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From a cursory reading of succession and Houses in royal families it seems that tradition requires Houses to be inherited through patrilineange. And so when the Monarchy passes through a female there is a change of House.

Some examples of this:

  • The House of Hanover was the House Queen Victoria belonged to, and her son Edward VII was a Saxe-Coburg-Gotha King, inheriting the house of his father. (Of course this name was changed to Windsor during WW1...but still remaining the same House)
  • The House of Stuart changed to the House of Hanover as succession passed through Queen Anne
  • The House of Tudors changed to the House of Stuart as succession passed through Queen Elizabeth I (Notably the House did not change between Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I because they were sisters - coming from the same father)
  • The same is true for the change between the House of Norman and the House of Plantagenet as succession passed through Empress Matilda. Though those terms exactly were not used at that time; instead it was "Norman Kings" to "Plantagenet Kings" but same idea.

The other times Houses changed in England were because of other reasons (i.e. Wars of the Roses).

So what gives? Why is Charles III not the first Mountbatten King?

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  • 22
    Just as a point of accuracy; George I wasn't the offspring of Anne, nor was James VI & I the offspring of Elizabeth I. In those cases, it was an entirely different and somewhat distantly separated branch of the family which took over. Sep 14, 2022 at 7:15
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    @GeoffAtkins Yes, and neither was Henry II the offspring of Stephen, whom he succeeded (and Stephen did have surviving issue). While it would be accurate to call him a Norman king, this was the point where it became relevant to distinguish which branch of that dynasty he belonged to. Sep 14, 2022 at 11:55
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    While it's a dramatized TV show The Crown S1E3 "Windsor" goes into this in pretty good detail.
    – Machavity
    Sep 14, 2022 at 16:26
  • There was a lot of "infighting" over the name - culinating in the proclamation mentioned by Don Hosek. Sep 15, 2022 at 10:26
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    @EspeciallyLime I don't think Henry II was very Norman, as his Dad, Geoffrey le Bel, was the Count of Anjou; his Mum, Matilda, was the daughter of a Norman king and a Saxon mother. Sep 16, 2022 at 7:35

1 Answer 1

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Wikipedia provides a direct explanation:

Soon after Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, Lord Mountbatten observed that because it was the standard practice for the wife in a marriage to adopt her husband's surname, the House of Mountbatten now reigned. When Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, heard of this comment, she informed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and he later advised the Queen to issue a royal proclamation declaring that the royal house was to remain known as the House of Windsor. This she did on 9 April 1952, officially declaring it her "Will and Pleasure that I and My children shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that My descendants, other than female descendants who marry and their descendants, shall bear the name of Windsor."

Even so, Charles’s last name is, in fact, Mountbatten (later changed to Mountbatten-Windsor) as he was born before Elizabeth’s accession to the throne and Wikipedia also notes that genealogically speaking, Charles and his descendants belong to the House of Glücksburg.

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    Ironically, I suppose, considering Lord Mountbatten's comment, 'Mountbatten' originated as 'Battenberg'.
    – j4nd3r53n
    Sep 14, 2022 at 14:15
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    "Even so, Charles’s last name is, in fact, Mountbatten". An alternative view is that Charles did not have a last name. He may have used Mountbatten or Mountbatten-Windsor for convenience from time to time, but was it part of his name? Depends what you mean? (It is much easier to argue that he no longer has a last name.) Sep 15, 2022 at 7:37
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    Ironically (also) the "House of Windsor" was itself something of a fiction, as it was originally the "House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha", but George V changed it during WWI to Windsor so it would sound less German. Sep 15, 2022 at 13:56
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    The House of Mountbatten was Battenberg before 1917. So Mountbatten-Windsor was Battenberg-Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha before.
    – Uwe
    Sep 15, 2022 at 20:36
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    Mountbatten was a controversial character, and would have been delighted to have his name attached to the British royal family, but nobody else including the queen would have accepted this.
    – Rich
    Sep 19, 2022 at 3:33

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