The Royal House of Windsor on Netflix not only traces the royal family from Queen Victoria to Kate Middleton, but it gives fans of another Netflix series, The Crown, a valuable British history lesson tracing the House of Windsor. The documentary, expertly voiced-over by Gwilym Lee (best known as DS Charlie Nelson from Midsomer Murders), traces the evolution of the Windsor family, whose name was changed from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor to make it sound more British and, more importantly, less German.
One of the most illuminating histories covered in Netflix The Crown, but covered even more thoroughly in The Royal House of Windsor, was the story of the first Duke and Duchess of Windsor, King Edward VIII, and his wife, Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American from Baltimore, Maryland. While The Crown showed the negative after-effects of the abdication of King Edward VIII, the former Prince of Wales, The Royal House of Windsor takes the point of view of the event.
The Royal House of Windsor alleges that King Edward VIII actually did the British people a favor, as WWII could have turned out very differently for the U.K. if King Edward VIII, a fascist and German sympathizer, had been on the throne instead of his brother, King George VI. For this reason, some of the experts on The Royal House of Windsor believe that the British public should be grateful to Wallis Simpson.
The Royal House of Windsor explains that the name Windsor was created during the reign of George V, but Queen Victoria is thought to be the mother of the House of Windsor. Part of the series examines the weddings of the House of Windsor, from Queen Victoria, who was said to have made a white wedding dress the color that exists through today for many western brides, to the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.
However, a large part of The Royal House of Windsor is about how the name Windsor came into being. When it was determined that the royal family of Great Britain was going to make a conscious move away from Germany, it was obvious that the family name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha wasn’t going to work, and so a new name had to be chosen.
Several names were bandied about, including Tudor, Stuart, and Plantagenet. Tudor was the best-known name, but the link with Henry VIII and all of his wives made it a non-starter. Windsor was the name of the beloved castle and gardens, and the name Windsor sounded English, and so Windsor it became.
With all the talk of names, last names, and the names of dynasties and royal families, a segment of The Royal House of Windsor focused on Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth. Prince Philip was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Prince Philip’s mother was a Battenberg, which was Anglicized to Mountbatten by Prince Philip’s uncle Louis Mountbatten. When Prince Philip started school in the U.K., he assumed the name Mountbatten.
However, when Prince Philip married then Princess Elizabeth, he assumed she would take his name and that their children also would be known as Mountbatten, but he was mistaken. Guided by his uncle, Louis Mountbatten, Prince Philip believed the royal family should become the House of Mountbatten, and that was the argument Prince Philip wanted Queen Elizabeth to make to parliament and to the prime minister. Prince Philip complained that he was the only man in England whose children don’t have their father’s name.
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Finally, a compromise was made in 1960, according to The Royal House of Windsor.
“The Queen declared that while the Royal Family would continue to be known as the House of Windsor, descendants without the style of HRH and the title of Prince or Princess would bear the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.”
Have you watched The Royal House of Windsor on Netflix? Did it give you more background to watch The Crown on Netflix?
[Featured Image by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]