What surname do the British royal family use?
This has been a huge controversy on a few occasions in the past. It was brought to a head again in 1952 when the new Queen Elizabeth II was advised by her private secretary and the prime minister (Winston Churchill) to retain the name the family had been using since the First World War, , that of Windsor.
This was a problem for Prince Philip. His family name was Mountbatten and he was heard to remark that he was the only man in the country whose children wouldn’t bear his surname.
The queen, according to one of her friends, said at the time that she would have liked to combine the two names and that their children should be Mountbatten-Windsor, but she was persuaded otherwise.
Why did this issue raise its head? It was all due to Philip’s ambitious uncle, Louis Mountbatten, who had been overheard to say at a private social function that the royal family was now the ‘House of Mountbatten’. This was reported back to the then matriarch of the royal family, Queen Mary.
In a game of he-said-she-said, she reported this to the prime minister’s private secretary who informed his boss. Duly, this was a matter brought up in parliament. As a group, they decided on Windsor and Churchill relayed this information to the queen.Philip was not happy. He had no particular fondness for the name itself – it was an Anglicised version of Battenburg- but he would have liked his children to bear his name. Most men would probably feel the same.
He quoted a precedence – when Queen Victoria (from the House of Hanover) had married Albert, their children had taken his name – Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It was only in the First World War that King George V had changed it to Windsor, because of the anti-German sentiment. It was all very confusing.
Exactly ten years later, Churchill had stepped down from the role of prime minister. The queen’s private secretary had also retired. As the two people who had strongly objected to combining the names were no longer an issue, the queen issued a new declaration.
While I and my children will continue to be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, my descendants,other than descendants enjoying the style,title or attributes of Royal Highness and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess, and female descendants who marry and their descendants, shall bear the name Mountbatten-Windsor.
A happy compromise.