The rank of Prince of Wales is traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning monarch. Until recent legislation, this would always be the heir presumptive. Richard, having only just been crowned himself, was keen to enhance the legitimacy of his rule. A strong visual message, accompanied by festivities, would do just that.
Edward of Middleham created Prince of Wales.
Following the elaborate coronation of himself and his queen, Anne Neville, Richard went on a progress. He spent time in York, a city where he had many supporters from his days running the Ducal Council. Richard chose, therefore, to create his son Prince of Wales at an early stage. He did so on 24th August 1483, before leaving London.
Pleasing the people
This is intelligent timing, ensuring that London’s citizens hear the proclamations but allowing his northern subjects to enjoy the festivities that accompany the investiture ceremony. That ceremony occurred on 8th September and is covered here.
Clarity of succession
Another reason to create his son as Prince of Wales is to make the line of succession clear. Edward’s children’s possible existence, with the history of their titles, presented potential problems in the future.
By creating his own son as Prince of Wales, Richard asserts his rights and those of his heirs as per the statements of his legitimacy and those of Edward‘s children’s illegitimacy as made by Parliament. It quickly removes any doubts over the matter, and as investitures were accompanied by festivals and tournaments, it was an ideal opportunity to allow a period of eager anticipation.
Edward in the stained glass at St Mary and St Akelda in Middleham. Courtesy of Murray and Blue.