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House of Windsor
Badge of the House of Windsor, featuring the Round Tower of Windsor Castle
Parent house House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha [a] [b]
Country United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms
Founded17 July 1917; 106 years ago (1917-07-17)
Founder George V
Current head Charles III
Members List
^ a: The children and male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip genealogically belong to the House of Oldenburg through one of its branches, the House of Glücksburg.
^ b: The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is a cadet branch of the House of Wettin.

The House of Windsor is a British royal house, and currently the reigning house of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. Since it was founded in 1917, there have been five British monarchs of the House of Windsor: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, Elizabeth II, and Charles III. The children and male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip also genealogically belong to the House of Oldenburg [1] since Philip was by birth a member of the Glücksburg branch of that house. [2]

The monarch is head of state of fifteen sovereign states. These are the United Kingdom, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. As well as these separate monarchies, there are also three Crown Dependencies, fourteen British Overseas Territories and two small associated states of New Zealand: the Cook Islands and Niue.


In 1701, succession to the throne was given to Sophia of Hanover, who was born into the House of Wittelsbach, married into the House of Hanover, and was a granddaughter of James VI and I of the House of Stuart. Succession was passed to her son who became George I in 1714, marking the start of a long ruling period by the Hanoverian royal house. Eventually in 1901, a line of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy with the accession of King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 1917, the name of the British royal house was changed from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor, taking its name from the royal residence in Berkshire. [3]

"A Good Riddance"; cartoon from Punch, Vol. 152, 27 June 1917, commenting on the King's order to relinquish all German titles held by members of his family

King Edward VII and, in turn, his son, George V, were members of the German House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by virtue of their descent from Albert, Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria, the last British monarch from the House of Hanover. High anti-German sentiment amongst the people of the British Empire during the First World War [4] reached a peak in March 1917, when the Gotha G.IV, a heavy aircraft capable of crossing the English Channel, began bombing London directly and became a household name. In the same year, on 15 March, King George's first cousin Emperor Nicholas II of Russia was forced to abdicate, which raised the spectre of the eventual abolition of all the monarchies in Europe. The King and his family were finally persuaded to abandon all titles held under the German Crown and to change German titles and house names to anglicised versions. Hence, on 17 July 1917, a royal proclamation issued by George V declared:

Now, therefore, We, out of Our Royal Will and Authority, do hereby declare and announce that as from the date of this Our Royal Proclamation Our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that all the descendants in the male line of Our said Grandmother Queen Victoria who are subjects of these Realms, other than female descendants who may marry or may have married, shall bear the said Name of Windsor.... [5]

The name had a long association with monarchy in Britain, through the town of Windsor, Berkshire, and Windsor Castle; the link is alluded to in the Round Tower of Windsor Castle being the basis of the badge of the House of Windsor. It was suggested by Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham. [6] Upon hearing that his cousin had changed the name of the British royal house to Windsor and in reference to Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, German Emperor Wilhelm II remarked jokingly that he planned to see "The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha". [7]

George V also restricted the use of British princely titles to his nearest relations, [8] and in 1919, he stripped three of his German relations of their British titles and styles under the Titles Deprivation Act 1917. [9]

List of monarchs

Portrait Name Birth Reign Coronation Spouse Death Claim
George V 3 June 1865
Marlborough House
6 May 1910

20 January 1936 [a]

(25 years, 259 days)
22 June 1911 Mary of Teck 20 January 1936
Sandringham House
(aged 70 years, 231 days)
Son of Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark
Edward VIII 23 June 1894
White Lodge, Richmond Park
20 January 1936

11 December 1936

(326 days)
Cancelled Wallis Simpson 28 May 1972
4 Route du Champ d'Entraînement
(aged 77 years, 340 days)
Son of George V and Mary of Teck
George VI 14 December 1895
York Cottage
11 December 1936

6 February 1952

(15 years, 57 days)
12 May 1937 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon 6 February 1952
Sandringham House
(aged 56 years, 54 days)
Son of George V and Mary of Teck
Elizabeth II 21 April 1926
17 Bruton Street, Mayfair
6 February 1952

8 September 2022

(70 years, 214 days)
2 June 1953 Philip of Greece and Denmark 8 September 2022
Balmoral Castle
(aged 96 years, 140 days)
Daughter of George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Charles III 14 November 1948
Buckingham Palace
8 September 2022


(1 year, 82 days)
6 May 2023 Diana Spencer
Camilla Shand
(since 2005)
(age 75 years, 15 days)
Son of Elizabeth II
and Philip of Greece and Denmark
Charles III Elizabeth II George VI Edward VIII George V


The 1917 proclamation stated that the name of the Royal House and all British descendants of Victoria and Albert in the male line were to bear the name of Windsor, except for women who married into other families.

