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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Brief History:

Before the reign of King James I, Great Britain was merely a geographical name. When the last Tudorian monarch, Queen Elizabeth I, died without a direct successor, the English court ministers proclaimed King James VI of Scotland (Elizabeth's great nephew) as the new English King bearing the name King James I of England, soon, personal union of Scotland and England formed, creating the name GREAT BRITAIN.

When the last Stuart's monarch (James's great granddaughter), Queen Anne, died without children, her distant cousin, Prince George of Hanover ascended the British throne as King George I. Queen Victoria, George's great grandchild, became Queen of England when her uncle, King William IV, died without legitimate children.

But Victoria was not allowed to reign under the name Hanover because the state of Hanover in Germany maintained a Salic Law barring a woman from inheriting the Hanoverian seat, she reigned in England under the House Name, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha from which her mother, the dowager Duchess of Kent and her husband, Prince Albert, descended. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is a German Dukedom which made Victoria and her descendants thorough German and this is where the hatred of the English subjects rooted.

During World War I, which erupted in July 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, England sided with the allies and the country was at war with Germany. The German Emperor at that time was Queen Victoria's grandson, Emperor William II. In Britain, the English subjects of King George V, the Emperor's first cousin, despised German, Germany and anything Germanic.

The British King who was German by descent and has a German wife, Queen Mary, was afraid for his Kingdom to collapse just like his first cousin's empire, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, who was forced to abdicate, in part, because he too has a German wife, Empress Alexandra, another grandchild of Queen Victoria. The cautious British King could not afford to sacrifice his royal house, so he gathered his ministers and scrambled to look for a name to please his edgy subjects. His private secretary, Lord Stamfhordam, secured his place in world history for proposing the name WINDSOR

It was what the King needed. Very much English both in origin and sentiments and which summarized the glorious past of the British Empire, Windsor is taken from the name of the ancient castle which echoed mysticism, charm and legend. Windsor Castle at Berkshire, England,  had been the country retreat house of many monarchs for the past centuries, personally chosen by the first Norman King, William I, as his seat of court in 1066 when he defeated the last Anglo-Saxon King, Harold II, the castle is the ultimate symbol of the British monarchy and its people.

The official announcement of the changing of the royal house name was made on July 19, 1917. The King forever buried his German roots by declaring all his children should marry into the British nobility. The only child of George V who married a foreign royal was Prince George, the Duke of Kent, he married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, a granddaughter of King George I of Greece (younger brother of George V's mother, Queen Alexandra), all his children, except for the Prince of Wales, married into nobility.

Prince Albert, his second son, married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a daughter of a Scottish Earl, Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, married Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas Scott, a daughter of the 6th Duke of Beauccleaugh, Princess Mary, the Princess Royal, married the 6th Earl of Harewood. In addition, he made all his German relatives living in England English Dukes, Marquesses and Earls.

By keeping his distance from his German relatives, the King held the crown highly secured.He then ruled the country with prosperity for the next nineteen years with no scandal attached. King George V died in 1936, three years later, his beloved country was on the brink of World War again with Germany and the House of Windsor, which he built on the quicksand of illusion, started sinking under the weight of scandals and controversies (The Royals, K.Kelly 1997).


July 1917 - King George V made an announcement that his family would be known henceforth as the House and family of Windsor. The decision to change the royal house name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was to keep his court away from the traces of German connections at the height of World War I to pacify the British subjects who despised Germany. He was mocked by his first cousin, Emperor William II of Germany, upon hearing the announcement.

April 1923 - Following his declaration that all his children and descendants should marry into the British nobility, the King's second son, Prince Albert, the Duke of York, married Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the pretty daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. They settled in two residences, one at Picadilly Street, the other was Royal Lodge near Windsor Great Park.

