House of Windsor
Badge of the House of Windsor
Country Antigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda

Australia Australia
The Bahamas Bahamas
Barbados Barbados
Belize Belize
Canada Canada
Grenada Grenada
Jamaica Jamaica
New Zealand New Zealand
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Solomon Islands Solomon Islands
Tuvalu Tuvalu
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Parent house WettinSaxe-Coburg and Gotha
Titles Various
Founder George V
Current head Charles III
Founding year 1917

The House of Windsor is the royal house of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V by royal proclamation on 17 July 1917, when he changed the name of the British Royal Family from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (a branch of the House of Wettin) to the English Windsor, due to the anti-German sentiment in the British Empire during World War I.[1] The most prominent member of the House of Windsor is its head, Queen Elizabeth II, who is the reigning monarch of 16 Commonwealth realms.


A Good Riddance - George V of the United Kingdom cartoon in Punch, 1917

"A Good Riddance"; propaganda cartoon from Punch, Vol. 152, 27 June 1917, commenting on the King having ordered the relinquishing of the German titles held by members of his family

Edward VII and, in turn, his son, George V, were members of the German ducal House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by virtue of their descent from Albert, Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria. 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 and became a household name. In the same year, on 15 March, King George's first cousin, Nicholas II, the Emperor 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 convinced 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....[2]

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. From 1917 to 1919, George V also stripped 15 of his German relations—most of whom belonged to the House of Hanover—of their British titles and styles of prince and princess.

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".[3]

Descendants of Elizabeth II[]

In 1947, Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), heir presumptive to King George VI, married Philip Mountbatten. He was a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a branch of the House of Oldenburg, and had been a prince of Greece and Denmark. However, not wishing to repeat the difficulties of three decades previous, Philip, a few months before his marriage, renounced his princely titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten, which was that of his uncle and mentor, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and itself was adopted by the Viscount'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 of the Commonwealth realms in 1952, the Earl Mountbatten (as Philip's uncle was then known) advocated that she change the name of her royal house to House of Mountbatten; it was the standard practice for the wife in a marriage to adopt her husband's surname. When Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, heard of this suggestion, 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 who marry and their descendants, shall bear the name of Windsor."[4] 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."[5]

On 8 February 1960, after 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 who enjoy the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince or Princess.[4] Still, Elizabeth also decreed that her agnatic descendants who do not have that style and title would bear the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.[4]

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 the acting Prime Minister Rab Butler in January 1960 that for some time she had had her heart set on a change that would recognise the name Mountbatten. She clearly 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 with the name Mountbatten, before the Queen's accession to the throne.[6] 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 royal proclamations do not have statutory authority.[7]


The British royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

Members of the House of Windsor on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, 15 June 2013. Left to right: Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester; Lady Rose Gilman; Prince Michael of Kent; Princess Michael of Kent; Lady Louise Windsor; Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex; James, Viscount Severn; Sophie, Countess of Wessex; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; Queen Elizabeth II; Princess Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; Prince Harry of Wales; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; Princess Eugenie of York; Princess Beatrice of York; Prince Edward, Duke of Kent; Katharine, Duchess of Kent

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.

By early 1919 the living male-line British descendants of Victoria subject to British rule were King George V, his five sons, his daughter Princess Mary, his unmarried sister Princess Victoria, his uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, his cousin Prince Arthur of Connaught, his cousin once removed Prince Alastair of Connaught, and his unmarried cousin Princess Patricia of Connaught. Prince Alastair and Princess Victoria died unmarried and childless. Princess Mary married into the Lascelles family, and Princess Patricia married Alexander Ramsay. Neither of the Prince Arthurs had any further children, meaning all subsequent members of the House of Windsor descend from the sons of George V.

Two of George V's sons, Edward VIII (later Duke of Windsor) and Prince John, had no children, so the entire present day members of the House of Windsor are descendants of the other three sons, Prince Albert, Duke of York (later George VI), Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and Prince George, Duke of Kent.

