Table of Contents
- Why Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Don’t Have Last Names
- What is the Royal Family’s last name?
- What is Queen Elizabeth’s last name?
- When did the royal family change its name to Windsor?
- What Is Prince William’s Last Name and Why Doesn’t He Use It?
- Does Prince William have a last name?
- Prince William’s last name
- Royal family last name
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s New Royal Baby Boy’s Name Has Just Been Announced
- Why Don’t Royals Use a Last Name?
- Who gets to use the last name Mountbatten-Windsor?
- Why do some people use the surname Windsor, without the Mountbatten?
- Where does the name Mountbatten-Windsor come from?
- Does the Royal Family Have a Last Name?
- Does the royal family have a last name?
- Where did the royal family’s last name come from?
- Wait, what’s their house name? And what’s their surname?
- Where does ‘Mountbatten’ come from?
- So which members of the royal family would use a last name?
- What will change when Prince Charles becomes king?
Why Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Don’t Have Last Names
When Meghan Markle married Prince Harry at St. George’s Chapel on May 19, 2018, her last name could have become Mountbatten-Windsor. However, since royals tend to be known only by their first names, it’s not likely that you’d see the Duchess of Sussex formally referred to by the royal last name very often regardless.
Just as her future sister-in-law is mainly referred to by her maiden name, Kate Middleton, or the title she was given by Queen Elizabeth at her wedding to Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Markle only added the royal title of Duchess of Sussex to her current moniker on the day of her wedding to Prince Harry.
However, when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced the name of their new royal baby boy on May 8, they revealed that his full name, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, includes the royal surname. At this point in time, Archie has no known title.
What is the Royal Family’s last name?
The royal family’s naming practice may seem complicated, but the reason behind it is relatively simple: The royals are typically so well known that they don’t need a last name to be recognized. “Members of the Royal Family can be known both by the name of the Royal house, and by a surname, which are not always the same,” the official royal website reads. “And often they do not use a surname at all.”
The Royal Family during the Trooping the Colour, this year marking the Queen’s official 90th birthday at The Mall in London, England on June 11, 2016 DZY—Getty
This means that Prince Harry’s full name could technically be Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor and that Markle could have become Rachel Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor following their royal wedding. However, considering last names are typically only used by members of the royal family without a title, you don’t need to worry about tacking the hyphenated surname onto Harry and Meghan’s names.
Members of the Royal Family can also use a last name from their family’s official title. For example, Prince Harry and Prince William were known at school and in the military as Harry Wales and William Wales, a surname that derived from their father’s official title. Prince George, meanwhile, has taken the surname Cambridge at school, from his father’s title as Duke of Cambridge.
Basically, when in doubt about how to refer to a member of the royal family, first names and titles are the safe way to go.
What is Queen Elizabeth’s last name?
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born to the Duke and Duchess of York—later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother—on April 21, 1926. She became next in line to the crown when her father, King George VI, ascended the throne following the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, in 1936.
Princess Elizabeth was born into the royal house of Windsor, making her last name, if she needed it — you guessed it — Windsor.
When did the royal family change its name to Windsor?
Queen Elizabeth was born with the last name Windsor. But that wouldn’t have been the case before 1917, the year her grandfather, King George V, decided to not only switch his house name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in order to head off anti-German sentiments during WWI, but also designated Windsor as the royal family’s official surname going forward.
Before 1917, British royals went only by their first name and the name of the house or dynasty they belonged to, such as Tudor or Hanover—i.e., Queen Victoria of the House of Hanover.
Following her marriage to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten—later Prince Philip—in 1947 and her ascension to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II made a slight adjustment to her grandfather’s naming decree by adding a hyphenated “Mountbatten” to the last name of her descendants to reflect the surname of her husband.
20th November 1947: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, waving to a crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, shortly after their wedding at Westminster Abbey. Keystone—Getty Images
Today, the last name of the British royal family remains Windsor. However, royals who are descended from Queen Elizabeth II through the male line use the hyphenated surname Mountbatten-Windsor when needed. This last name reflects both the surname of the royal family and that of the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip.
“It was therefore declared in the Privy Council that The Queen’s descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor,” the official royal website reads.
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What Is Prince William’s Last Name and Why Doesn’t He Use It?
