House of Windsor
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The House of Windsor is the current Royal House of the United Kingdom
and each of the other Commonwealth realms. The royal house was created
from the British branch of the German House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by
George V by a royal proclamation in 1917. The House of Windsor is the
only dynasty to have ruled over lands on all continents of the world
simultaneously. The current head of the House of Windsor is Elizabeth
II, the reigning monarch over the Commonwealth realms.
Descendants of Victoria
Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha –
son of Duke Ernst I of the small German duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Her descendants were also members of the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and
Gotha, a minor branch of the thousand-year-old House of Wettin. It was
Victoria's desire that her son rule as a member of the House of Wettin,
instead of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, because she felt the
older name would conjure images of the shared Saxon heritage of Germany
and England. However, the name Wettin was never widely accepted.
Victoria's son, Edward VII, and, in turn, his son, George V, reigned as
members of this house.
High anti-German sentiment amongst the people of the British Empire
during World War I reached a peak in March 1917, when the Gotha G.IV, a
heavy aircraft capable of crossing the English Channel began bombing
London directly. The aircraft became a household name, and it
unfortunately was part of the name of the royal family. These bombings
were coupled with the abdication of King George's first cousin, Nicholas
II, the Tsar of Russia on 15 March 1917, which raised the specter of the
eventual abolition of all the monarchies in Europe. The King and his
family were finally convinced to abandon all titles held under the
German Crown, and to change Germanic titles and house names to Anglican
versions. Hence, on 17 July 1917, a Royal Proclamation issued by George
V provided that he and all his agnatic descendants would be members of
the House of Windsor, with the personal surname Windsor if they did not
have a title. The name had a long association with royalty, through the
town of Windsor, Berkshire and Windsor Castle, a link reflected in the
Round Tower of Windsor Castle being the basis of the badge of the House
of Windsor. At the same time, Prince Louis of Battenberg adopted the
surname Mountbatten, a partial translation into English. Prince Louis is
the maternal grandfather of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. From the
point of view of the king and his relatives, to think of them as German
was ludicrous; George V had a German grandfather who died before he was
born, while Prince Louis had become a naturalised British citizen at the
age of 14, after which he immediately entered the Royal Navy.
The name change helped the Royal Family keep the loyalty of the
British people, and the United Kingdom retained the monarchy, allowing
King George to avoid the fate of two of his first cousins, Wilhelm II
and Nicholas II of Russia, who were both deposed, the latter also being
murdered with his entire family. The ancient monarchies of
Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman empire were also removed from power in
the aftermath of World War I.
Descendants of Elizabeth II
When Princess Elizabeth (as she then was) married Prince Philip of
Greece and Denmark, the standard practice would be to adopt his family
household name. Because he was a prince, Prince Philip did not have a
surname but he was of the House of
Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a minor branch of the House of
Oldenburg. Not wishing to repeat the difficulties of three decades
previous, before his marriage Prince Philip renounced his titles and
adopted the surname Mountbatten, which his maternal grandfather had
created in 1917.
In her British Privy Council, on 1952-04-09, Queen Elizabeth II
officially declared her "Will and Pleasure that I and My children shall
be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that my
descendants who marry and their descendants, shall bear the name of
Windsor.". On 1960-02-08, the Queen confirmed that she and her
children would continue to be known as the House and Family of Windsor,
as would any agnatic descendants who enjoy the style of His/Her Royal
Highness, and the title of Prince or Princess. Still, Elizabeth also
decreed that her agnatic descendants who do not have that style and
title would bear the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.
Any future monarch can change the dynastic name through a similar royal
proclamation, but it is not anticipated that HRH The Prince of Wales
will change the name of the royal family.
Statistics for the House of Windsor
CREATION: When the House of Windsor was created in 1917 the only
members were King George V, and his 6 unmarried children ranging in age
from 23 to 12. The death of The Prince John at age 13, was the first
change. No subsequent child in the Windsor family has been named John.