Descendants of Elizabeth II

In 1947, Princess Elizabeth (who would become Queen Elizabeth II), heir presumptive to King George VI, married Philip Mountbatten (born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark), a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, [2] a branch of the House of Oldenburg. A few months before his marriage, Philip abandoned his princely titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten, which was that of his maternal uncle and mentor, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and had itself been adopted by Lord Mountbatten's father (Philip's maternal grandfather), Prince Louis of Battenberg, in 1917. It is the literal translation of the German Battenberg, which refers to Battenberg, a small town in Hesse.

Soon after Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, Lord Mountbatten observed that because it was the standard practice for the wife in a marriage to adopt her husband's surname, the House of Mountbatten now reigned. When Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, heard of this comment, she informed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and he later advised the Queen to issue a royal proclamation declaring that the royal house was to remain known as the House of Windsor. This she did on 9 April 1952, officially declaring it 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, other than female descendants who marry and their descendants, shall bear the name of Windsor." [10] Philip privately complained, "I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children." [11]

On 8 February 1960, some years after both the death of Queen Mary and the resignation of Churchill, 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 (through the male line of succession, or patrilineality) who enjoy the style of Royal Highness and the title of prince or princess. [10] Still, Elizabeth also decreed that her agnatic descendants who do not have that style and title would bear the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. [10]

This came after some months of correspondence between the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and the constitutional expert Edward Iwi. Iwi had raised the prospect that the royal child due to be born in February 1960 would bear "the Badge of Bastardy" if it were given its mother's maiden name (Windsor) rather than its father's name (Mountbatten). Macmillan had attempted to rebuff Iwi, until the Queen advised Rab Butler in January 1960 that for some time she had her heart set on a change that would recognise the name, Mountbatten. She wished to make this change before the birth of her child. The issue did not affect Prince Charles or Princess Anne, as they had been born Mountbatten before the Queen's accession to the throne. [12] Prince Andrew was born 11 days later, on 19 February 1960.

Any future monarch can change the dynastic name through a similar royal proclamation, as the royal prerogative in the United Kingdom covers it. [13]

Family tree

  • Red-framed persons are living
  • Black-framed persons are deceased
  • Bold borders indicate children of British monarchs
Family tree of the House of Windsor
George V
Queen Mary
King Edward VIII [b] King George VI Queen Elizabeth Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester Prince George, Duke of Kent Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent Prince John
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Queen Elizabeth II Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon Prince William of Gloucester The Duchess of Gloucester
The Duke of Gloucester
The Duke of Kent
The Duchess of Kent
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy Prince Michael of Kent Princess Michael of Kent
The Queen
The King
(Charles III)
Diana, Princess of Wales
The Princess Royal
The Duke of York
Sarah, Duchess of York
The Duke of Edinburgh
The Duchess of Edinburgh
The Princess of Wales
The Prince of Wales
The Duke of Sussex
The Duchess of Sussex
Princess Beatrice, Mrs. Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi Princess Eugenie, Mrs. Jack Brooksbank Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor Earl of Wessex
Prince George of Wales Princess Charlotte of Wales Prince Louis of Wales Prince Archie of Sussex Princess Lilibet of Sussex

States reigned over

At the creation of the House of Windsor, its head reigned over the British Empire. Following the end of the First World War, however, shifts took place that saw the emergence of the Dominions of the British Commonwealth as independent states. The shift was recognised in the Balfour Declaration of 1926, [14] [15] the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927, [16] [17] and the Statute of Westminster 1931. [18] [19] The Windsors became recognised as the royal family of multiple independent countries, a number that shifted over the decades, as some Dominions became republics and Crown colonies became realms, republics, or monarchies under a different sovereign. [20] Since 1949, three monarchs of the House of Windsor, George VI, Elizabeth II and Charles III, have also been Head of the Commonwealth of Nations, comprising most parts of the former British Empire and some states that were never part of it. [21] [22] [23]

