100 years on, how the House of Windsor was born


Blackleaf
#1
A new six-part Channel 4 documentary started this week about the history of Britain's current royal dynasty - the Windsors - 100 years after the dynasty was started.

Episode 1 of the series revealed how the dynasty got its name...


How the House of Windsor was born: Documentary reveals the man who scoured history books to find a British name for the Royal Family (and why Stuart and Tudor didn't make the cut)

In 1917 King George V decided it was time to lose the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha name
He asked private secretary Lord Stamfordham to find a fitting British alternative
Lord Stamfordham trawled through history books but struggled to find one
He was finally struck by inspiration while working at Windsor Castle in June


By Stephanie Linning
23 February 2017
Daily Mail

The Windsor name is now synonymous with the grace, grit and majesty of the British Royal Family.

But just 100 years ago they were the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the name given to the Royal Family by Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert.

In the spring of 1917, King George V, aware of the monarchy's precarious future, decided it was time for the family to find a British name, one that would alleviate the concerns of a public gripped by an anti-German sentiment.

The man tasked with the job was Lord Stamfordham, the king's trusted private secretary. He trawled through history books but struggled to find a name untouched by the monarchy's own bloody history - passing over Tudor, Stuart and Plantagenet - before finally being struck by inspiration while working in Windsor Castle.


Precarious position: King George V, pictured with wife Queen Mary in 1919, wanted the Royal Family to have a name that would raise its standing in the eyes of the British people


Future of the monarchy: This year the House of Windsor celebrates its centenary. Pictured, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte

The remarkable story of how this royal aide influenced - and possibly secured - the future of the Royal Family was told last night in the first of a six-part Channel 4 documentary series celebrating the centenary of the House of Windsor.

The significance of Stamfordham's work was summarised in a letter from Archibald Primrose, Lord Rosebery, the former prime minister, in June 1917.

He wrote: 'Do you realise you have just Christened a dynasty? There are few people in the world who have done this. None, I think. It is really something to be historically proud of. I admire and envy you.'


Difficult task: Lord Stamfordham, King George's private secretary, pored over history books in the hope of finding a name

But before this Lord Stamfordham, who also served Queen Victoria, faced several knock backs from the King and the Prime Minister, who were both keen to avoid names with any negative connotation.

In a memorandum from 15 May 1917, Lord Stamfordham wrote: 'The King bars Plantagenet and does not care about Tudor. Tudor-Stuart has been suggested.'

These were later rejected by former Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.

Lord Stamfordham wrote on June 11: 'Mr Asquith has advised against Tudor, with its recollections of Henry VIII and Bloody Mary. Mr Asquith was equally averse to Stuart, one of whom was beheaded and the last driven from the throne.'

Another option available was Fitzroy. However, this was also dismissed for a number of reasons - including its connection to Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII.

On 20 May, Lord Stamfordham wrote: 'He does not like Fitzroy. It hinted at wealth, but that is too foreign and is not at all liked by their Majesties who also disapprove of Fritzroy and its bastard significance'.


Family line: King George VI, left with his wife Queen Elizabeth, passed the Windsor name to Queen Elizabeth II

Seemingly losing hope, on 23 May Stamfordham despaired: 'It is disastrous. The King is all for a prompt settlement.'

It would be nearly a month before a suitable solution was found.

NOTES ON A NAME

20 May 1917: 'He does not like Fitzroy. It hinted at wealth, but that is too foreign and is not at all liked by their Majesties who also disapprove of Fritzroy and its bastard significance'.

11 June 1917: 'Mr Asquith has advised against Tudor, with its recollections of Henry VIII and Bloody Mary. Mr Asquith was equally averse to Stuart, one of whom was beheaded and the last driven from the throne.'

13 June 1917: 'I hope we may have finally discovered a name which will appeal to you, and that is that Queen Victoria will be regarded as having founded the House of Windsor.


The turning point was on 13 June, when London was raided by the German Gotha bombers. The city and the British people were brought to their knees by aircraft carrying the name of their own Royal Family.

That same day Stamfordham finally struck inspiration while working in Windsor Castle. He outlined his proposal in a letter to the Prime Minister.

'I hope we may have finally discovered a name which will appeal to you, and that is that Queen Victoria will be regarded as having founded the House of Windsor.'

The change had its desired effect almost immediately.

On 18 July 1917, Colonel Unsworth wrote to Lord Stamfordham, just months after he had warned of a growing anti-royal feeling among the British people.

He wrote: 'Their strong efforts to remove, in every possible way, the German influence and power from the Court will have its fruit in the affection and loyalty of their devoted subjects.'


Inspiration: The glorious Windsor Castle in Berkshire, a residence beloved by the Queen

English royal dynasties

House of Normandy: 1066-1154
House of Plantagenet: 1154-1485
House of Tudor: 1485-1603
House of Stuart: 1603-1707

British royal dynasties

House of Stuart: 1707-1714
House of Hanover: 1714-1901
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha: 1901-1917
House of Windsor: 1917-present


ROMANOV PRINCESS BREAKS DOWN AS SHE DISCOVERS KING GEORGE BETRAYED HIS COUSIN

The episode also tackled the relationship between King George V and his cousin, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

At one point Princess Olga Romanoff, the great-niece of the Tsar who lives in Britain, broke down in tears as she learned how it was the King's actions that led to the massacre of the Russian dynasty.

'My father never said it was George's fault,' she said. 'He always thought it was the prime minister – but apparently it wasn't the prime minster at all. It was all George's fault. I'm very glad my father died before the letter was found because he would have been really upset.'


Close: A photograph of King George V with his first cousin, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia


Emotional: Princess Olga Romanoff breaks down as she discovers how King George V betrayed his ancestors by refusing to grant them asylum after the revolution

At the start of the century, the two royal cousins – both grandchildren of King Christian IX of Denmark – were very close. They holidayed together, counselled each other and let it be known (and the letters exist to prove this) that they were devoted to each other.

When the imperial Russian family was threatened by the Bolsheviks in 1917 then, it was only natural that Nicholas should seek asylum in Britain and his first request for help from the Government was received with an immediate 'of course'.

For reasons that have only recently come to light, however, the invitation was rescinded.


Overcome: Princess Olga cried as she recalled what happened to her family in Russia

Everyone knows what happened next: the tsar, his wife Alexandra and their five children – Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei – were herded into a cellar and shot.

The full story of how they died would not be released for 75 years, but Princess Olga (whose grandmother, the tsar's sister, was later welcomed to the UK with open arms) grew up believing that it was Lloyd George, the then prime minister, who had blocked her family's flight.

What a blow to discover it was the king himself – acting on advice from his adviser Lord Stamfordham – who was responsible.

Read more: How King George V created the Windsor name for the royals | Daily Mail Online
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Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 25th, 2017 at 08:32 AM..
 
Curious Cdn
#2
The "House of Windsor" was born when some Germans needed to shed their too ethnic "Saxe Cobourg Gotha" name during a war to something more "Anglo".
 
Blackleaf
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious CdnView Post

The "House of Windsor" was born when some Germans needed to shed their too ethnic "Saxe Cobourg Gotha" name during a war to something more "Anglo".

And quite rightly. The Bosch would have done the same had British aircraft called Hohenzollern bombed them during the Great War.
 
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