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House of Windsor
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House of WindsorWhen Queen Victoria died in 1901, she left three generations of heirs. They, it was expected, would reign as monarchs of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In fact, the name survived only 16 years. In 1917, King George V announced that the name was no more. The rising horrors of the First World War had filled a reservoir of anti-German feeling, and the royal family's German name was no longer politically correct. Henceforth the House of Windsor would reign.

The Windsor dynasty survived three turbulent decades spanning the Great War, Communist revolution, the Wall Street Crash, the Depression and the rise of fascism. It was shaken by the abdication crisis of 1936, after which the title Duke of Windsor was created for the former king, Edward VIII. His brother, King George VI, unexpectedly thrust onto the throne, proved equal to a task made more onerous by the perils of the Second World War.

Following the period of post-war austerity, the accession of George VI's daughter Elizabeth II in 1952 was greeted with enthusiasm. Yet this was to be no new romantic Elizabethan age. An era of questioning, intrusive mass media exposed the monarchy to scrutiny unthinkable in earlier generations. Under this spotlight, in a changing Britain, the monarchy continues to evolve within the society it represents - something it has achieved successfully for over a thousand years.

House of Windsor

Thanksgiving in 1935
The Royal Family enter St Paul's Cathedral for the Silver Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving, 1935. Left to right are the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret with the Duke and Duchess of York; the Prince of Wales; George V and Queen Mary.

House of Windsor

Royal centrepiece
Buckingham Palace is the focus for royal public appearances, as well as for ceremonies, banquets, receptions and investitures. The first sovereign to live here was Queen Victoria, for whose growing family the East Front (now photographed by myriads of tourists) was added between 1847-53.

House of Windsor

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