There are a lot of questions about the royal family’s last name — especially why certain members don’t use it. And, as with most royal topics, it all comes down to Queen Elizabeth’s infamous rulebook. Despite all having the same house name (aka, last name), many royals go by entirely different names or ditch the surname altogether. On top of that, some royals change it up depending on their royal title. Case in point: Prince William’s last name has changed a couple of times in his life (and will continue to do so as he gets closer to the throne).
Kate Middleton and Prince William don’t require a last name. | Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images
What is Prince William’s last name? Find out, plus why he doesn’t use it, ahead.
Does Prince William have a last name?
In the royal family, members with Her or His Royal Highness in their official title — such as Prince William — don’t exactly have a last name.
Because of his royal ranking, Prince William technically isn’t required to use the royal family’s last name. The idea behind it is that since he holds such noble status, he doesn’t need a surname to differentiate himself from other royals and public figures. Everyone should know him as Prince William or the Duke of Cambridge and that’s that.
While that isn’t untrue, not having a last name (or not going by one) can get a bit complicated — especially at school, work, or in the military. Even though the Duke of Cambridge doesn’t need a last name (at least in the same way most commoners do), he has needed to use one for some of his responsibilities. The only difference is, the future king has options when calling himself anything but his first name or official royal title.
Prince William’s last name
As a member of the royal family, you can kind of do whatever you please when it comes to last names. Many members with the His or Her Royal Highness status don’t use a last name at all — especially those with full-time jobs representing The Crown — but, in their youth, might have been required outside of the monarchy to provide further identification. Prince William has lots of experience with that as the royal once attended school and even held a job outside of the royal family.
What is Prince William’s last name? According to the royal family’s website, all descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are Mountbatten-Windsors. However, they can also go by the region in their official royal title. For example, when Prince William was a young boy, he likely went by William Wales (Prince Harry was known as Harry Wales during his time in the military), as his official royal title was Prince William of Wales. Now, as the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William could go by William Cambridge.
Royal family last name
Before 1917, the royal family didn’t have a proper last name. But, King George V stepped in and declared Windsor as the family’s house name and official last name. When Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip and became monarch, they decided to change their last name to reflect their descendants.
Instead of changing the royal family’s last name to Mountbatten (Prince Philip’s surname), the royal couple decided to combine the two names and become the Mountbatten-Windsors.
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As we cope with the announcement that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are stepping down as senior members of the royal family, questions continue to arise over what this means for the couple. Duty and financial inquiries aside, many folks are asking about the status of their titles and monikers. Now that they’re not *officially* working for the British monarchy, folks want to know: what will Meghan and Harry’s last name be?
The answer, as you probably could guess, isn’t super straightforward. That said, the last name they gave their son, Archie Harrison, when he was born last May might be an indicator.
While Harry and Meghan are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and could technically use “Sussex” for themselves or Archie in school or other government paperwork — Prince William and Kate Middleton use “Cambridge” since they are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — the pair chose to put “Mountbatten-Windsor” as their son’s official last name. Technically, Meghan and Harry have the option to use the same surname, as well.
Why Mountbatten-Windsor? Per the royal family’s website, in 1960, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh decided that they wanted to distinguish their direct descendants with a different last name. Before this, “Windsor” was the surname used by all male and unmarried female descendants of King George V.
“It was therefore declared in the Privy Council that The Queen’s descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor,” the site reads, noting that “Mountbatten” is in reference to Prince Philip’s surname.
“The effect of the declaration was that all The Queen’s children, on occasions when they needed a surname, would have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.”
And so, assuming Meghan and Harry wish to have the same last name as their son, it’s believed that when a surname is required, the pair will likely take up Mountbatten-Windsor.
It’s important to note, though, that a statement released by Her Majesty this past week declared that Harry and Meghan “will not use their HRH titles” anymore. Notice the word “use” here — as ITV News royal editor Chris Ship points out, this means that Harry and Meghan will still be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but will simply have the “royal highness” privileges taken away. The title loss is similar to how Her Royal Highness Princess Diana became “Diana, Princess of Wales” after she divorced Prince Charles in 1996.
Clarification on the HRH style: both Harry and Meghan will RETAIN them but they will no longer USE them.
