THE MOUNTBATTEN NAME
Mountbatten’s father - Prince Louis of Battenberg, later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (1854-1921) became more and more a target of 'anti-German hysteria' during World War I but despite his long and dedicated service in the British Royal Navy, his appointment as First Sea Lord was seen by the British public as one step too far and he was ultimately forced to resign. In his resignation letter Prince Louis said - "I have lately been driven to the painful conclusion that at this juncture, my birth and parentage have the effect of impairing in some respect my usefulness at the Board of Admiralty." When King George V (1865(1910-1936) read his cousin’s resignation letter he was clearly upset to read that the lineage of such a close relation and friend was in question, and that perhaps the same questions would be said about the Royal House itself, after all the King was himself a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (as a grandson of Prince Albert, The Prince Consort (1819-1861), the husband of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901).
The 1909 portrait of Prince Louis of Battenberg
(later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven)
by Philip de László
In April 1917, questions were publicly asked of The Rt Hon. David Lloyd George, later 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor (1863-1945) the then Prime Minister, at how he could serve a King and expect to defeat Germany when The King, The Queen and most of the British Royal Family were of German extraction. The King decided that to avert a crisis of confidence in the Monarchy itself, action should be taken and was finally convinced to abandon all titles held under the German Crown and to change German titles and House names to Anglicised versions. As a result, a proclamation (see below) was issued on 17th July 1917 by King George V (1864(1910-1936) stating the the Royal Family would be known as 'The House of Windsor' and declared that members of the Royal Family and extended family would cease to use their inherited German styles and titles.
ABOVE: A portrait of King George V
by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope
LEFT: The heraldic badge of 'The House of Windsor'
At the King’s request, in July 1917 Mountbatten’s father - Prince Louis renounced his title of a Prince of Battenberg and his style of Serene Highness for himself and his descendants and adopted the Anglicised version of Battenberg - 'Mountbatten' as his own family’s surname. On 7th November 1917, Mountbatten’s father was subsequently created Marquess of Milford Haven, Earl of Medina & Viscount Alderney within the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The new Marquess of Milford Haven was proud of his German princely title, status and name and saw his 'demotion' to being a Peer of the Realm as a "break with one’s past" and was more worried about the effect it would have on his children. He chose to break the news to his sons personally - Prince George (his eldest son) who was to be styled Earl of Medina was serving on HMS New Zealand, and Mountbatten who was to be styled Lord Louis Mountbatten (as a younger son of a Marquess) was serving on HMS Lion.
Mountbatten’s mother - Princess Victoria, who became 'The Marchioness of Milford Haven', who had been born a Princess in her own right, was unhappy at her own 'demotion' and was worried about the future of their Battenberg children loosing their own Princely status. She commented to Mrs Nona Kerr Crichton (1875-1960), her Lady-in-Waiting - "I shall quite understand if the Peerage takes it as no compliment, our being foisted into it - personally I say the honest truth in telling you I would prefer to be a 'citoyenne' and beholden to nobody, but we are the passing generation and must look ahead for the position of our descendants." However she was to comment later how her youngest son (Mountbatten) felt - "Dickie treated our change of names etc. as a huge joke and laughed uproariously… of course Dickie had to ask me hundreds of questions about Peers and their positions and families, and whether he and Louise could marry whoever they like without the King interfering and whether his sons would be plain Mr or Honourable".
Prince Louis of Battenberg
(later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven)
Lady Louise Mountbatten
(later Queen Louise of Sweden)
RIGHT: The Mountbatten/Battenberg family -
(back row, left to right)
Crown Prince Gustaf of Sweden
(later King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden);
Mountbatten; The 2nd Marquess
of Milford Haven (formerly
Prince George of Battenberg);
Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark;
(middle row, left to right)
Crown Princess Louise of Sweden
(formerly Lady Louise Mountbatten,
later Queen Louise of Sweden); Edwina;
'Nada', Marchioness of Milford Haven;
Princess Andrew of Greece & Denmark
(formerly Princess Alice of Battenberg);
(front row, centre) Victoria, Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven (formerly Princess Victoria of Hesse & By the Rhine,
later Princess Louis of Battenberg)
Mountbatten’s father wrote to his own daughter Princess Louise (Lady Louise Mountbatten) later Queen Louise of Sweden on 6th June 1917 - "my beloved Louise, I have very serious news of far-reaching effects on us all to tell you. George Rex telegraphed to me last week he wished to see me as soon as possible. I took the next steamer and was closeted with him for a long time. The upshot of a long statement about his being attacked as being half-German and surrounding himself by relatives with German names and that he must ask us Holsteins, Tecks and Battenbergs to give up using in England our German titles and to assume English surnames… It has been suggested that we should turn our name into English, viz: Battenhill or Mountbatten. We incline to the latter as a better sound… Of course we are at his mercy. We only are allowed to use our German title as the Sovereign has always recognised it, but he can refuse this recognition any moment. If so we are plain Mister, which would be impossible… For you, my dear children we feel deeply… It is a terrible upheaval and break with one’s past - another consequence of this awful war. Mama is splendid and is determined to give up her own title and rank which is quite her own and not due to marriage with me, and to call herself by my name and title only… Newspaper comment will be unpleasant, but unavoidable. Whether the republicans will be satisfied remains to be seen. I fear the Throne here is beginning to shake also… All this is terrible. I shall miss my old and laboriously write a new fancy name."
