Is there a Prince of Scotland?

Written by Chris Thornton | 4th of October 2023
Prince of Scotland

Yes, the title "Prince of Scotland" is held by Prince William of the British Royal family. William inherited the title from his father, now King Charles III, upon his ascension to the throne in 2023 following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. It's traditional for the next heir apparent to be granted the title of "Prince of Scotland" and also "Great Steward of Scotland".

Although the titles of prince and great steward exist, they do not seem to be publicly used in the same way as other titles. For example, Prince William is now openly called "Prince of Wales" after being granted that title by his father, but Scotland is nowhere to be seen in his official title: William, Prince of Wales, KG, KT, PC, ADC.

Prince William
Prince William, the current Prince of Scotland with his wife Catherine, Princess of Wales.

The origins of the title "Prince of Scotland."

In 1404, in an act of dynastic foresight, Robert III of Scotland bestowed the title of "Principality of Scotland" upon his heir apparent, the young man destined to become James I. The title was further solidified during the rule of James III when swathes of land across Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, and Kirkcudbrightshire were dedicated as part of the royal patrimony. These lands were intended to serve as a substantial income source for the sovereign's eldest son.

However, a significant change arrived with the passage of the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 through the Scottish Parliament, which dismantled feudal rights and duties. The consequences of this act essentially stripped the title of "Prince of Scotland" of its former weight and significance, reducing it to a largely symbolic role.

Great Steward of Scotland

Typically, the designation 'Prince of Scotland' is associated with the role of the 'Great Steward of Scotland,' a title traditionally bestowed upon the firstborn son of the United Kingdom's monarch. The Great Steward of Scotland was initially assigned to manage the internal affairs of the Scottish royal household, acting as the trusted confidant and manager to the King of Scots. Walter FitzAlan, an Englishman serving the King, was the first to receive this honour in the late 12th century, a title that was subsequently passed down through the male line of his family.

However, a unique succession event in Scottish history shifted how this title was assigned. When King David II passed away, leaving no direct male heirs, his successor was his nephew, the son of his older half-sister Marjorie Bruce. Marjorie had been married to the sixth Great Steward of Scotland, leading to the merging of the titles with the crown, allowing for the possibility of these titles being reissued in the future.

From this point forward, the titles of 'Prince of Scotland' and 'Great Steward of Scotland' were recreated for the presumptive heir to the Scottish throne. This pairing of titles, echoing the style of the modern 'Prince of Wales,' has since become the standard. Therefore, today, the heir apparent is commonly called the 'Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.'

HRH Prince Charles - the previous "Prince of Scotland"

Before ascending to the throne, Prince Charles was the Prince of Scotland but openly as the Prince of Wales. Now as King Charles III, his son Prince William inherited the title automatically.

His royal highness, King Charles III. Brother to Prince Edward.
King Charles III.

Prince William - the current Prince of Scotland

William is next in line for the throne and therefore is currently the "Prince of Scotland" and "Great Steward of Scotland", but does he hold other royal titles that aren't commonly known? Let's investigate!

Earl of Carrick

The title of the Earl of Carrick holds an important place in Scottish history. It originated from Robert the Bruce's maternal lineage and was incorporated into the Scottish monarchy in 1306. Since then, it has traditionally been held by the heir apparent to the Scottish throne, becoming an automatic title in 1469, symbolizing the continuity of the monarchy.

Baron of Renfrew

Intriguingly, the title of Baron of Renfrew differs from its English counterparts. Unlike English baronies, which exist within the peerage system, the Baron of Renfrew is a feudal title in Scotland, reflecting a more modest rank in the Scottish hierarchy. The title was created in 1398, concurrently with the Duke of Rothesay, marking its importance to the Scottish heir apparent.

Lord of the Isles

The Lord of the Isles title is steeped in the ancient traditions of Scottish nobility, referencing the rulers of the islands and coastlines on Scotland's far west. Historically, the Lord of the Isles was frequently the largest landowner in Britain, second only to the English and Scottish monarchs. However, under the rule of James IV, the title was forfeited due to the holder's conspiracy against the King, leading to the integration of the lands with the Principality of Scotland. Since then, this title, considered a 'dignity,' has been retained by the heirs apparent to the Scottish and, later, the British thrones.

