On 8 February 1960, the Queen confirmed that she and her children would continue to be known as the House and Family of Windsor. Though the Royal House is named Windsor, it was decreed, via a 1960 Order-in-Council, that those male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip who were not Princes or Princesses of the United Kingdom should have the personal surname Mountbatten-Windsor. In practice all of their children, in honour of their father, have used Mountbatten-Windsor as their surname (although Prince William has "Wales" on his military uniform, reflecting the long-standing tradition that when a surname is required, as for military service, a royal will use his most prestigious title as if it were a surname). Since becoming Queen, she is Elizabeth II, all other names are not used officially. There was a minor flap about her being the first Elizabeth to rule over Scotland (thus making her Elizabeth I there, if that rule were to be believed), but the Royal Family decided that when Scotland and England had different numbers of rulers of the same name, they would follow the higher one whether it was Scottish or English. As it happens, that is the rule that had (accidentally) been followed since the Act of Union 1707. A consequence of this is that if there were to be another King James, he would be James VIII (since James II of England was James VII of Scotland). The Windsors were also monarchs of Ireland (till 1949 or 1937, depending on how one interprets the Irish constitution), India (till 1950), and Pakistan (till 1956). As noted below, the family was originally known as the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the name of the ducal house to which Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, belonged. George V later changed this during World War One to appease the anti-German sentiment. The House of Windsor, then, from most recent death to earliest: Her Majesty the Queen, the current monarch, and her family. Elizabeth is quite popular, to the point that some of the nations of the commonwealth have actually rejected movements towards republicanism, prefering to retain her as their Head of State (even if only a ceremonial one). She is the longest-living British monarch in history, and has a chance of toppling Queen Vicky's record as longest-reigning British monarch. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother - Better known as "The Queen Mum", she lived for over 100 years and died with a bank overdraft of ten million pounds, an impressive feat in these modern times. Well known for her dry wit and being a particularly loveable figure. Spitting Image gave her a Birmingham accent—despite being ethnically Scottish—and she was invariably caricatured as being mad keen on horse-racing and gin. Which isn't actually that far wrong.* Then-Prince Albert had to propose to her three times before she said yes; she was afraid of the restrictions of royal life, but eventually decided he was worth it and agreed to marry him. It was her popularity that swung the decision in her husband's favour during the abdication crisis; Albert's younger brother Prince George was under serious consideration but it was ultimately decided that with Elizabeth beside him, Bertie could handle the job.
She earned longstanding devotion from the Blitz Generation for her and George VI's refusal to flee the country during WWII; when asked to send her children to Canada for safekeeping, she famously replied, "The girls won't leave without me, I won't leave without the King and the King will never leave". After Buckingham Palace was bombed during the Blitz, she quipped, "Finally. Now I can look the East End in the face."* She also a cruise liner named after her*. After her death it was discovered that she owned an impressive library of ska music. She has been played by Sylvia Syms in The Queen (2006), Juliet Aubrey in Bertie & Elizabeth (2002) and Helena Bonham-Carter in The King's Speech. Diana, Princess of Wales - You've almost certainly heard of her, often as the technically incorrect "Princess Diana". She was a member of the ancient and venerable Spencer family (making her a distant relative of Sir Winston Churchill)*, and a member of the Sloane Rangers, a 1980s group of young Tory upper-crust and professionals. She married Charles in 1981 and bore him two children, cheated on him with half the army list and the England rugby captain, divorced him, and then hooked up with Dodi al Fayed. She was killed in a car crash in 1997; since then numerous conspiracy theories have arisen. The details of her death and the latest conspiracy theories are regularly featured in the Daily Express up to this day. Princess Margaret - The Queen's little sister and in many ways her complete opposite. In 1953 she wanted to marry her father's equerry, Group Captain Peter Townsend (not that one). The only problem was that he was divorced, and at this time such a marriage would have been a Very Big Deal Indeed. She eventually decided against marrying Townsend and, years later, married a society photographer named Antony Armstrong-Jones; ironically, they themselves divorced in 1978 after years of bitter acrimony and mutual recriminations. Famously a good-time girl in her younger days - one of her closest friends was Peter Sellers - the rumour of her having an affair with Mick Jagger