Kate Middleton wasn't the first. Diana wasn't the first. Even Queen Elizabeth's grandmother wasn't the first! No, the Princess of Wales title goes back a long way. Let's look at all the extraordinary women who held the now-iconic title of Princess of Wales during their lifetimes. Warning: the history surrounding these princesses wasn't always pretty!
Explaining the title
The title of 'Princess of Wales', or 'Tywysoges Cymru' in Welsh, has always been given to the wife of the heir apparent to the British throne. Traditionally, the heir apparent had to be a man, so he was given the title of 'Prince of Wales' and his wife 'Princess of Wales.' But that all changed in 2013 when the succession laws were finally updated. So one day, we might even get a Princess of Wales who doesn't come with a prince!
Back to the 1300s
However, just because these women were all married to a prince — in fact, some of them were married to princes without getting any choice in the matter — that doesn’t make them any less formidable. We’ll start our list of princesses back in the fourteenth century, after Wales was conquered by King Edward I and became part of Britain. The further back in history we go, the more mysterious these princesses seem to be.
1. Joan of Kent
Joan of Kent was the wife of Edward, Prince of Wales, a descendant of the Edward who conquered Wales. History knows him as “the Black Prince.” He went to great lengths to make the beautiful Joan his legal wife, which was no easy task seeing as she’d been married in secret to another man during her youth. But as soon as they tied the knot, Joan proved herself worthy twice over, giving birth to both an heir and a "spare" — a.k.a., another son.
Mother of the King
Unfortunately, fate decided that the “spare,” a boy named Richard, would wear the crown after all. Joan and Edward’s first son died young, but that wasn’t the last tragedy poor Joan endured. Her husband died not long afterwards, then her father-in-law King Edward III passed away as well. And so, Prince Richard became king at a mere 10 years old, and it was Joan’s job to get him safely to adulthood. She protected her son fiercely for the rest of life, and she died at the age of 58.