Born of war, King George V created the House of Windsor in 1917, changing the family name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to distance the British Royal Family from its German roots. Four monarchs have ruled under this name and many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren count themselves as members. The current head, Queen Elizabeth II, is the longest living monarch in British history at 88 years and counting. So what other interesting facts exist about Britain’s leading family? What mysteries lurk in the depths of Windsor Castle?
Windsors Never Say Die
Individual monarchs may die, but the British Sovereign never does. The way succession works, when one monarch passes away, the next person in line succeeds immediately. As such, the Royal Standard never flies at half-mast following the monarch’s death.
Queen Elizabeth II is the first monarch to celebrate a diamond wedding anniversary (60 years). She and Prince Phillip were married on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. On the marriage, King George VI styled Phillip “Duke of Edinburgh”.
King George V may have seemed like a stiff and domineering person as played by Michael Gambon in “The King’s Speech”, but he has his wild side too. Namely, he had large red-and-blue dragon tattoo on his right arm.
You’ve Got Mail
The Queen was the first head of state to send an email, all the way back in 1976. She did it as part of a network technology demonstration at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. She used ARPANET to send the message, which was a precursor to the modern internet.
A Grand Education
Prince Charles was actually the first the royal to graduate from university, earning a 2:2 (second-class honours, lower division) at Cambridge. Of course, you’re born into the “family firm” as King George VI called the monarchy, a diploma isn’t exactly required. The Prince’s curriculum was supposedly specially designed for him. He’s not the smartest royal, however, as his son, Prince William, earned a 2.1 (second-class honours, upper division) from the University of St. Andrews.
Always the Prince of Wales, Never the Monarch
Prince Charles is the longest heir-apparent at 61 years and counting. Monarchs, when crowned, are permitted to choose their reigning name, much as King George VI did (his birth name was Albert). It is thought that Charles might opt for a different reigning name, possibly becoming King George VII, considering that Charles I and Charles II didn’t have the greatest reputations.
No Official Documents
Queen Elizabeth II does not have her own passport or her own driver’s license. Of course, who’s going to tell her she shouldn’t drive at her age?
Representing Team GB (In Sport)
Prince Charles’ sister, Princess Anne was a championship equestrian, even participating in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Her daughter, Zara Phillips, was also a member of the British Olympic team, winning the Silver Medal in Eventing. Princess Anne presented her daughter with the medal.
Serious Dog Lover
It’s no secret that the Queen loves her pet corgis. She has owned more than 30 since her succession and even created the dorgi (a corgi-dachshund cross-breed). One time, a footman put whiskey in the corgis’ water bowls and, as a result, had his salary cut and received a demotion.
We are Very Amused
What is one thing guaranteed to make Queen Elizabeth II laugh? According to Prince William, it is Ali G impressions. “Is it cos I is royal?”
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