday, especially Charles kneeling before his mother!