Country Dates
Antigua and Barbuda 1981–present
Australia 1917–present
Bahamas 1973–present
Barbados 1966–2021
Belize 1981–present
Canada 1917–present
Ceylon 1948–1972
Fiji 1970–1987
The Gambia 1965–1970
Ghana 1957–1960
Grenada 1974–present
Guyana 1966–1970
India 1947–1950
Irish Free State 1922–1949
Jamaica 1962–present
Malawi 1964–1966
Malta 1964–1974
Mauritius 1968–1992
New Zealand 1917–present
Nigeria 1960–1963
Dominion of Pakistan 1947–1956
Papua New Guinea 1975–present
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1983–present
Saint Lucia 1979–present
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1979–present
Sierra Leone 1961–1971
Solomon Islands 1978–present
South Africa 1917–1961
Tanganyika 1961–1962
Trinidad and Tobago 1962–1976
Tuvalu 1978–present
Uganda 1962–1963
United Kingdom 1917–present

See also


  1. ^ George V was a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until he changed the name of the royal house to Windsor on 17 July 1917.
  2. ^ After his abdication in 1936, King Edward VIII became the Duke of Windsor.


  1. ^ Burke's Royal Families of the World. p. 326. ISBN  0850110238.
  2. ^ a b Berger, Marilyn (9 April 2021). "Prince Philip, Husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Is Dead at 99". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  3. ^ "The Royal Family name | The Royal Family". The Royal Family.
  4. ^ McGuigan, Jim (2001). "British identity and 'people's princess'". The Sociological Review. 48 (1): 1–18. doi: 10.1111/1467-954X.00200. S2CID  144119572.
  5. ^ "By the King. A Proclamation". London Gazette. His Majesty's Stationery Office. 17 July 1917. p. 7119.
  6. ^ "How did the royal family choose the name 'Windsor'?". History Extra. Immediate Media Company. 28 April 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  7. ^ Carter, Miranda (2010), George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, Random House, p. xxiii, ISBN  978-0307593023
  8. ^ "Styles of the members of the British royal family: Documents". Heraldica. 30 November 1917.
  9. ^ "At the Court at Buckingham Palace, the 28th day of March, 1919". London Gazette. His Majesty's Stationery Office. 28 March 1919. p. 4000.
  10. ^ a b c "Royal Styles and Titles of Great Britain: Documents". Archived from the original on 23 April 2016.
  11. ^ Brandreth, Gyles (2004). Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage. pp. 253–254. London: Century. ISBN  0-7126-6103-4
  12. ^ Travis, Alan (18 February 1999). "Queen feared 'slur' on family", The Guardian Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 17 April 2014
  13. ^ The Royal Family name Archived 30 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Royal Household, retrieved 24 April 2016
  14. ^ "Clause II" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Balfour Report | United Kingdom [1926]". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  16. ^ "Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927".
  17. ^ "The Government of Great Britain and the Dominions and Colonies", Albert Edmond Hogan, Isabell Gladys Powell, Harold Plaskitt, D.M. Glew, University tutorial Press Limited, p. 238, 1939
  18. ^ "Statute of Westminster, 1931, 22 Geo. V, c. 4, s. 4" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Statute of Westminster | United Kingdom [1931]". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  20. ^ "The Monarchy Today > Queen and Commonwealth > Commonwealth Members". 29 February 2012. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012.
  21. ^ "Commonwealth (general)". The Royal Family. 11 March 2016.
  22. ^ "London Declaration". The Commonwealth. 16 May 2019. Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  23. ^ Hardman, Robert (2018), Queen of the World, Random House, ISBN  978-1473549647[ page needed]

Further reading

External links

House of Windsor
Preceded by
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Renamed House of Windsor
by Royal Proclamation of 17 July 1917)
Ruling House of the United Kingdom