Cartoons satirising King George V following the change of the Royal House to 'Windsor' in 1917,
with (left) The King 'sweeping away' his family's German Princely styles and titles;
and (right) The King 'heralding' the birth of the new Royal House
It was not until Prince Philip of Greece & Denmark, later Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021) - Mountbatten’s nephew, applied to be a naturalised British subject in 1947, that the name of 'Mountbatten' came to prominence once again, prior to the announcement from Buckingham Palace on 9th July 1947 of his engagement to the Heiress Presumptive - Princess Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of King George VI (1895(1936-1952), who would later succeed as Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-2022). It was suggested to him by the then Home Secretary - The Rt Hon. Chuter Ede, later Lord Chuter-Ede (1882-1965) that his maternal family name of 'Mountbatten' be used as his own surname rather than an Anglicised version of his own paternal Greek and Danish family name upon his renouncing his own Royal titles. On 18th March 1947, the official simple announcement was made in the London Gazette confirming his new surname -
18th March 1947
Mountbatten, Philip; Greece; Serving Officer in His Majesty’s Forces, 16 Chester Street, London, SW1.
The originally Arms granted in 1947
to Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh
(formerly Prince Philip of Greece & Denmark)
showing the Arms of the Kingdoms of Greece
and Denmark, and the personal Arms of
Princess Alice, The Grand Duchess of Hesse
& By the Rhine (Prince Philip's great-grandmother)
As men are not permitted to bear the arms of their wife, the new Duke of Edinburgh was granted arms that represented his birth as a Prince of Greece and Denmark and as a great-grandson of Princess Alice, The Grand Duchess of Hesse & By the Rhine (1843-1878), the third child of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901). In 1949 these arms were deemed "unsuitable" and new arms were granted (shown right) to reflect and include his Mountbatten lineage. The blazon of Arms are - First Or, semée of hearts Gules, three lions passant in pale Azure (Denmark), Second Azure, a cross Argent (Greece), Third Argent, two pallets Sable (Mountbatten), Fourth Argent, upon a rock Proper a castle triple towered Sable, masoned Argent, windows, port, turret-caps and vanes Gules (Edinburgh).
Mountbatten's nephew subsequently became styled 'Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten' and with his marriage in November 1947 to Princess Elizabeth, it meant that the Mountbatten name has become forever linked to the Throne of the United Kingdom. On the morning of his marriage, Philip Mountbatten was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth & Baron Greenwich with the qualification of Royal Highness.
Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II
& Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh
(formerly Prince Philip of Greece & Denmark,
later Philip Mountbatten)
on their wedding day in November 1947
The full achievement of Arms of
Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh
granted in 1949 - which were used
until Prince Philip's death in 2021
Following the death in 1952 of King George VI (1895(1936-1952) in 1952, Mountbatten in his usual 'tour de force' began to openly brag that the ruling House was no longer 'Windsor' but that of 'Mountbatten'. Of course Mountbatten was wrong - but that never stopped his ego. A Queen Regnant remains a member of her father's dynastic genealogical 'house' (unless otherwise changed by a Royal Proclamation) - eg: Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) was the last Sovereign of the 'House of Hanover'. It was her son, King Edward VII (1841(1901-1910), who became the first Sovereign of the 'House of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha'. Apparently Mountbatten’s views were reported back to the aged Queen Mary (1867-1953), whose husband King George V (1865(1910-1936) had founded the House of Windsor in perpetuity in 1917.
Perhaps his ambitious aims of greatness were just pride, but some saw it power crazed - either way, it forced Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-2022) to seek advice from The Rt Hon. Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), the then Prime Minister, who had returned to office following the General Election in October 1951. In one of her first official announcements of the new Reign, the new Queen declared on 9th April 1952 her "Will and Pleasure that I and My children shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that my descendants who marry and their descendants, shall bear the name of Windsor". Mountbatten’s hopes that the reigning Royal House would bear his own family name had been thwarted. At the time, Philip would argue that he had given up his career, his religion, his nationality, his name etc... but he was the only man in the Kingdom, whose children could not bear his name and famously said "What kind of man am I? I'm just a bloody amoeba."
On 8th February 1960, The Queen so declared - "whereas on the 9th day of April 1952, I did declare in Council My Will and Pleasure that I and My children shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that My descendants, other than female descendants who marry and their descendants, shall bear the name of Windsor. And whereas I have given further consideration to the position of those of My descendants who will enjoy neither the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness, nor the titular dignity of Prince and for whom therefore a surname will be necessary. And whereas I have concluded that the Declaration made by Me on the 9th day of April 1952, should be varied in its application to such persons. Now therefore I declare My Will and Pleasure that, while I and My Children shall continue to be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, My descendants other than descendants enjoying the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess and female descendants who marry and their descendants shall bear the name of Mountbatten-Windsor."