Duke of Rothesay

The Duke of Rothesay is perhaps the most prominent of all Scottish titles associated with Prince William. Traditionally held by the heir apparent to the Scottish throne, it was first established in 1398. This title is especially noteworthy as it is the one King Charles III typically used when in Scotland, a practice initiated by Queen Victoria in her bid to emphasize Scotland's significance. Hence, the Duke of Rothesay has become synonymous with the Scottish royal lineage's continuity.

FAQs on the Prince of Scotland

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Prince of Scotland.

Who is the Prince of Scotland?

Prince William is currently the "Prince of Scotland" as heir apparent.

What do Scots think about the Prince of Scotland title?

To be honest, many do not know it exists. The title isn't publicly used in the same way as "Prince of Wales". If Scots knew about it, there would likely be a variety of opinions for and against the monarchy.

Why is the title not openly used by the future King?

I'm not sure, but I would guess there is a larger Republican population in Scotland than in Wales (a group that wishes to replace the United Kingdom's monarchy with a republic). Perhaps the Scottish titles are kept quiet to stop the fires of republicism.

If Scotland gained independence, would the "Prince of Scotland" title remain?

It's hard to know what would happen, but the SNP, the main political party for independence, do want to retain the royal family post-independence. Scotland is very divided on the royal family. It's hoped that post-independence, there will be a series of small referendums asking the big questions about the country's future. Maybe the question of the monarchy in Scotland will finally be put to rest.

What do Scots generally think about the Monarchy?

It's a tricky question; it's such a divisive issue. The older generations are more royal mad than, the younger, but in these modern times, more people are asking whether Scotland really needs a royal family. Significant sums of public money are given to the royal family.

Many royal scandals have also sullied the monarchy in many people's eyes.

Who will be the next Prince of Scotland?

Prince George of Wales, the son of Prince William, is next in line for the British throne and, therefore, will inherit all of the titles mentioned above, including the "Prince of Scotland". Eventually, he may become King George.

Was Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) a prince of Scotland?

Technically no; at the time (the 1700s), he was not recognised by the British establishment to have a valid claim to the throne, although he was considered a "Prince of Scotland" by his followers, the Jacobites. He would have never been officially granted the title mentioned in this article.

Was Prince Philip a prince of Scotland?

No, he did not hold that title. He did hold the title of Duke of Edinburgh (granted by King George VI) and was made a Prince of the United Kingdom in 1957.

What is the current royal family line of succession?

  1. Prince William, The Prince of Wales

  2. Prince George of Wales (The next to receive the title "Prince of Scotland")

  3. Princess Charlotte of Wales

  4. Prince Louis of Wales

  5. Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex

  6. Prince Archie of Sussex

  7. Princess Lilibet of Sussex

  8. Prince Andrew, The Duke of York

  9. Miss Sienna Mapelli Mozzi

  10. Princess Eugenie, Mrs Jack Brooksbank

Key information on the Prince of Scotland

  • Prince of Scotland is a title granted to the heir to the throne of Great Britain.

  • Prince William is the current "Prince of Scotland", inheriting the title from King Charles III.

  • The title isn't commonly used, so many do not know it exists.

  • The heir apparent also receives the titles: Great Steward of Scotland, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Duke of Rothesay.

  • If Scotland gains independence from the United Kingdom, the "Prince of Scotland" title may no longer exist if a republic is created.

  • When Prince William ascends to the throne, his son Prince George will be the new "Prince of Scotland".


The "Prince of Scotland" and "Great Steward of Scotland" are titles steeped in the rich history of the monarchy, tracing their origins back to the medieval period. Despite not being widely recognized or used today, they remain a significant part of the royal heritage.

The current holder of these titles, Prince William, is set to inherit the throne after his father, King Charles III. Despite the titles' significance in history, their relevance and importance in the modern day are somewhat reduced, primarily due to the evolving political climate and changing attitudes towards the monarchy.

Whether these titles will persist in the future, particularly in the event of Scottish independence, remains uncertain. What is clear, however, is the enduring legacy of these titles and the glimpse they provide into Scotland's fascinating royal past.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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