Is the Royal Family German? Their heritage explained
King Charles visited Berlin on his first state visit this week, where he pledged to “strengthen the connections between the UK and Germany.
At a state banquet hosted by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the King gave a speech in both English and German.
He said: “My wife and I have been so deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome that has been extended to us in Germany – just as we have on each of our previous visits to this very special country.”
King Charles also became the first British monarch to address the Bundestag.
But the ties are deeper than some people may realise, as the British Royal Family has German heritage.
🤝 This morning, The King met Chancellor Scholz at the Federal Chancellery.@Bundeskanzler #RoyalVisitGermany pic.twitter.com/X7R3dALsfl
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 30, 2023
Is the British Royal Family German?
King Charles III is the fourth monarch from the house of Windsor following his mother Queen Elizabeth II, his grandfather George VI, and his great-grandfather, George V.
But the House of Windsor was formerly called the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
And, before the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Britain was ruled by the house of Hanover.
Find out below the history of the Royal Family and their ties to Germany.
House of Hanover
The House of Hanover was established by George I, who became King of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714.
George I was born in Germany and was the Elector of Hanover. He spoke German and French, and only a little English. He had a right to the British throne through his second cousin, Queen Anne, as her closest Protestant relative.
He was succeeded by George II, George I’s son, who many British people also considered foreign, as he was born outside Britain and left Parliament to deal with British affairs.
But his son, George III, was born in London, and was more widely considered to be English.
He was succeeded by George IV, followed by William IV, and finally, Victoria.
Queen Victoria married Prince Albert (Prince Franz August Karl Albert Emanuel) son of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (later Saxe-Coburg-Gotha), and Duchess Louise of Saxe-Coburg-Altenburg.
Prince Albert grew up near Coburg in Germany and attended the University of Bonn.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had nine children, with four of their daughters marrying German nobility.
(Victoria’s daughter, Alice, married Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, and would go on to have a daughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine.
Princess Victoria would go on to become the grandmother of Prince Philip.
Therefore, Prince Philip’s great-great-great grandmother was Queen Victoria, who was the Queen’s great-great grandmother.
Queen Victoria was succeeded by her son, Edward VII, who established the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha/Windsor
Edward II was the first monarch of the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, named after his father. He was succeeded by his son, George V.
In 1917, amid World War I, George V declared that Queen Victoria’s male descendants who were British subjects would adopt the surname Windsor.
This was to distance the Royal Family from the anti-German sentiment that was prevalent during the war.
In 1952, after Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne, she declared that her children would take the surname Windsor.
Traditionally, they would have taken their father’s surname, Mountbatten, which was an anglicised version of the German Battenberg.
In fact, Prince Philip took the surname Mountbatten from his maternal grandparents, when he renounced his Greek and Danish titles and became a British subject, in 1947.
Some people in the family still use the name Mountbatten, like Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince Edward’s daughter.