KING GEORGE VI: On Dec. 11 1936, when King George VI became king
there were 8 Windsors in the line of succession (The King's 2 daughters,
3 siblings, and 3 nephews). A niece was born 2 weeks later. The oldest
brother, Edward VIII, was not in the line having abdicated the throne to
marry the woman of his choice.
ELIZABETH II: In 1952, when Elizabeth became Queen, there were 13
Windsors in the line (The Queen's 2 children, 1 sister, 1 uncle, 1 aunt,
7 first cousins, 1 first cousin once removed ). During the 15 years and
8 weeks of her father's reign 6 children had been born and Elizabeth's
uncle had died in a plane crash during the war.
The first generation of illegitimate children on this table are all
legitimatio per matrimonium subsequens or legitimated by subsequent
marriage. Under British law, they and their descendants are forever
excluded from the line of succession. In some cases they are also
excluded from other titles. Other monarchies are different. Monaco, for
instance recognizes these children as eligible for the throne. There are
no other illegitimate children openly acknowledged by members of the
The Catholics are from three families. Prince Michael married his
Catholic wife in 1978, but his children were raised in communion with
the Anglican church and are still eligible. The Duke of Kent's (#24)
wife converted to Catholicism decades after they were married. Her later
conversion does not exclude him. However his two sons have converted to
Catholicism. One son has 3 children, and the other one has a baby. Of
these four children, only Lady Amelia Windsor (#25) is still in the
line, but it is presumed that she will follow the lead of her siblings
and parents and be baptized when she is older.
At the creation of the House of Windsor, its head reigned over a
unitary British Empire. Following the end of the First World War,
however, geo-political shifts took place that saw the emergence of the
Dominions as sovereign states, the first step being the issuance of the
Balfour Declaration in 1926, followed by the Royal and Parliamentary
Titles Act the next year, and the Statute of Westminster in 1931. From
then on, the House of Windsor became the royal house of multiple
countries, a number that shifted over the decades as various Dominions
and Crown colonies gained independence, and various of those moved to
become monarchies under a different sovereign or a republic. Since 1949,
the head of the House of Windsor is also Head of the Commonwealth of
Nations, comprising most (but not all) parts of the former British
Empire and some states that were never part of it.
In the chart below, the countries are differentiated between light green
(realms of the House of Windsor as Dominions), medium green (present
realms of the House of Windsor), and dark green (former realms of the
House of Windsor).
House of Windsor and the Line of Succession
When the House of Windsor was created, the House of Windsor applied
to King George V and his six children. However, there was no law passed
to limit the Line of Succession. At this time the line was approaching a
thousand people who were legitimately descended from King George I. In
addition to the 6 Windsor children, the next 5 on the list were British.
Even considering the dangers of wartime, it was highly unlikely that a
series of disasters would occur so that the sovereign would pass outside
of the kingdom so it would not have been risky to limit the line to
these 11 people.
The British members were followed by the royal members in Norway,
Romania, and the Tsar of Russia. The Tsar was descended from George I
via three different bloodlines. The Tsar's wife was a first cousin of
George V. Wilhelm II, German Emperor, the first cousin of King George
shared a common grandmother, Queen Victoria, so he was on the list. The
line of succession was roughly half Germans. The line included all of
the Kings of Prussia except the first king. The line of succession
apparently did not disturb the public as much as the Germanic household
names, the Germanic titles, and the photos of their king riding with the
Emperor of Germany taken only three years earlier. As H.G. Wells put it,
the royalty was "an alien and uninspiring Court".
Descendants of Edward VII
The House of Windsor was created from the House of Saxe-Coburg and
Gotha (a minor branch of the House of Wettin). Officially, Edward VII
was the only British monarch to rule as a member of this house. George V
is considered to be a member of the House of Windsor. The 7 living
descendants of Lady Maud Duff are considered part of the extended
British Royal family. The Norwegian royal family is the closest family
to the Windsors.