1918:  From left, King George VI, then Prince Albert, (1895 - 1952), Prince George, Duke of Kent, (1902 - 1942), Queen Mary, (1867 - 1953), Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, (1900 - 1974), King George V, (1865 - 1936), and Countess of Harewood, Mary, Princess Royal, (1897 - 1965).  The family is celebrating the Silver Wedding Anniversary of King George and Queen Mary.  (Photo by W. & D. Downey/Getty Images)

Standing from Left:Prince Albert, the Duke of York, Prince George, the Duke of Kent, Prince David, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) their father King George V and only sister Princess Mary, the Princess Royal. Seated: Queen Mary. Not in photo: Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester (the third son of George V)

April 21, 1926 - The eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of York, Princess Elizabeth, was born at Bruton Street, London, the home of the Duchess of York's parents. Four years later, on August 1930, Elizabeth's only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born at Glamis Castle, childhood home of the Duchess of York.

January 1936 - King George V died from pneumonia at Sandringham, his eldest son, Prince David, immediately ascended as King Edward VIII. At 39, the newly ascended king was still unmarried and forming an illicit love affair with Wallis Simpson, an American commoner divorcee who was resented by the royal family because of her undignified background. The scandalous relationship, threatening to become public, made Stephen Baldwin, the Prime Minister at that time to declare his intention to resign. Afraid for a constitutional crisis to happen, Edward VIII proposed that he would be supported by public opinion.

December 11, 1936 - The result was unanimous, either abandon Mrs. Simpson or abdicate. Edward VIII chose the latter. On the snowy morning of December 11, 1936, he made an announcement that he could not carry his duty to his country without the support of the woman he love. He abdicated in order to marry Simpson, who was seen by royalists as an inconceivable choice for a wife of the King of the British Empire.

He was created Duke of Windsor by his brother and successor, Prince Albert who took the name George VI in honor of his father. The Duke of Windsor was ostracized from the British court forever and lived in a lonely exile in France all because of an inappropriate marriage.

The animosity of the royal family towards Wallis Simpson lasted a lifetime, until the death of her husband in 1972 from throat cancer, the Duchess of Windsor was not fully accepted into the royal family and was not granted with the HRH status, her style was only Her Grace, the Duchess of Windsor, indicating that she married only into the British nobility but not into the royal family.

September 1, 1939 - Great Britain declared war and for the second time, the country was with the Allied forces fighting against Germany. The little Princesses were evacuated to Windsor Castle for safety while the King and Queen remained in Buckingham palace to supervise the British troops. The war did not close until 1945.

May 1942 - Prince George of Kent, the younger brother of King George VI, was killed in a plane crash in Scotland while making an inspection with the troops. The duke, a professional pilot, was only 42 years old at the time of his death. He left behind three children, Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael. His wife, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, died in 1968 from  brain tumor.

November 20, 1947 - Princess Elizabeth and her third cousin, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark who took the name Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten upon marriage, married at Westminster Abbey. The Greek Prince was serving the British royal navy during the war. He was raised in England by his maternal uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Earl of Burma. Philip is the only son of Princess Alice of Battenberg (Alice Mountbatten) and Prince Andrew, the 7th child of King George I of Greece.

His maternal grandfather was Prince Louis of Battenberg, great uncle of Queen Eugenie of Spain, a decorated naval Officer who was the First Sea Lord of England at the outbreak of World War I, but due to his German heritage, he was forced to resign from the royal navy and relinquished his Princely title, he was created by his cousin, King George V as the first Marquess of Milford-haven carrying the name Louis Mountbatten. Philip's maternal grandmother was Princess Victoria, granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

February 1952 - King George VI died from coronary thrombosis at Sandringham. He was succeeded by his eldest daughter, Elizabeth who was at Kenya with her husband when her father died. She was the first British monarch after King George I, who was not in the British soil when the accession took place.

The Queen's coronation held on the following year, June 1953 at Westminster Abbey. Her husband resigned his post as Admiral of the Fleet in the British royal navy to concentrate on his role as the Queen's consort. Their first child was born on November 14, 1948, Prince Charles followed by Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew was born in February 1960 and Prince Edward in March 1964. 

