Royals have spent nearly a millennia leading Britain, as the reigns have passed through dozens of monarchs. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch of any in the country, as she enters her 68th year on the throne. Her birth marked a first for what, at the time, was a relatively new Royal Family.
How did the Royal Family start?
Questions about the origins of today’s Royal Family arguably start in two places, one in 1066, and another in 1917.
The current Royal Family line emerged with the Norman invasion in 1066 when William the Conqueror landed in England.
He deposed the monarch at the time, Harald Godwinson, dismantling the House of Wessex.
His descendants passed the crown through a tangled mess of relatives and houses, and it eventually came to James VI and I in 1603.
He was the last exclusively Scottish king and first king of Great Britain.
James I was the first monarch of England, who established the Stuart house, which handed over to the House of Hanover, Queen Victoria’s family.
The Hanover house then gave birth to the modern Royal Family, but through necessity rather than heritage.
Queen Victoria’s descendants took on the name of Saxe Coburg-Gotha from her husband, Prince Albert.
But in the years following the Queen’s death, attitude slowly turned against the family.
World War One saw a spike in local anti-German sentiment, causing an uncomfortable atmosphere in the UK.
But this discomfort soon turned to dismay as Gotha bombers descended on London.
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A German invention, the planes conducted bombing runs on the city during the war.
Their attacks ripped through the country in a 12-month campaign starting in May 1917.
Official statistics showed the planes killed 836 people and wounded thousands more.
They notably hit one school in the East End, forcing the royals to change their name from one which carried a reference to one of the country’s darkest moments.
King George V ordered the Royal Family to dispense of its Saxe-Coburg Gotha name and all German titles.
His letters patent intended to form solidarity with the British war effort, and they chose to use the Windsor name from that point onwards.
Each royal has used the Windsor family name since then.
The advent of the First World War, therefore, came as a new origin for the royals, forcing them to modernise.