They will be known as
• Harry, The Duke of Sussex
• Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex#HarryandMeghan
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) January 18, 2020
In the end, though, this shouldn’t affect their last name — we’re still willing to bet that Mountbatten-Windsor will be the moniker they use on occasions that a surname is deemed necessary. Of course, Meghan and Harry have broken with royal protocol before, so it wouldn’t be entirely shocking if they went a different route. At this point, it’s still a bit of a wait-and-see game.
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Related Stories Kayla Keegan News and Entertainment Editor Kayla Keegan covers all things in the entertainment, pop culture, and celebrity space for Good Housekeeping.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s New Royal Baby Boy’s Name Has Just Been Announced
Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex announced their first child’s name on Wednesday, sharing the news that their son will be called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor following a photo call.
As for the new royal baby’s title, unlike Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — the children of William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — Harry and Meghan’s baby boy is not a prince. Unless Queen Elizabeth II issues a Letters Patent declaring otherwise (like she did for Will and Kate’s kids.)
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pleased to announce they have named their first born child: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor,” the couple’s official Instagram account captioned a shot of Meghan introducing Archie to the queen on Wednesday. “This afternoon Their Royal Highnesses introduced Her Majesty The Queen to her eighth great-grandchild at Windsor Castle. The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duchess’ mother were also present for this special occasion.”
The name Archie is certainly not a traditional choice for Harry and Meghan as it’s not the name of a past British monarch or even a past member of the British royal family. As of now, it’s unclear why Harry and Meghan chose the name Archie for their son.
Leading up to the name announcement, Ladbrokes odds had Alexander at 4/1, Spencer at 5/1, James at 6/1, Arthur at 7/1 and Theodore at 8/1.
Meghan gave birth to the baby boy, who weighs 7 pounds and 3 ounces, on Monday, the couple announced on their Instagram page. Prince Harry, speaking to cameras on the grounds of Windsor Castle on Monday, said “this little thing is absolutely to die for.”
Royals fans have been speculating over the new royal baby name since Kensington Palace announced that Markle was pregnant with the couple’s first child on Oct. 15. “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019,” the palace said in a statement.
Write to Megan McCluskey at [email protected]
What’s in a name? Well, in the case of Meghan and Harry, quite a lot. When the couple revealed (on Instagram, naturally) that their son is to be known as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor it was yet another step in a new direction for the modern royal couple.
There will, for the time being, be no “HRH” (His Royal Highness) and no honorary title attached to his name, even though Archie is entitled to use the Earl of Dumbarton, one of his father’s subsidiary titles. Says a palace aide, “While there are courtesy titles that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex could apply to their son, they have chosen not to give him ‘courtesy titles’ at this time.”
While this little boy, the new seventh in line to the throne and heir to the Dukedom of Sussex is, by his very birthright extraordinary, his parents want him to grow up experiencing an ordinary childhood and with the freedom to be a private citizen. Their decision that Archie should simply be known as Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor hints strongly at the future the couple plan for their son.
“The fact that they have chosen not to use a title suggests they want this baby to have a relatively ordinary life,” says royal historian Professor Kate Williams. “When Archie is older he will likely have to go out and get a job. He will be a minor royal and will have to be prepared for a life of work. If the Commonwealth becomes a smaller entity, there will be less work for the royals overseas.”
Sources close to Harry also believe the decision not to give Archie a title is because he wants to shield his son from the spotlight. Having grown up in the media limelight and experienced many of its downsides, Harry understandably wants to protect his family. It is, sources say, one of the reasons he and Meghan moved to the sanctuary that is Windsor.
However, despite his lack of title and the fact that there is very little chance he will ever be king, there’s no denying the cultural importance of the Sussex’s first born. “He is the Queen’s first biracial grandchild,” notes Professor Williams. “This is a historically important baby. He affects a multicultural bridge.”
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The new royal baby came into the world on Monday — and now, his name has been revealed. Introducing: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
After waiting for what felt like forever for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to break the news, the Duke and Duchess have officially announced the moniker for their first-born child via their Instagram.
Apart from the name Archie being adorable, the royal moniker is undoubtedly traditional. When Prince William and Kate Middleton selected names for their three children (Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, 12 months), the Duke and Duchess of Sussex likely considered naming their baby after different monarchs and family members that came before them.
WPA PoolGetty Images
Now that we know that Harry and Meghan have landed on Archie, we can better analyze the deeper meanings of the name:
Archie is a derivative of Archibald or Arthur, according to The Name Meaning. It means “truly brave,” Nameberry claims, and it’s an increasingly popular pick among new moms. Amy Poehler and Will Arnett also chose the name for their first son born in 2008.