Click HERE to see a Royal Family Tree which shows the descendants of Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021) and Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022).
Captain Mark Phillips
& Princess Anne,
later The Princess Royal
following their wedding
in November 1973
An extract from
the marriage certificate
of Captain Mark Phillips
& Princess Anne,
later The Princess Royal
giving her surname as
for the first time on a legal document
In 2003, following the birth of a daughter to Prince Edward, The Duke of Edinburgh (b.1964) it was announced that his children would neither use the title of a Prince/Princess or the style of Royal Highness which would be afforded to them under the terms of the Letters Patent issued by King George V (1865(1910-1936) in 1917. In addition, any child would use the courtesy titles granted to children of a non-Royal Earl (as Prince Edward was at that time styled 'The Earl of Wessex') and they would use the surname of ‘Mountbatten-Windsor’. His first child was subsequently named 'Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor' but is styled 'The Lady Louise Windsor'. His second child was born in 2007 and named 'James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor' and used from birth the courtesy title of 'Viscount Severn' and since 2023 is styled 'Earl of Wessex'
It should be noted that the Letters Patent of King George V (1865(1910-1936) have not been annulled, and no new Letters Patent were issued by either Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-2022) or by King Charles III (1948(2022- ) and that this withdrawal of their titles and style is a personal family wish. However, in 2020, The Duchess of Edinburgh said – “we try to bring them up with the understanding they are very likely to have to work for a living... Hence we made the decision not to use 'HRH' titles. They have them and can decide to use them from 18yrs, but I think it's highly unlikely.” Lady Louise became 18yrs old in 2021 and Lord Wessex becomes 18yrs old in 2025 - and so far, no announcement has been made... so we will just have to wait and see!!!
Prince Edward, The Duke of Edinburgh
(then The Earl of Wessex)
& Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones
following their wedding
at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
in June 1999
The Queen’s declaration in 1960 was made days prior to the birth of her third child (and second son) Prince Andrew, The Duke of York (b.1960) and despite making it clear that "My children shall continue to be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor" when Princess Anne, The Princess Royal (b.1950) married in 1973 to Captain Mark Phillips (b.1948) the surname of 'Mountbatten-Windsor' appeared for the first time as the Princess’ surname on the marriage certificate. Prince Andrew, The Duke of York (b.1960) and Prince Edward, The Duke of Edinburgh (b.1964) also used the surname on their marriage certificates at their respective weddings in 1986 and 1999. However, their eldest brother - King Charles III (1948(2022- ) never used this surname at either of his weddings in 1981 and 2005. It should be noted that Princes of the Blood Royal in the UK, with the style of Royal Highness do not officially use a surname so it has only been in modern times that the use of a surname has arisen.
The Duke & Duchess of Edinburgh
with their children -
(left to right) James, Earl of Wessex;
Prince Edward, The Duke of Edinburgh;
The Lady Louise Windsor;
& The Duchess of Edinburgh
In 2019, following the birth of a son to Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex (b.1984), it was announced that the child would be named simply ‘Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor’. In March 2021 (prior to the birth of her daughter), in a candid interview with the US TV celebrity Oprah Winfrey (b.1954), The Duchess of Sussex made numerous unsubstantiated comments stating that she had been told that her son's entitlement under the 1917 Letters Patent of King George V (1865(1910-1936) to become a Prince with the style of Royal Highness would cease and she alleged that her son was treated differently to other grandchildren of The King due to his bi-racial heritage. This courted a great deal of public controversy inferring that the Royal Family were racist. Perhaps??? The Duchess was 'confused' about the comments made by The King in the 1990s about his intention to 'streamline' the Royal Family upon his accession to the Throne to just the immediate heir and their children - which were on record long before The Duke of Sussex even met his wife. Or perhaps??? The Duchess was unaware of the Letters Patent issued by Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-2022) issued on 31st December 2012 stating that "all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour" - which only affected the children of Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge (b.1982), prior to being created Prince of Wales in 2022. Either way - these are in the public domain and not a secret.
An extract from the birth certificate of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, later Prince Archie of Sussex,
the son of The Duke & Duchess of Sussex
In 2021, a second child – Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana was born to The Duke & Duchess of Sussex. Like her elder brother, under the 1917 Letters Patent of King George V (1865(1910-1936), she was not born with Royal rank and at the specific request of their parents, neither she or her brother used (at the time) the courtesy titles traditionally granted to the issue of a Royal Duke and both children used the surname ‘Mountbatten-Windsor’. However, in March 2023, The Duke & Duchess of Sussex announced that their daughter had been christened at their home in Montecito, Santa Barbara, California, USA by The Rt Rev John H. Taylor (b.1954), The Bishop of Los Angeles, Episcopal Church of USA. In their official announcement, and for the first time since her birth, their daughter was described as a Princess. Soon after, Buckingham Palace changed their website to reflect that both children of The Duke & Duchess of Sussex were officially using their Princely titles. In the announcement from The Sussexes, it stated that - "any titles would be used in formal settings, but not in everyday conversations".
Princess Lilibet 'Lili' of Sussex