A century of Royal service – the House of Windsor

The House of Windsor came into being in July 1917 by proclamation of George V. Since then the House of Windsor has produced four monarchs who have reigned over the subjects of Britain and the Commonwealth for 100 years. Both George V and George VI dedicated their lives to the service of their country, as has Her Majesty The Queen, the nation’s longest reigning monarch.

In 2017 we celebrate a century of Royal service on a UK £5 coin, featuring a design based on the badge of House of Windsor approved by George VI. The House of Windsor has served the United Kingdom ever since the Royal Family took a new name in 1917 – we find out how and why this new dynasty was established.

In 1910, George V came to the throne during a time of great political and cultural change. As first Windsor king, George V took a far more active role than any of his predecessors in bringing the monarchy to the people. During the First World War he acted as a figurehead and symbolic leader of the nation’s struggle, himself and the Queen made more than 450 visits to troops and 300 morale-boosting tours of hospitals treating wounded servicemen. In addition to this, it was George V who pressed for proper treatment of German prisoners-of-war and more humane treatment of conscientious objectors at home.

George V portrait

Seven years later, amid a wave of anti-German feeling during the First World War, George V decided a change was needed. In July 1917, George V issued a proclamation that his royal house and family should be known, from that moment onwards, as the house and family of Windsor consequently giving up the name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, which had come to the family in 1840, with the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert.

Some suggest that the change of name was prompted by the bombing of London by a German heavy aircraft, the Gotha G.IV, in March 1917, at the height of the First World War. Historians now believe that George V and his advisers thought it inappropriate that his family should bear a German name while Britain and her Allies were fighting such a terrible war with Germany.

Royal Proclamation

“Now, therefore, We, out of Our Royal Will and Authority, do hereby declare and announce that as from the date of this Our Royal Proclamation Our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that all the descendants in the male line of Our said Grandmother Queen Victoria who are subjects of these Realms, other than female descendants who may marry or may have married, shall bear the said Name of Windsor.”

Royal Proclamation of George V, July 1917

And with a new name, the Windsor dynasty was born. Since it was established in 1917, four monarchs have served under the House of Windsor; George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II. In the last century we have witnessed some of the most remarkable events in British royal history, from the shortest reign of the dynasty in 1936 following Edward VIII’s abdication, to Her Majesty The Queen becoming the world’s longest reigning living monarch!

The House of Windsor‘s century of royal service is celebrated on a UK £5 coin. The design by Timothy Noad, focuses on Windsor Castle’s round tower – the official badge of the House of Windsor of which was approved by George VI. The coin is available in Brilliant Uncirculated, Silver Proof, Silver Proof PiedfortGold Proof and can also be found in the 2017 Annual Sets. To find out more, visit our House of Windsor discover page.


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