Happy 31st birthday to HRH Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Aide-de-camp to Her Majesty the Queen. In honor of his birthday I wanted to focus on The Duke of Cambridge and his genealogy.
I began to study a little more of the genealogy of the Duke of Cambridge and it brought up questions of ethnicity, nationality and I quickly realized how complex of a topic it really is!! In an article I wrote about changing the name of the House of Windsor, I touched upon the royal family’s Germanic roots. It is interesting to trace the nationality of the royal family through the decades from its origins as the Saxon Kingdom of the House of Wessex to today’s House of Windsor. Cerdic of Wessex, the first king of Wessex, reign circa 519-534, was of Germanic origins. The reason that the first king of Wessex was an ethnic German was due to the fact that many Germanic tribes invaded England after the fall of the Roman empire which succeeded in supplanting the native Celtic tribes.
The House of Wessex consolidated its kingdom and became the dominant power in England. However, within 500 years the House of Wessex was replaced by the French line of the Dukes of Normandy in the person of William I the Conqueror 1066-1087. William I of England was not from French stock but was from Norwegian stock as a descendant of Eystein Glumra, Jarl (Earl) of Oppland and Hedmark in Norway. The Plantagenets followed the Normans on the English throne and they were from the House of Anjou, a French noble house descended from Ingelger, Count of Anjou (died 888) . During their long tenure on the English throne the Plantagenet dynasty divided into two collateral branches, the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The Plantagenet dynasty was replaced by the Tudors in 1485 and they were of Welsh nationality and Stock. In 1603 the royal Stuart line from Scotland sat on the English throne. The Stuarts were not originally Scottish as they were descendants of Alan fitz Flaad a man who was a Breton, an ethnic group located in the region of Brittany in France.
The Hanovarians followed the Stuarts on the British throne in 1714. The House of Hanover was a branch of the House of Guelph in Germany which itself was a collateral branch of the House of Este which were descendants of the Roman/Italian Attii family that migrated from Rome to Este and assisted in defending Italy against the Goths. The Family of Elizabeth II, the Wettins, was also from Germany with Dietrich (ca. 916-ca. 976), also known as Thierry I of Liesgau, being the earliest family member that historians can validate. The Wettin family, in the form of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha came to the British throne under King Edward VII, whose father, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, was a member of. In 1917 the Saxe-Coburg dynasty changed its name to Windsor because of social and political pressure during World War I. The Duke of Cambridge, as a grandson of the Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Britain’s current monarch, Elizabeth II, is from the House of Glücksburg, which is a collateral branch of the House of Oldenburg. The House of Oldenburg was also Germanic in origin with Elimar I, Count of Oldenburg 1101-1108 the founder of the line. The Oldenburg dynasty spread across Europe and ruled Denmark, Norway, Greece, Sweden and Russia at different times in history.
This shows that in the male or paternal line the genealogy of the Duke of Cambridge is of a diverse stock. On his mother’s side, the Duke of Cambridge is related to both the Spencer family as well as the Churchill family and other prominent noble families of Britain. The Duke of Cambridge is also a descendant of King Charles II of England and Scotland through two of the king’s mistresses, Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine and Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth. This makes the future King William V of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of having the distinction of being the only British king who will be a descendant of King Charles I, King Charles II and King Charles III (assuming his father lives to succeed to the throne).
With King George VI having married the daughter of a Scottish Nobleman and the Prince of Wales having married the daughter of an English Nobleman, and with The Duke of Cambridge himself marrying an English woman, the future nationality of the British Royal family is moving away from the foreign dynasties that once sat on the British throne to become more native.