July 17, 1917 – The House of Windsor is Born

On this day in history, King George V changed the name of the British Royal House from the “House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha” to the “House of Windsor.”

In March of that year, London had been bombed by a heavy aircraft from Germany named the Gotha G. IV. The inclusion of “Gotha” as part of the name of the King’s dynasty was no longer acceptable.

It was allegedly Lord Stamfordham, the king’s private secretary, who came up with the Shakespearean-sounding alternative to the very politically incorrect German name. The name Windsor already had a long association with British royalty, as one of the royal residences was called Windsor Castle, after the town in which it was built. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it had been used by succeeding monarchs. Today it is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.

After the King changed his name, he also persuaded his relatives to Anglicize their names and titles, so that, for example, the Battenbergs became the Mountbattens.

Cartoon from Punch, 1917

Cartoon from Punch, 1917

But “Mountbatten” still wasn’t good enough. As the UK Express recounts:

After the Queen took to the throne in 1952, Prince Philip asked that the Royal Family take his suname and be known as the House of Mountbatten.

As Philip’s uncle Lord Mountbatten noted, it was at the time standard routine for a wife to adopt her husband’s name.

The Queen chose to retain her father’s name, Windsor, on the advice of her Prime Minister Winston Churchill and her grandmother Queen Mary.

Famously, Philip 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.’”

Elizabeth, Philip, Charles and Anne, of the House of Windsor


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