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The House of Windsor. A stable monarchy, world wars and technological advances.

The House of Windsor 1910 +

Find out more about The House of Windsor, the modern history of Britain by using a combination of the timeline and synopsis below as well as our posts. Find new intriguing connections using our themed history pages. Explore the world of science, the arts, church, government or law. Discover more about the the history of Britain's most recent events.

YearEventNarrative
1910Constitution of the Union of South AfricaThe Union was enacted by the British Parliament
1910 May 6thEdward VII died at Buckingham Palace
1911First movie filmsD.W Griffith was the first film director to demonstrate the possibilities of the film, silent until the 1920's
1911Coronation of King George V
1912King George V Emperor of IndiaKing George V was crowned Emperor of India at Delhi.
1912Maiden voyage of the TitanicThe Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg with the loss of 1513 people.
1912Scott Antarctic ExpeditionScott heroically arrived at the South Pole only to find the Norwegian Amundsen had beaten him to it. The party perished on the return journey.
1912Death of William BoothWilliam Booth founder of the Salvation Army
1913Mounting tension between Britain and GermanyKing George V paid a visit to his cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II with a view to being a peacemaker.
1913Charlie Chaplin began to appear in films
1914Irish Home RuleThe British Liberal government introduced a Home Rule Bill to give limited self government to the whole of Ireland.
1914Emmeline Pankhurst imprisonedPankhurst was repeatedly arrested. She went on hunger strike each time was released when her life was endangered and then re-arrested.
1914Opening of the Panama Canal
1914Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand at SarajevoAssassination of Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajevo was the trigger for WWI although the causes were complex.
1914Outbreak of WWIOn 2nd August when Germany was already at war with Russia, Belgium rejected Germany's demand of right of passage for the German armies invading France and appealed to Britain to assist her in defending her neutrality. Britain demanded Germany recognize that neutrality. Germany responded by invading Belgium and Britain entered the war.
1914Kitchener appointed Secretary of State for WarKitchener immediately called for 100,000 volunteers.
1914-1918WWI World War 1 1914-1918
1915Dardanelles Campaign
1916Battle of JutlandThe only occasion on which the grand fleets of Britain and Germany encountered one another.
1916Food rationing introduced
1917Trench warfare on the western front
1918Allied advanceThe attack by the British and the French began in August and was the beginning of the end of the war.
1918German surrender
1918Women get the vote6 million women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote and to be members of parliament.
1919Treaty of VersaillesThe allied leaders drew up the trety with Germany but also attempted to establish an international body to prevent future wars.
1919First woman MPLady Astor was elected to Parliament for a Plymouth constituency.
1919Italian Fascist Movement foundedItalian Fascist Movement founded by Benito Mussolini
1920Construction of the Cenotaph in stoneThe original cenotaph was built in wood to the design of Sir Edward Lutyens.
1920Unknown WarriorUnidentified by name or rank his remains were taken from a grave in France and buried in Westminster Abbey on Armistice day.
1922First wireless broadcasts
1923Marriage of the Duke of York to Lady Elizabeth Bowes - LyonThe Duke of York will become King after the abdication of his brother.
1923Rise of NazismThe Nazi party began in Munich as a small group which crystallized out of the political upheavals following WWI.
1924First Labour governmentRamsay McDonald formed the first Labour government 32 years after Keir Hardie entered parliament as the first Labour member.
1925Empire exhibitionHeld at Wembley all aspects of life, culture and trade from all over the British Empire were on display.
1925Locarno PactA series of international agreements heralded it was hoped, a new peace in Europe.
1926General strikeSee Timeline 20th century
1926Birth of Princess Elizabeth
1927First solo Transatlantic flightCharles Lindbergh took off in his aeroplane, 'the spirit of St Louis' and landed at Le Bourget airfield outside Paris.
1928Campbell sets land speed record.
1929Stalin consolidated his power
1933New docks at Southampton
1933Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany
1935King George V Silver Jubilee
1935Malcolm Campbell set a new land speed recordDriving his famous 'Bluebird' Campbell set a new land speed record of 301 miles per hour.
1935Death of King George V
1936King George V died 20th Jan 1936 at Sandringham.
1936Edward Abdication to Duke of Windsor
1936German troops occupy the demilitarized RhinelandGerman troops occupy the demilitarized Rhineland thus taking the first step to defy the Versailles Treaty and the Locarno Pact.
1936Abdication of King Edward VIIIKing Edward created a constitutional crisis by his determination to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson. His brother the Duke of York became King.
1936The ship the Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage
1936Destruction of the Crystal Palace.
1936 (not crowned)Edward VIIIWindsor
1936-1952George VIWindsor
1937Coronation of King George VI
1939-1945WW2 WWII World War 2 1939-1945Windsor
1947Princess Elizabeth married Philip Duke of Edinburgh
1952 - presentElizabeth II ascends to the throne on her father's death.Windsor
1953Coronation of Elizabeth II
1937Spanish Civil WarAn out of control left wing government had been elected. Mob rule prevailed as President Zamora lost control. This allowed an ultra right extremist group led by General Franco . Italy and Germany provided him with arms and a bitter civil war took place.
1938Hitler absorbed Austria into Germany. The Munich Agreement.Hitler now went after Czechoslovakia. To appease Hitler, France and Britain and Italy gave the whole of Sudetenland to Germany. Hitler readied himself to take the rump of Czechoslovakia.
1939Russo - German PactThe signing of this made war a certainty. A tug of war began over Poland.
1939Germany invaded PolandGermany invaded Poland on the 1st Sep and when the British and French ultimatums expired on the 3rd Britain went to war with Germany once again.
1940Hitler invaded Norway and Denmark and then Holland, Belgium and France.The phoney war came to an end
1940Winston Churchill became Prime MinisterConfidence in the Chamberlain government was badly shaken by the German invasion of Norway. Churchill formed a coalition government.
1940Dunkirk
1940Battle of Britain
1941Hitler invaded Russia
1941Pearl Harbour
1942Fall of SingaporeImmediately after Pearl Harbour Japan launched simultaneous attacks against the Philippines and Malaya. The US troops finally surrendered on the 6th May. The British was forced to give up position after position until they were left hanging onto Singapore Island. The Japanese attacked again and the British surrendered.
1942Battle of StalingradA bitter, prolonged and bloody battle. The German front eventually collapsed.
1942 - 1943Victory in Africa
1944Fall of Rome
1944D-Day
1945Capture of Berlin
1945Victory in Europe
1946United Nations
1946Bread rationing in BritainBread rationing continued until 1948
1946Bikini atom bomb tests
1947Britain's coal nationalized
1947Indian independenceThe Indian Empire came to an end with the formal transfer of power by Britain to the two new Dominions of India and Pakistan.
1947Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten
1948The Marshall PlanGeorge Marshall, the US Secretary of State urged European nations to unite in planning their economic recovery.
1948Berlin airlift
1948Death of Mahatma Ghandi
1948National Health Service founded
1949End of sweet rationing
1950Korean War
1950Opening of the New House of Commons
House of Windsor 1910 onwards

