I have been asked many times over the years; “but isn’t your Queen Elizabeth German?”
The simple answer is an unequivocal ‘no’. She was born at her maternal grandparent’s London home at 17 Bruton Street, to parents who were both born in Britain.
That’s not to say that HM The Queen does not have German ancestry and in this blog I will explain how her German predesessor George Louis, Elector of Hanover, became King George I of England.
To find the answer we must go to the 1701 Act of Settlement, which was enacted during the reign of Queen Anne. The Parliament of England was keen that should Queen Anne die without an heir, the Crown would pass to a Protestant successor and the issue was brought into sharp focus when Queen Anne’s only surviving child the Duke of Gloucester died at the age of 11 in 1700. The next in line to the throne was Queen Anne’s 12-year-old Catholic half brother, James Francis Stuart.
Therefore, to preserve the provision in The Bill of Rights that no Catholic, or a person with a Catholic spouse could become the monarch, the 1701 Act of Settlement was brought into being. Written into the Act was a clause that stated, should Queen Anne or King William the widower of Queen Mary die without issue the crown would fall to the German Protestant, Sophia of Hanover who was the granddaughter of King James I through her mother Princess Elizabeth.
However in June 1714 Sophia of Hanover died aged 83, and Queen Anne closely followed her in August of the same year. It was these two deaths that lead to Sophia’s son, George Louis becoming King George I of Great Britain and Ireland.
On the death of his father, The Prince of Wales, born in Hanover on 10 November 1683 became King George II. When King George II died on 25 October 1760, his grandson King George III succeeded him.
King George III was proud that he was the first of the Hanoverian Georges to be born in Britain and every regnant monarch since has been born and educated in Britain.
George I, George II and George III
The last of HM The Queen’s ancestors to be born in Germany was His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg-Gotha in 1840. He married his cousin Queen Victoria on 10 February 1840 and they went on to have nine children – once again all born in Britain.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s son and heir King Edward VII, took on Prince Albert’s last name in 1901. However, during World War I, King George V started using Windsor as a surname in order to appease people who thought the original name too Germanic.
In conclusion for those who say Queen Elizabeth II is German, I think that after 279 years of unbroken regnant monarchs born in Britain, it is fair to say that HM The Queen is undoubtedly British. She has reigned impeccably for 65 years and I fail to see how she could actually be any more British.
All pictures Wikicommons