May 1960 - The Queen's only sibling Princess Margaret married the royal court photographer, Tony Armstrong-Jones, he was created the Earl of Snowdon by the Queen. By giving her permission to her sister to marry Armstrong-Jones, Elizabeth was the first monarch in 500 years to allow a commoner to join in her direct family. The couple had two children: Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah. But the couple separated and got divorced in 1978. Snowdon remarried while Princess Margaret remained dedicated to her role, she died in February 2002 from stroke.

November 1969 - On his 21st birthday, the heir-to-the-throne, Prince Charles, was officially installed as the Prince of Wales at Caernervon Castle, Wales. The Prince of Wales is the permanent title of the heir-to-the-British throne but this is not automatically acquired by the first born son of the sovereign, this is granted at the pleasure of the monarch through the ceremony called the investiture.   

November 14, 1973 -Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips (on the 25th birthday celebration of Prince Charles). They were given a 500 acre estate called Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire by Her Majesty. They had two children: Peter and Zara, but the couple divorced in April 1992. The Princess Royal remarried on December 1992 to the former equerry of her mother, Timothy Lawrence, a commander in the British royal navy.

February 1981 - Buckingham Palace announced the official engagement of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. The happy news brought excitement to the people who had high hopes for the continuation of the House of Windsor. Diana was a daughter of the 8th Earl of Althorp, a wealthy nobleman and direct descendant of King Charles II. Lady Diana moved to Clarence House to live with the Queen Mother after the announcement of the engagement, she was transferred to Buckingham Palace few months before the wedding to get familiarize with the royal routine, she undergone series of lessons from royal courtiers how she will perform as Princess of Wales.

July 29, 1981 -  Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married on July 29, 1981 at St. Paul's cathedral, London in a ceremony watched by millions worldwide, it was dubbed as the wedding of the 20th century. They had two sons: Prince William and Prince Harry. However, the couple's separation was announced on December 1992.

It was reported that the Princess of Wales did not want a divorce and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who tried vainly to save the marriage, wanted the couple to remain in marriage and the separation was just only a cooling period, but the Prince of Wales was determined to end the union, on August 26, 1996 the divorce was finalized.

July 23, 1986 - The second son of Her Majesty, Prince Andrew, married Sarah Ferguson, daughter of Prince Charles's polo manager, Major Ronald Ferguson. The Queen granted him the title, Duke of York. The couple had two daughters: Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, but their marriage too ended in divorce, on March 1995. However, Sarah retained her title Duchess of York on the condition that she would not remarry, she became a successful published author in later years.

March, April, November, December 1992 - the year pronounced by Queen Elizabeth II as her "worst year". In March, the separation of the Duke and Duchess of York was announced, in April, the divorce of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips was finalized, in November, the Windsor Castle was ravaged by fire, and in December the separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales was announced.

August 31, 1997 - The House of Windsor was knocked by the devastating news of Diana's death in a car accident in Paris, France. People from all walks of life convulsed with grief offered sympathy to the royal family especially to the young Princes, flowers flooded at Kensington Palace.

Prince Charles took her body home and her coffin was draped in royal standard. She was buried at her family estate, Althorp. In November on the same year, the Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

June 19, 1999 - The Queen's youngest child, Prince Edward, married Sophie Rhys-Jones, at St.George Chapel, Windsor. He was created Earl of Wessex. The couple, on their personal decision, requested that their children should not be known as Princess and Prince so, their daughter became The Lady Louise Windsor while their son is known as Viscount Severn, James Windsor.

March 2002 - The Queen Mother died in her sleep at the Royal Lodge, she was 101 years of age at the time of her death. In the same year, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee on the throne.

June 2004 - Prince William graduated with AB Geography degree at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Two years later he joined his younger brother, Prince Harry, at the elite Royal Military Academy. The two brothers are known there as Cornet Wales.

