Well that was distracting…

So, Happy New Year and all of that… I was hoping to finish my posts on my October trip to Old Blighty, but I’ll get to that later…

About a month ago my mom called wanting to know the Royal Family’s last name. A bit of panic washed over me as I could not for the life of me come up with an answer. I was at first inclined simply to say “Why, it’s Windsor, of course!” However, I’m pretty sure this is wrong.

Our phone conversation on the matter lasted all of 90 seconds, but the black hole of research I fell into immediately following the call lasted well over an hour. And I was at work, mind you.

What I’d like to share with you now is the email I sent my mother after I managed to claw my way out of the murky, muddy pit…

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To: My mum’s email address

Subject: Well that was distracting…

I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t answer your questions outright… so I did some research… =)

I don’t think Windsor has anything to do with anyone’s LAST NAME. It’s just the HOUSE the bloodline comes from.

The House of Windsor began in 1917 by George V by royal proclamation. He changed it from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha because of the anti-German sentiment in the UK during WWI. Also, probably because that was a dumb name.

Now, how to explain this without jumping around…you’re not just talking about the royal line of succession, you’re talking about what it looked like before any of these people got married or were crowned! Oy.

Before Queen Elizabeth II was coronated, she was Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh (yes, both a princess AND a duchess). She gained the duchess part when she married.

  • Elizabeth and Philip were granted Duke/Duchess of Edinburgh upon their marriage, by Elizabeth’s father, George VI. (Oh, and Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip are second cousins, once removed.)
  • Phillip’s full name before marriage was Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, but he renounced his Greek and Danish titles and adopted the British surname.

Prince William recently gained the duke part, as did his wife gain the duchess. The King/Queen grants them their duke/duchess “locale.” I think William specifically requested Cambridge because he didn’t want Canterbury…it was bad luck or something. Anyway, I believe that Prince William, while still a prince, of course, will never again be referred to as a Prince of Wales. (If his father abdicates, or dies, Wills will become King William [roman numeral] of England…and the realm.)

Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay m. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall…NOW, Camilla isn’t “known” as the Duchess of Rothesay because DIANA was more commonly referred to as the Duchess of Rothesay (even though she was also Duchess of Cornwall).

  • The other thing is, Camilla isn’t a princess even though her husband is a prince… neither is Kate Middleton…she’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and will be until her husband is crowned king, then she will become the Queen Consort.
  • Prince Philip is a prince to his wife’s queen only because he was ALREADY a prince before he married. Kate was a commoner…I don’t think she’ll ever TECHNICALLY become princess OR queen.

Coronation and marriage seem to do strange things to the naming scheme… hard to figure out and I think they’re still making it up as they go along.

Prince William, the newly named Duke of Cambridge was Prince William of Wales until he married. Harry will remain Prince Harry of Wales until he’s married and is given Duke of London or Bristol or Manchester United, or whatever. Both are still princes, no matter what, but what they’re formally referred to is different now.

NOW, if the current queen should die AND Prince Charles doesn’t abdicate, Prince William’s title may change again because he will officially become NEXT IN LINE for the throne. But I really don’t know because the “of Wales” part in Charles’ title doesn’t seem as random when you look at the line of succession… his grandfather was HRH Prince George of Wales before he was crowned King, and his great-grandfather, Edward VII was HRH Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales before HE was crowned king upon his mother, Queen Victoria’s death.

  • But, AHA! QueenVictoria was HRH Princess Alexandrina Victoria of KENT before she was crowned queen. WTF!? Now I know why there are so many royal historians!

So, Charles will become [King] Charles (insert roman numeral here), and Wills MIGHT become Prince of [BRITISH PLACE], Duke of Cambridge. Or he might go back to HRH Prince William of Wales. Get it? No? Well, me either.

I think on Prince William’s birth certificate, it would have only said: HRH (His Royal Highness) William Arthur Phillip Louis.

Now, one of the only things that makes sense based on all of the above, Prince Harry is unmarried, so he’s not the Duke of anything yet… is HRH Prince Harry of Wales, taken from his father still. When he marries, he’ll be given a Duke of SOME PLACE WITHIN THE REALM name.

So…what did we learn? Nothing, really. It seems one of the perks of being a royal is that you can do whatever you damn well please. =) 

I love you!

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2 Responses to Well that was distracting…

  1. Thanks for this great post! Although the whole royal-naming thing is confusing, it’s also fascinating. Is it true that while Prince William was a student at St. Andrews, he was known as “William Wales”?

  2. Thanks, Kathy! It can be quite confusing, but so fascinating that it’s easy to fall into a research trap/loop.
    I have heard about the William Wales nickname, but I’m not sure if it’s true. I’m sure he was called a lot of things…most not to his face. 🙂

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