It’s commonly associated with the red-headed comic book character (and Riverdale), but Meghan and Harry potentially drew on more regal connotations by going with a shortened form of Arthur. It’s reminiscent of the legendary King Arthur of Camelot, of course. Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Louis also have Arthur on their birth certificates as a middle name.
Harrison is technically new to the royal family tree, but it still incorporates tradition. The choice makes total sense considering that it means “son of Harry”, according to Ancestry. Royal fathers often pass on their names to their kids, but usually more literally. For example, Prince Harry’s full name is Henry Charles Albert David in honor of his dad, Charles Philip Arthur George, who of course has Philip in his name after Prince Philip.
Mountbatten-Windsor has functioned as the royal family’s surname since 1960 when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip combined their family names. Windsor dates back to 1917, when George V adopted it as the name of his “House” or dynasty as well as his last name. Prince Philip — who is originally from Greece — assumed the name of Philip Mountbatten when he became a naturalized British citizen in 1947.
“For the most part, members of the Royal Family who are entitled to the style and dignity of HRH Prince or Princess do not need a surname, but if at any time any of them do need a surname (such as upon marriage), that surname is Mountbatten-Windsor,” the official palace website states.
For everyday life, the child will most likely use the last name “Sussex” similar to how Prince George is known as “George Cambridge” at school.
Related Stories Kayla Keegan News and Entertainment Editor Kayla Keegan covers all things in the entertainment, pop culture, and celebrity space for Good Housekeeping. Caroline Picard Health Editor Caroline is the Health Editor at GoodHousekeeping.com covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news.
Why Don’t Royals Use a Last Name?
Following a big win in the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, or any other major sporting event, fans want to get their hands on championship merchandise as quickly as possible. To meet this demand and cash in on the wallet-loosening “We’re #1” euphoria, manufacturers and retailers produce and stock two sets of T-shirts, hats, and other merchandise that declare each team the champ.
On Super Bowl Sunday, that means apparel for the winner—either the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs—will quickly fill clothing racks and gets tossed to players on the field once the game concludes. But what happens to the losing team’s clothing? It’s destined for charity.
Good360, a charitable organization based in Alexandria, Virginia, handles excess consumer merchandise and distributes it to those in need overseas. The losing team’s apparel—usually shirts, hats, and sweatshirts—will be held in inventory locations across the U.S. Following the game, Good360 will be informed of exactly how much product is available and will then determine where the goods can best be of service.
Good360 chief marketing officer Shari Rudolph tells Mental Floss there’s no exact count just yet. But in the past, the merchandise has been plentiful. Based on strong sales after the Chicago Bears’s 2007 NFC Championship win, for example, Sports Authority printed more than 15,000 shirts proclaiming a Bears Super Bowl victory well before the game even started. And then the Colts beat the Bears, 29-17.
Good360 took over the NFL’s excess goods distribution in 2015. For almost two decades prior, an international humanitarian aid group called World Vision collected the unwanted items for MLB and NFL runners-up at its distribution center in Pittsburgh, then shipped them overseas to people living in disaster areas and impoverished nations. After losing Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, Arizona Cardinals gear was sent to children and families in El Salvador. In 2010, after the New Orleans Saints defeated Indianapolis, the Colts gear printed up for Super Bowl XLIV was sent to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
In 2011, after Pittsburgh lost to the Green Bay Packers, the Steelers Super Bowl apparel went to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania.
Fans of the Super Bowl team that comes up short can take heart: At least the spoils of losing will go to a worthy cause.
An earlier version of this story appeared in 2009. Additional reporting by Jake Rossen.
All images courtesy of World Vision, unless otherwise noted.
The Duchess of Sussex gave birth to her first child early Monday morning, and over the course of this week, Meghan and Harry have shared a few details about their son with the world.
Most notably, they revealed the youngster’s name—Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor—on Wednesday, after posing for a photocall in Windsor Castle.
The meanings behind little Archie’s first and middle names are fairly simple. A royal source reportedly shared with CNN that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose their son’s name because they “just liked the name Archie.”
