Investiture of the Prince of Wales

The site of Edward of Middleham's investiture as Prince of Wales is still marked in York today
The site of Edward of Middleham's investiture as Prince of Wales is still marked in York today
© Carolyn Donahue

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9th August 1483


Richard III's triumphant visit to York in August and September 1483 was filled with feasts, processions, pageantry and celebration. The highlight was the investiture of his son, Edward of Middleham, as Prince of Wales.

The ceremony took place at the Archbishop's Palace, Richard's residence during his stay at York, after six o'clock on the evening of 8 September 1483. The king performed the ritual, girding the boy with a sword and placing a cap of estate on his head, a gold ring on his finger and a golden staff in his hand. The confirmation of Edward's new title was witnessed by the Dean of the Minster, Robert Booth, along with numerous canons, prebendaries, parsons and vicars as well as the lords who were visiting the city as part of the royal entourage.

The ceremony was followed by a four hour banquet at the Archbishop's Palace during which the king and queen wore their crowns throughout. The king's son had been created Prince of Wales on 24 August 1483 by his father at Nottingham, less than a week before the royal family arrived in York. This was a traditional title held by a monarch's eldest son and so was a celebration of Richard III's position as king as well as the elevation of his heir.

The spectacular investiture at York also saw knighthoods conferred on the king's natural son, John of Pontefract, and his nephew, Edward earl of Warwick, son of the duke of Clarence. A ceremonial investiture as prince of Wales was not essential to bearing the title, but had been held for previous recipients. Richard's choice of York for the event was unusual and is striking, indicating the important role he envisioned for his son in the north of England.


Investiture ceremony, 8 September 1483

"'On the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the King and the Queen both crowned, went in procession to the aforesaid church, the Prince and all other Lords, both spiritual and temporal being in attendance. The Bishop of Durham was the officiating prelate, and the High Altar was ornamented with silver and gilt figures of the twelve Apostles and many other relics given by the Lord King. These remained there until the sixth hour. After Mass they all returned to the Palace, and there before dinner, he [i.e. Edward] was created Prince by the Lord King, in the presence of all. And so they sat, crowned, for four hours, there being present the Dean, Robert Both, the Canons, that is Treasurer Portyngton, Archdeacon Potman of York and the Sub-Dean, and four other prebendaries, ten parsons and twelve Vicars with other ministers of the Church.'"

York Minster Library, Vicars Choral Statute Book, p. 48, transcript in P.W. Hammond and A.F. Sutton, Richard III The Road to Bosworth Field (London, 1985) pp. 140-41.

Creation of Edward of Middleham as Prince of Wales, 1483

"'We therefore, following the footsteps of our ancestors and with the assent and advice of the said prelates, dukes and barons of our realm of England, we have determined to honour our dearest first born son Edward, whose outstanding qualities, with which he is singularly endowed for his age, give great and, by the favour of God, undoubted hope of future uprightness, as prince and earl, with grants prerogatives and insignia and we have made and created, and do create, him Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester… And we invest him as the custom is by the girding on of the sword, the handing over and setting of the garland on his head, and of the gold ring on his finger, and of the gold staff in his hand, to have and hold to him and his heirs, kings of England, for ever.'"

British Library Harley MS 433 f. 26v, translation from the Latin printed in R. Horrox and P.W. Hammond (eds.) British Library Harleian Manuscript 433 (Upminster, 1979-82) vol 1 p. 83

Investiture of the Prince, 8 September 1484

"'He presented his only son, Edward, whom, that same day, he had created prince of Wales with the insignia of the golden wand and the wreath; and he arranged splendid and highly expensive feasts and entertainments to attract to himself the affection of many people.'"

N. Pronay and J. Cox (eds.) The Crowland Chronicle Continuations: 1459-1486 (London, 1986) p.161