Royal Houses

Royal Houses

In common with other monarchies, the British Royal Family may be divided into houses or dynasties. Normally the male stock of one dynasty is given an all-embracing house name, such as the House of Stuart and House of Hanover. A difficulty arises with the Plantagenets, of which the first English sovereign was Henry II.

The early monarchs were known as Angevins, belonging to the House of Anjou. However, when Henry of Bolingbroke seized the crown from Richard II, he is often considered as the first of the House of Lancaster, although he was Richard’s first cousin of the same male line. Similarly, when Edward IV gained the crown from Henry VI, he is often considered to have founded the House of York.  

This situation also occurred in France with the House of Capet, descended from Hugh Capet who became king in 987. The Capets continued as rulers of France, with some interruptions, until Louis Philippe was dethroned in 1848. Even so, for convenience, the monarchs were divided into Houses such as Valois, Bourbon and Orleans. 

It is customary for the name of a Royal House to continue until the death of a Queen Regnant born into that Royal House. Thus, Queen Mary I, after her marriage to Philip of Spain, remained a member of the House of Tudor, Mary II and Queen Anne belonged to the House of Stuart, and Queen Victoria was the last of the House of Hanover. 

Image, top: Four kings of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha: Edward VII  (far right); his son George, Prince of Wales, later George V (far left); and grandsons Edward, later Edward VIII (rear); and Albert, later George VI (foreground), c. 1908

 

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