House of Windsor

House of Windsor

The House of Windsor is the current Royal House of the United Kingdom and each of the other Commonwealth realms. The older part is a branch of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha line of the House of Wettin, while the newer part is a branch of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg line of the House of Oldenburg.

Descendants of Victoria

By virtue of Queen Victoria's marriage 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 members of the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, with the house name of Wettin. Victoria's son, Edward VII, and, in turn, his son, George V, reigned as members of this house.

However, high anti-German sentiment amongst the people of the empire during World War I prompted the King and his family to abandon all titles held under the German Crown, and to change German sounding titles and house names to English sounding versions. Hence, on 17 July 1917, a Royal Proclamation issued by George V provided that all agnatic descendants of Victoria would be members of the House of Windsor, with the personal surname Windsor. The name had a long association with royalty, through the town of Windsor and Windsor Castle, a link reflected in the Round Tower of Windsor Castle being the basis of the badge of the House of Windsor.

Upon hearing that his cousin had changed the name of the British royal house to Windsor, German Emperor William II remarked jokingly that he planned to see Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Descendants of Elizabeth II

In her British Privy Council, on 9 April 1952, 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." This, however, contrasted with the usual practice that would see her children be of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, through their father, born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, in a line of the House of Oldenburg. On 8 February 1960, 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, Mountbatten being the surname adopted by Prince Philip before his marriage, which is itself an anglicisation of his mother's family name, Battenberg. Any future monarch can change the dynastic name through a similar royal proclamation.


At the creation of the House of Windsor, its head reigned over a unitary British Empire. Following the end of the Second 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).

1920 1925 1930 1935 1940 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005
Antigua and Barbuda
The Bahamas
The Gambia
Indian Empire
Union of India
Irish Free State
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom
1920 1925 1930 1935 1940 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005

Patrilineal descent

Patrilineal descent, descent from father to son, is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the generations - which means that the patrilineally accurate royal house of monarchs of the House of Windsor is the House of Wettin.

Descent before Conrad the Great is taken from and may be inaccurate.

House of Wettin

  1. Burkhard I, Duke of Thuringia, d. 870
  2. Burchard, Duke of Thuringia, 836 - 908
  3. (possibly) Burkhard III of Grabfeldgau, 866 - 913
  4. Dedi I, Count of Hessegau, 896 - 957
  5. (probably) Dietrich I of Wettin, d. 976
  6. (possibly) Dedi II, Count of Hessegau, 946 - 1009
  7. Dietrich II of Wettin, 991 - 1034
  8. Thimo I of Wettin, d. 1099
  9. Thimo II the Brave, Count of Wettin, d. 1118
  10. Conrad, Margrave of Meissen, 1098 - 1157
  11. Otto II, Margrave of Meissen, 1125 - 1190
  12. Dietrich I, Margrave of Meissen, 1162 - 1221
  13. Henry III, Margrave of Meissen, c. 1215 - 1288
  14. Albert II, Margrave of Meissen, 1240 - 1314
  15. Frederick I, Margrave of Meissen, 1257 - 1323
  16. Frederick II, Margrave of Meissen, 1310 - 1349
  17. Frederick III, Landgrave of Thuringia, 1332 - 1381
  18. Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, 1370 - 1428
  19. Frederick II, Elector of Saxony, 1412 - 1464
  20. Ernest, Elector of Saxony, 1441 - 1486
  21. John, Elector of Saxony, 1468 - 1532
  22. John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, 1503 - 1554
  23. Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, 1530 - 1573
  24. John II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, 1570 - 1605
  25. Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha, 1601 - 1675
  26. John Ernest IV, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, 1658 - 1729
  27. Francis Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, 1697 - 1764
  28. Ernest Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, 1724 - 1800
  29. Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, 1750 - 1806
  30. Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, 1784 - 1844
  31. Albert, Prince Consort, 1819 - 1861
  32. Edward VII, 1841 - 1910
  33. George V, 1865 - 1936
  34. George VI, 1895 - 1952 and Edward VIII, 1894 - 1972
  35. Elizabeth II, born 1926 (daughter of George VI)

Further reading

  • Longford, Elizabeth Harman (Countess of Longford). The Royal House of Windsor. Revised ed. Crown, 1984.
  • Roberts, Andrew. The House of Windsor. University of California Press, 2000.

See also

Notes and references

External links

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