A royal source explains Meghan and Harry’s name choice to @MaxFosterCNN: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex “just liked the name Archie,” and Harrison was chosen to mean “son of Harry” https://t.co/F2UE8QsHOI pic.twitter.com/6xpW5QJ2eG
— CNN (@CNN) May 8, 2019
And then, Harrison quite literally means son of Harry or Henry. But the baby’s surname, Mountbatten-Windsor, requires a bit more explanation.
Who gets to use the last name Mountbatten-Windsor?
Little Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor makes his public debut. WPA PoolGetty Images
According to the royal family’s website, when male or unmarried female descendants of Queen Elizabeth need to use a surname (which is what Americans would more often refer to as a last name), Mountbatten-Windsor is available to them.
“For the most part, members of the Royal Family who are entitled to the style and dignity of HRH Prince or Princess do not need a surname,” reads the site. “But if at any time any of them do need a surname (such as upon marriage), that surname is Mountbatten-Windsor.”
Given that Archie does not currently have a royal title, the use of Mountbatten-Windsor as a surname makes sense. Archie’s first cousins once removed, Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn, who are the children of Prince Edward, also use Mountbatten-Windsor as their surnames.
Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn both use the last name Mountbatten-Windsor. Here they are on the Buckingham Palace balcony with their parents, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Max Mumby/IndigoGetty Images
As naming traditions in the United Kingdom are patriarchal, Princess Anne’s children, Zara and Peter, used the surname of their father, Mark Phillips, growing up. Following her marriage to Mike Tindall, Zara eventually started to use Tindall as her surname. Peter and his wife and children use the last name Phillips, and Zara’s children use the last name Tindall.
Similarly, if Princess Eugenie has children with her husband Jack Brooksbank, their surname will almost certainly be Brooksbank, not Mountbatten-Windsor.
All that said, some royals choose to use the name of their Dukedom as a surname. For example, Prince George uses the last name Cambridge at school, as his father is the Duke of Cambridge. Little Archie could have used the surname Sussex, but for whatever reason Meghan and Harry opted against that. Growing up Prince William and Prince Harry used the surname Wales, since their father was the Prince of Wales.
Why do some people use the surname Windsor, without the Mountbatten?
Lord Frederick Windsor (seen here with his mother Princess Michael of Kent) is able to use the surname Windsor because he is a descendant of George V. David M. BenettGetty Images
The last name Windsor is available to be used by all male and unmarried female descendants of George V. That explains why Prince Michael of Kent’s children Ella and Freddie use the last name Windsor. (Prince Michael is the Queen’s first cousin, and a grandson of George V.)
“In 1960, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family (without changing the name of the Royal House), as Windsor is the surname used by all the male and unmarried female descendants of George V,” reads the royal family’s website.
The Privy Council then decided that the Queen’s direct descendants would use the last name Mountbatten-Windsor, so that’s when the split occurred.
Where does the name Mountbatten-Windsor come from?
Then-Princess Elizabeth poses with her future husband Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten and her sister Princess Margaret in Buckingham Palace in 1947. Keystone-FranceGetty Images
The original name of Windsor dynasty was the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but following World War I, Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather King George V was concerned about anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom. He changed the name to the House of Windsor, after Windsor Castle. In doing so, members of the royal family adopted Windsor as a surname as well.
The “Mountbatten” portion of Mountbatten Windsor comes from Prince Philip. Philip was a Prince of Greece and Denmark, but he gave up those titles when he became a naturalized British citizen in 1947, and took the surname Mountbatten, his mother’s family name. Phillip was quite close to the Mountbattens growing up, and even lived with them for a period of time.
Caroline Hallemann Senior Digital News Editor As the senior digital news editor for Town & Country, Caroline Hallemann covers everything from the British royal family to the latest episodes of Outlander, Killing Eve, and The Crown.
Does the Royal Family Have a Last Name?
Does the royal family have a last name? You’ve probably wondered about it when you hear about “Queen Elizabeth II” or “the Duke of Edinburgh” or Prince Harry. And it’s also perplexing that Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton still use their maiden names. (Unless it’s a feminist statement, in which case, we’re 100% on board!) But back to the point: Even though certain last names may indicate that you have royal blood, you never hear about traditional surnames used for members of the British royal family. What gives? Do they have a last name at all?
Read on to get all the answers as to whether the royal family uses last names.
Does the royal family have a last name?
