Government and Politics

The Windsors

How did the House of Windsor originate?

The origins of Windsor, the family name of the royal house of Great Britain, can be traced to the 1840 marriage of Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to 1901, to her first cousin Albert, the son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (in present-day Germany). As a foreigner, Prince Albert had to overcome the distrust of the British public, which he did by proving himself to be a devoted husband to Queen Victoria and by demonstrating his genuine concern in Britain’s national affairs. Victoria and Albert had nine children. Their oldest son, Albert Edward (1841–1910), became King Edward VII upon Victoria’s death in 1901. But Edward’s reign lasted only until 1910, when he died and his son, George V (1865–1936), ascended the throne. George was king during World War I (1914–18), and, in 1917, with Britain and Germany bitter enemies, he denounced his ties and claims to Germany, superseding his grandfather’s (Prince Albert’s) family name of Wettin and establishing the House of Windsor.

Thus, George V was the first ruling member of the House of Windsor. The others were Edward VIII (1894–1972), who abdicated the throne in 1936 so that he could marry American socialite Wallis Simpson (1896–1986); George VI (1895–1952), who became king upon his brother Edward’s abdication and who would work tirelessly during World War II (1939–45) to keep up the morale of the British people; and Elizabeth II (1926-), George VI’s elder daughter, who still reigns as Queen of England today. Elizabeth, who ascended the throne in 1952, proclaimed that she and all her descendants who bear the title prince or princess are to be known as Windsor.


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