By emphatically avenging a record drubbing at Wales' hands last season, England's victory means that Chris Robshaw's men will win the championship on Saturday if they beat Italy in Rome and the current leaders Ireland are unable to win away to France. Wales' bid for an unprecedented Six Nations title hat-trick ended on a sobering afternoon for a team that was also dismantled by Ireland four weeks ago.
Scrum-half Danny Care and centre Luther Burrell scored tries during the opening 35 minutes for England, while Owen Farrell kicked 19 points, landing all seven of his shots at goal. Only Leigh Halfpenny's accuracy - six penalties from six attempts - kept Wales interested but England's dominance told.
A landmark in England coach Stuart Lancaster's two-year reign, Wales' woeful kicking strategy and tendency to concede regular penalties played into English hands, yet the hosts also possessed the game's sharpest attacking forces in Care and full-back Mike Brown.
The home side had one enforced change from the side that ended Ireland's grand slam hopes a fortnight ago, with Gloucester No.8 Ben Morgan replacing Billy Vunipola, who has an ankle injury.
Wales welcomed back fit-again British and Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies for his first Test start since early November, with lock Jake Ball replacing Luke Charteris, who is nursing a neck problem suffered in training four days ago.
England, as if spurred on by their Millennium Stadium disappointment of 12 months ago, started quickly, and went ahead after five minutes.
A superb tackle by Wales captain Sam Warburton on his opposite number Robshaw initially thwarted England following prop David Wilson's break, but when the visitors then infringed, Care caught them napping. No-one laid a finger on Care as he scampered over after his quick tap penalty, with Farrell's conversion making it 7-0. It was England's first try against Wales since August 2011.
Halfpenny cut the deficit with an eighth-minute penalty, but Wales should have wiped it out completely when wing George North broke free, but ignored an unmarked Dan Lydiate outside him and kicked into touch instead. England regained a seven-point advantage after Wales conceded a scrum penalty, with Farrell punishing them from 40 metres out.
Although Halfpenny maintained his 100% accuracy by kicking a third penalty, this time from halfway, Wales then imploded after a lineout inside their own 22. Hooker Richard Hibbard's off-target throw gave England an opening, and centre Billy Twelvetrees' superbly placed kick was gathered by Burrell for his third try in four Six Nations games this season. Farrell landed the touchline conversion, before Wales were again indebted to Halfpenny, whose fourth penalty made it 20-12 and retained a glimmer of hope for the misfiring visitors that they could turn around a game England had dominated.
On the stroke of half-time Halfpenny landed another long-range strike after England wing Jonny May was penalised for a challenge on Jamie Roberts in the air.
Despite England's domination, Wales turned around five points adrift in a game with shades of their 1999 victory over England at Wembley when they were outplayed for 40 minutes, but were kept in contention by Neil Jenkins' boot. Wales needed a strong third quarter, yet two Farrell penalties opened up an 11-point advantage for England and visiting prop Gethin Jenkins was sin-binned for a second successive match.
Referee Romain Poite's patience with the scrum finally snapped, and prop Gethin Jenkins, equalling Stephen Jones' Wales cap record of 104, received a yellow card.
Halfpenny's sixth penalty clawed Wales back to 26-18 behind, before Farrell closed out the game with his fifth strike, and Burrell was narrowly denied a second try when his foot brushed the touchline following a fine England move.