is 'unconfirmed'.note Margaret died shortly before her mother in 2002. She once said that her greatest regret in life was not having been allowed to attend school; it has been remarked that her great tragedy was to be born with frightening intelligence and no outlet for it whatsoever. No wonder she drank. George VI - (Reigned 1936-1952) Father of the current queen, husband of the late Queen Mum. Last King of Ireland and last Emperor of India. A well meaning but painfully shy and socially awkward man (rather like his grandson Charles) who led Britain through World War II. Had the misfortune to suffer a dreadful stammer which required considerable therapy, and coaching during public addresses, by Australian speech expert Lionel Logue. Only came to the throne due to the abdication of Edward VIII (which would partly explain the shyness, as he was never groomed and trained for kingship). Until then he had been known as Prince Albert. One of England's most beloved monarchs due to his steadfast leadership during the War, including his famous refusal to leave the country during the Blitz. Colin Firth plays him in the 2010 film The King's Speech, about him and his speech therapist. James Wilby played him in the 2002 feature Bertie & Elizabeth, which was part of the celebration of Her Majesty's 50th year as Queen. Samuel West will play him in the upcoming movie Hyde Park on Hudson. Edward VIII - (1936) Elder brother of George VI and uncle of Elizabeth II. Much more forceful than his brother, caused a constitutional crisis by his desire to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Abdicated after less than a year on the throne and became Duke of Windsor. Pathologically hated by quite a number of people, largely due to his being, by all accounts, both selfish and an absolute jerk. Often accused of latent (or less than latent) fascist sympathies. Despite his regnal name, the family consistently called him David. He is played by Guy Pearce in The King's Speech.
It was this anomaly in the succession that inspired the 1930s setting for Ian McKellen's film adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III. Other elements of the story appear in the film; Richard's regime is unmistakably fascist, while Edward IV's wife is given an American accent. George V - (1910-1936) Father of Edward and George, grandfather of Elizabeth II. Solid, reliable, conservative monarch, by no means intellectually brilliant but a steady capable hand (rather like Elizabeth II in fact). Led Britain through World War One. Infamously denied his cousin (Nicholas II of Russia) asylum. Tragic personal life includes the premature death of a brother (Prince Albert Victor), and his youngest son (Prince John). Technically the first Windsor - he changed the family name from the bulky "Wettin von Saxe-Coburg and Gotha" during the war to appease anti-German sentiment (particularly after the name "Gotha" became infamous due to German bombers of the same attacking London), despite ironically being as German as his cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II. When H.G. Wells referred to Britain's "alien and uninspiring court" before the name shift, George is said to have responded "I may be uninspiring, but I'll be damned if I'm an alien!"* Masterminded the royal family's media image.
Famous for having last words that may or may not be a Beam Me Up, Scotty!: during his terminal illness, one of his advisors is supposed to have said that he would soon be well enough to visit Bognor Regis. George's response? "Bugger Bognor."
He allegedly looked freaking identical to his cousin Nicholas II◊, but historians are rather disagreeing on the matter.* Was originally a Spare to the Throne, his elder brother Albert Victor died of influenza shortly before his wedding to... Queen Mary - Aka Mary of Teck (her full name is hugely bulky)* , she was the Queen Mum to the Queen Mum. Married to George V. She was a kleptomaniac and a fanatic jewel collector. Has a cruise liner named after her*. Queen Alexandra - Wife of Edward VII, she was a Danish princess before she married into the British royal family. Despite being closely related to German royalty, she was not a fan of Kaiser Wilhelm and firmly supported the British in World War I. Other than that, she was most notable for her charitable work, for her status as a fashion icon, and for being the great-grandmother of the current queen. Oh, and for Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Corps, formed in 1902, which served with distinction in both World Wars and was eventually folded into the British military itself. Edward VII - (1901-1910) Great grandfather of Elizabeth II. Lent his name to The Edwardian Era. Cigar smoking (he apparently once lit up from a church candle during a service), womanising, lively monarch who surprised everyone by being a pretty good king. A famous Francophile, paved the way for the British alliance with France (and ultimately Russia), his funeral was noted by Barbara Tuchman in The Guns of August to be the greatest assemblage of royalty in history. He was the longest-serving heir apparent in British history, until Charles beat Edward's record on April 20, 2011. Probably the only Windsor to actually enjoy being a monarch; the others seem to regard it largely as a duty.
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