April 9, 2005 - Prince Charles married his long time mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles in a civil ceremony. They are both divorced and the Church of England prohibited divorce people to marry again in the church. Camilla avoided the Princess of Wales title because this is much associated to Diana, fearing of people outburst, she expressed to be known as the Duchess of Cornwall taken from the second title of Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall.

Camilla had been the main cause of Diana's misery and the main reason of the dismantle of the royal marriage, she famously dubbed her "an attacked dog who sucked into the marriage". She married Andrew Parker Bowles but in 1986 she resumed her love affair with the Prince of Wales. She and her husband separated and eventually divorced in 1995. Camilla has two children on the previous marriage.

November 2007 - Prince Harry was secretly deployed to Afghanistan and served the war zone as tank commander, six months later, his presence in Afghanistan was leaked to the international press. Fearing for his safety in the war zone, his superior forced to withdraw him from the battlefield, at first the Prince was hesitant to pack up as it was his personal choice to join his comrades at the war devastated-area, but the military commanders, in reverence to his grandmother who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Armed Forces, gave an immediate order for his release, the Prince went home.

On the same month, his grandparents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Two years later, news revealed that Prince Harry and his long time girlfriend, Chelsy Davy parted ways.

May 2008 - The Queen's eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips, married his Canadian girlfriend, Autumn Kelly at St.George Chapel, Windsor. He created controversy when he sold his wedding photos exclusive at Hello!magazine. His youngest sister, Zara, announced her engagement to Mike Tindall last December 21, 2010.

November 16, 2010 - Prince William ended the speculations and rumors spreading on the media about his possible marriage. On the morning of November 16, Clarence House announced the Prince's engagement to his long time girlfriend, Kate Middleton.

The couple will wed on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey. Prince William revealed he proposed marriage to Middleton while on a vacation at Kenya last October 2010. They had been living together since early this year at Anglesey, North Wales, where the second-in-line to the British throne is serving the royal armed forces as search-and-rescue-operation pilot.

Prince William did not spend Christmas with Middleton (this year 2010), he chose to remain with his comrades at North Wales, his fiancee went home to Berkshire to join her family on Christmas eve.

There are speculations that William might bypass his father in the Kingship but officials called it as utterly nonsense. Succession is not a popularity contest and there's no way Prince William would take over the throne ahead of his father. There will be King Charles III first before King William V. Prince Charles on the other hand never entertained talks about his Kingship because it would mean the death of his mother and the heir wants to avoid, at all cost, such nasty speculations.

Despite the weight of controversies and scandals that partly damage the image of the establishment for the past eight decades, the House of Windsor remains one of the most fascinating royal houses in the world with unique history and legendary charm. While its heirs failed to uphold its myth and magic by allowing commoners to join their exalted circle, the prestige of the house continues to enthrall the world with unmistakable awe.


Adam said...

correction, & 4 years to late - George I was Queen V's 3rd great-grandfather, not 1st great-grandfather.

Adam said...

more corrections -

It is stated that Queen V

"... reigned in England under the House Name, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha from which her mother, the dowager Duchess of Kent and her husband, Prince Albert, descended."

This is NOT true. First, it is important to point out that the so-called "Hanoverians" never referred to themselves as such - it is a name later historians assigned to the dynasty, in the same way "Plantagenet" was assigned to the dynasty descended on the male line from Henry II of England. The surname of the "Hanoverians", i.e. George I through William IV, was technically Welf or Wettin. But Victoria did not adopt the surname "Hanover" because it wasn't her father's family's name anyway.

As has happened so many times in the course of English/British & even Scottish history, a monarch and/or a dynasty succeeded via the female line & royal families, just like regular families, get their surname from their male ancestors, not their females ones.

In 1917 when the family adopted Windsor as a surname, no one knew what their name was. The name "Saxe-Coburg-Gotha" is often regurgitated over & over in print since it was from where Prince Albert hailed from, but that wasn't his family's surname.

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