Most are known by their first and last names with the exception of celebrities like the Chers and the Madonnas of the world. But it’s not just pop stars who go by just one name. High ranking royalty don’t need to be burdened with using their last name regularly either. With the whole world watching, reading and celebrating Prince William, the question popped into my head, what is Prince William’s last name? Do you know? And did you know it isn’t actually his family’s REAL last name/s?
Prince William’s full name is William Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor. And he has a hyphenated last name, Mountbatten-Windsor. Why the hyphenation? Prince William’s grandfather’s name is Prince Philip Mountbatten. In 1960, the Queen made a decree that all of her kids and grandkids would go by the hyphenated name of Mountbatten-Windsor, a combination of her maiden and married names. She apparently did this to honor her husband so that their children could carry on his name….but that’s not really true, since it’s not really his name (but we’ll get to that later).
So, it is true, both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s families played fast and loose with the rules of carrying on ancestral family names.
Queen Elizabeth Windsor’s family name was actually Saxe-Coburg-Gotha but that was changed in 1917 during World War I by King George V because at the time names that sounded German were really unpopular, for good reason. Of note – during World War 1 there was an aircraft capable of crossing the English Channel and would bomb London, the aircraft’s name? Gortha. The name of the royal family. This is what reportedly what really prompted the change.
As for Prince Philip (who goes by Mountbatten now), when he was born in 1921, his name was actually Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, no last name needed for him since he was royalty. But he does actually have a family name. And it’s a doozy. It’s Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg. So how did he get the name Mountbatten? When Prince Philip asked George VI for Princess Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, Princess Elizabeth’s dad said yes, but had some pretty big conditions. He had to renounce his Greek Orthodox religion and join the Church of England. He had to renounce all his allegiances to the Greek crown and switch allegiance to the crown of England. And to become a naturalized citizen of England he had to give up not just his title but his family’s name. When he was filling out his application for becoming a citizen in the United Kingdom he had to put down something for his last name…he opted for Mountbatten, his maternal uncle’s name.
Not many families change their names these days. In the states it did seem more commonplace in the era of Ellis Island, immigrants coming to America and making name changes for their new life. But most hold onto to their ancestral family names, its one thing that is consistently passed down from generation to generation. And with a family with such history, it’s surprising that the royals would have ever changed their names at all. When Kate Middleton – Kate Mountbatten-Windsor that is – and Prince William have their children, their kids won’t have the real family name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha/ Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, but rather an adopted moniker. But really, Mountbatten-Windsor has a much better ring to it.
How do you feel about people changing their family’s name? Is it confusing for the rest of the family and the kids? Or is a name, just a name?