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Windsor, house of

Windsor, house of. The Hanoverians, who were summoned in 1714 as the nearest protestant heirs, were related to the Stuarts and previous British dynasties through Sophia, electress of Hanover, mother of George I and granddaughter of James VI and I. The original family name was Guelph. They were often known as the Brunswick line since the correct name for Hanover was first Brunswick-Calenberg-Göttingen and then Brunswick-Lüneburg. The first six rulers, up to Edward VII, married Germans: Edward in 1863 married Alexandra of Denmark, but his son George V married Mary of Teck, German by title, though brought up in Britain. Their cousins were the Battenburgs.

When war broke out in 1914 the German antecedents of the royal family were a source of embarrassment. Prince Louis Battenburg, 1st sea lord, was obliged to resign his post and, somewhat against his will, George V ordered the Garter banners of the kaiser and his family to be removed from the walls of St George's chapel at Windsor. In 1917, as a gesture of identification with the nation, George declared that all German titles and honours would be renounced and that the family would be known in future as Windsor. The new image was perfect and well received, save for some ribaldry from the kaiser. Various alternatives had been mooted: Tudor was rejected because of the image of Henry VIII, FitzRoy as smacking of bastardy, Plantagenet as unintelligible, and Stuart as dispiriting. The Battenburgs became Mountbattens and the Tecks were made Cambridges. In 1936 when Edward VIII abdicated he was given the title duke of Windsor.

J. A. Cannon

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