The British royal family | Chris Jackson/Getty Images
We’ll start with the short answer. The royal family does have a last name: Mountbatten-Windsor. But as Time reports, they don’t usually use it. That’s because they’re so well-known that they don’t need a last name to be recognized. The royal family’s official website explains that “Members of the Royal Family can be known both by the name of the Royal house, and by a surname, which are not always the same. And often, they do not use a surname at all.”
In fact, the royal family didn’t have a last name — also known as a surname — until 1917. Before that year, members of the royal family only had the name of the house or dynasty to which they belonged. The house name still identified them. But it worked a little bit differently than your typical last name.
Where did the royal family’s last name come from?
Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, had the last name “Windsor” at birth. But where did she get that name? In 1917, her grandfather, King George V decided to switch his house name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. (He hoped to get ahead of any anti-German sentiments during the first World War.) The same year, he also designated Windsor as the royal family’s official surname. It marked the first time that the royal family officially had a last name.
Before 1917, the royal family just used their first names and then the name of the house or dynasty they belonged to. (E.g., Queen Victoria of the House of Hanover.) Plus, people typically referred to monarchs by the names of the countries they ruled. So kings and queens signed with their first names only. And that tradition continues in the United Kingdom.
Wait, what’s their house name? And what’s their surname?
If you’re confused, don’t worry. The royal family’s naming practices have gotten complicated. The royal family comes from the House of Windsor. And the queen confirmed the royal family name of Windsor after her accession to the throne in 1952. However, in 1960, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip decided that they wanted a name to distinguish their direct descendants from the rest of the royal family. But they didn’t want to change the name of the royal house.
Windsor is the surname used by all of the male and unmarried female descendants of King George V. But the Privy Council declared that all of the queen’s descendants would have the surname of “Mountbatten-Windsor.” But there were some important exceptions. Descendants who have the style of “Royal Highness,” those who get the title “Prince or Princess,” or female descendants who marry don’t use the last name.
Where does ‘Mountbatten’ come from?
“Mountbatten” came from Prince Philip | Chris Jackson/Getty Images
So where does the “Mountbatten” in “Mountbatten-Windsor” come from? Queen Elizabeth II added the hyphenate after her 1952 marriage to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, later Prince Philip. The last name for the royal family as a whole officially remains Windsor. But royals descended from Queen Elizabeth II through the male line use the hyphenated surname “Mountbatten-Windsor.”
The Express notes that initially, Elizabeth intended to keep her father’s last name. But Philip complained. “I am nothing but a bloody amoeba,” he protested. “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.” We can understand why he felt a little defensive. When he married Elizabeth, Philip had to renounce his Greek and Danish titles. He also had to drop his family name of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. So he adopted his mother’s surname, Mountbatten.
So which members of the royal family would use a last name?
Time reports that last names typically only get used by members of the royal family who don’t have a title. Newsweek explains that the only remaining royal family members who regularly use “Mountbatten-Windsor” are Prince Edward’s children, Louise and James, the queen’s grandchildren. But royals like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, for instance, as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, don’t need to worry about using a last name.
Of course, we can think of some practical reasons to use a last name. They come in handy at school or in the military. In that case, members of the royal family can use a last name derived from their family’s official title. Prince Harry and Prince William went by Harry Wales and William Wales at school and in the military. (Because Charles is the Prince of Wales.) And Prince George, meanwhile, uses the surname “Cambridge” at school. (Because Prince William is the Duke of Cambridge.)
What will change when Prince Charles becomes king?
Queen Elizabeth II won’t be around forever. So you might wonder: Will the royal family’s last name change when Prince Charles becomes king? In theory, no, according to Newsweek. “Unless the Prince of Wales determines to make further changes upon becoming king, he will continue to be the House of Windsor,” the publication notes. “His grandchildren will subsequently go by Mountbatten-Windsor.”
Speaking of grandchildren, any potential children born to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle won’t necessarily get the title of “Prince” or “Princess.” They would likely go by “Lord” or “Lady.” And they would use the last name Mountbatten-Windsor — at least when Queen Elizabeth II is still on the throne. When Prince Charles succeeds to the throne, that will make them the grandchildren of the monarch on the male side. So they could get an HRH if Harry or Meghan wanted them to receive the title. Of course, the queen could also make an exception for Harry’s children, as she did with William’s, who all already go by “Prince” or “Princess.”
Read more: Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Buckingham Palace
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