Family tree[]

George V
Queen Mary
King Edward VIII[N 1]
King George VI
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Princess Mary, Princess Royal, 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
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Katharine, Duchess of Kent
Princess Alexandra, The Hon Lady Ogilvy
Prince Michael of Kent
Princess Michael of Kent
Diana, Princess of Wales
(div. 1996)
King Charles III
Queen Camilla
Anne, Princess Royal
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Sarah, Duchess of York
(div. 1996)
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
The Countess of Wessex
Prince William of Wales
Catherine, Princess of Wales
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
The Lady Louise Windsor
James, Viscount Severn
Prince George of WalesPrincess Charlotte of WalesPrince Louis of Wales
Prince Archie of SussexPrincess Lilibet of Sussex


Designation and details[]

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, 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 some Dominions became republics and Crown colonies became realms, republics, or monarchies under a different sovereign. Since 1949, two monarchs of the House of Windsor, George VI and Elizabeth II, have also been 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 2010
Antigua and Barbuda Flag of Antigua and Barbuda
Australia Flag of Australia (converted)
The Bahamas Flag of the Bahamas


Flag of Barbados
Belize Flag of Belize
Canada Flag of Canada
Ceylon Flag of Ceylon 1951-1972
Fiji Flag of Fiji
The Gambia

Flag of The Gambia

Ghana Flag of Ghana
Grenada Flag of Grenada
Guyana Flag of Guyana
Indian Empire British Raj Red Ensign
Union of India Flag of India
Irish Free State[N 2] Flag of Ireland
Jamaica Flag of Jamaica
Kenya Flag of Kenya
Malawi Flag of Malawi 1964-2010
Malta Flag of Malta
Mauritius Flag of Mauritius
Newfoundland Dominion of Newfoundland Red Ensign
New Zealand Flag of New Zealand
Nigeria Flag of Nigeria
Pakistan Flag of Pakistan
Papua New Guinea Flag of Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia Flag of Saint Lucia
St Vincent and the Grenadines Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sierra Leone Flag of Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands Flag of the Solomon Islands
South Africa Flag of South Africa 1928-1994

Flag of Tanganyika

Trinidad and Tobago Flag of Trinidad and Tobago
Tuvalu Flag of Tuvalu
Uganda Flag of Uganda
United Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom
1920 1925 1930 1935 1940 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010

List of monarchs of the House of Windsor[]

Portrait Name From Until Relationship with predecessor
King George V 1911 color-crop King George V 6 May 1910 20 January 1936 Son of Edward VII. Founder, House of Windsor.
A022344 King Edward VIII 20 January 1936 11 December 1936 Son of George V; Abdicated
King George VI of England, formal photo portrait, circa 1940-1946 King George VI 11 December 1936 6 February 1952 Son of George V & brother of abdicated Edward VIII
Elizabeth II Queen Elizabeth II 6 February 1952 reigning Daughter of George VI

See also[]

  • British prince
  • British princess
  • Canadian Royal Family
  • Australian Royal Family
  • History of the British line of succession
  • List of descendants of George V


  1. ^ After his abdication in 1936, King Edward VIII became the Duke of Windsor.
  2. ^ In 1936, virtually all of the functions of the monarch in the Irish Free State were removed, although the monarch was empowered to sign treaties and accredit diplomats when authorised to do so (see Executive Authority (External Relations) Act 1936). In 1937, a new constitution created the office of President of Ireland to perform many of the functions of a head of state. In 1949, the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 unambiguously severed links with the monarchy. In 1952, Elizabeth II was the first head of the House of Windsor who did not refer to Ireland (but instead to just Northern Ireland) in her regal style.


  1. ^ McGuigan, Jim (2001). "British identity and 'people's princess'". The Sociological Review 48 (1). DOI:10.1111/1467-954X.00200. Retrieved on 7 June 2013. 
  2. ^ London Gazette: no. 30186, p. 7119, 17 July 1917.
  3. ^ Carter, Miranda (2010), George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, Random House, p. xxiii, ISBN 9780307593023, 
  4. ^ a b c Royal Styles and Titles – 1960 Letters Patent
  5. ^ Brandreth, Gyles (2004). Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage. p.253–254. London: Century. ISBN 0-7126-6103-4
  6. ^ Travis, Alan (18 February 1999). "Queen feared 'slur' on family", The Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2014
  7. ^ The Royal Family name, Royal Household, retrieved 15 February 2011


  • 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.

External links[]

Royal House
House of Windsor
Preceded by
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Ruling House of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms
Succeeded by

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at House of Windsor. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.