- Europe's royal families are closely related
- The British royals have many German ancestors
- This is how they connect to Germany today
Have you ever heard it said that the British Royal Family is... German?
In the last few centuries, European royal houses were linked through marriage policies. The British royals were at the centre of it all, and Queen Elizabeth II and her descendants have German ancestors. Just how German is the British Royal Family?
This is how the British Royals connect to Germany
Although the British royals aren't so in touch with their German origins anymore, they are historically quite German. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria married her German cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The two had nine children.
Queen Victoria, great-great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth, inherited her father's throne at the age of just 18. She ruled Great Britain from 1837 to 1901. Victoria reigned for a proud 63 years, an era during which she undertook many reforms.
After her death, her son King Edward VII, the Queen's great-grandfather, took over the British throne. He was the first British king from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and he was of direct German descent through his father.
The next regent was King George V, son of Edward VII. However, he distanced the Royal Family from their German origins during World War I. In 1917, the Royal Family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha became the Windsors. The German-sounding name was discarded.
The British royal website notes that the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was short-lived as a British dynasty. But even long before that, German roots are found in the British royal family tree.
King George I ascended the throne in 1714 and was the first king from the House of Hanover, a German dynasty that ruled the monarchy in Great Britain until 1901. So Queen Victoria was also part German.
Only with the death of Queen Victoria did the ruling houses change. For a few years, the British royals bore the name of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The Queen's grandfather then changed the family name.
Since 1917, the British royals have been known almost exclusively under Windsor. By marriage of Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Philip, who also has German roots, their descendants call themselves Mountbatten-Windsor. The Queen's family tree shows that her ancestors came from Germany.
Prince Charles is next in line to the throne, and he has German ancestry from his parents. However, neither Diana Spencer nor Kate Middleton is significantly German, so the German influence will decline under future kings Prince William and Prince George.
Royal marriage policies of the past influenced European royalty for centuries. In this way, the high nobility tried to expand their rule by marrying their descendants to other well-known houses.