British Royal Family / Deutschland / England / Germany

Why King George V changed the name of the royal family from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor

British royal family change their name to Windsor – archive 1917

One hundred years ago, King George V changed the name of the British royal family from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor

King George V cartoon sweeping german titles

Mon 17 Jul 2017 12.31 BST

Last modified on Thu 26 Mar 2020 14.19 GMT


On 17 July 1917 King George V issued a proclamation declaring “The Name of Windsor is to be borne by His Royal House and Family and Relinquishing the Use of All German Titles and Dignities.”

Manchester Guardian, 18 July 1917.

Manchester Guardian, 18 July 1917. Read the full article.

This name change saw every German reference and title being replaced with something British. The use of “Degrees, Styles, Dignities, Titles and Honours of Dukes and Duchesses of Saxony and Princes and Princesses of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and all other German Degrees, Styles, Dignities, Titles, Honours and Appellations,” was to be discontinued.

The decision to adopt Windsor as the family name came amid strong anti-German feeling during the first world war. But the turning point was public anger at air raids over London, and in particular the bombing of a school in the East End.

On 13 June 1917, the Germans began daylight raids on Britain and in one of the first attacks 18 children were killed when a bomb fell directly onto Upper North Street School in Poplar. German Gotha bombers carried out the strike – by coincidence, the same name as the royal family.

News of the proposed name change first appeared in the Manchester Guardian in mid-June 1917.

Manchester Guardian, 20 June 1917.

Manchester Guardian, 20 June 1917. Read the full article.

This was accompanied by family tree illustrating the relationship between the royal house and the German families of Teck and Battenberg.Queen feared ‘slur’ on familyRead more

Manchester Guardian, 20 June 1917.

Manchester Guardian, 20 June 1917.

A week later, it was revealed which other royal names were to change.

Teck and Battenberg princes: their British surnames
17 June 1917
The King has approved of the following titles being adopted:-
Duke of Teck: Marquis of Cambridge
Prince Alexander of Teck: Earl of Athlone
Prince Louis of Battenberg: Marquis of Milford Haven
Prince Alexander of Battenberg: Marquis of Carisbrooke

Commenting on the name change, a Guardian editorial noted “The British Royal Family will no doubt be known in future simply as the House of Britain. War or no war, the change would be sensible, for nothing but pedantry keeps alive the German title.”

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