Edward VII George V Edward VIII 3 generations“Time past and time future what might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present.”

T.S. Eliot, Poet from Four Quartets written largely during WW2 .

 

And yet when we look back and beyond those monumentally difficult first 45 years of the century there is so much more, much of which was good and to be enjoyed perhaps signaled as much by the crowning of a new queen with an auspicious name, our second Queen Elizabeth.

Again the line of succession changed direction on the whim of a king and what a burden was transferred at that point in 1936 to the Queen's father (George VI, Bertie) and then all to soon to herself. Here we are focused on the time from when George V, again not born to be King would outlive his brother and inherit his father, Edward VII's crown. You might also like to look at the 20th Century overall touching the Victorian, Edwardian and Windsor periods but here we will focus on the House of Windsor, once Saxe Cobergs and what a timely and well-judged change of name.

House Windsor's Kings and Queens

 

The Prelude to a different King's Speech 'Meet my Son the Last King.'

In 1910 when Edward VII introduced his own 'Prince of Wales' to the Foreign Secretary of the day, he introduced him as the "Last King of England." Edward VII was very troubled by the current fallout in Parliament as a battle raged when Lloyd George and Winston Churchill were seeking the adoption of the "People's Budget."

Edward VII George V Edward VIII 3 generations

Three Kings, only two would be crowned Edward VIII, in the centre with his son George V to his left and Edward VIII to his right. He had once said 'My son will be King but not my Grandson." Technically he was correct f for different reasons.

Ultimately they would be defeated by our parliamentary would be strengthened by it and a process would start to mature that started some 800 years previously with Magna Carta and the start of a parliament and 'no tax without representation that dated back to the first steps by Simon de Montfort during the reign of Edward II.

It had provoked a constitutional crisis over the debacle created, when the Lords could exert a right of veto over legislation which had already been approved in the House of Commons. He need not have feared by 1911 the Parliament Act would be introduced and this would usher in a new House with a new name and just the right measure of continuity.

King George V Coronation 1910

George V becomes the first King o adopt the name Windsor dropping he name style Saxe Coburg

Unfortunately equality for the working man and even less the working woman was not so processing on the political agenda. However the Germanic associations of the Royal family's name was. Saxe-Coburg would be diplomatically and quite sensibly quickly dropped by the new king.

Kaiser and King George V before WW1 in German Uniforms

King George V with the Kaiser before WW1 in German Uniforms in Germany, the ties were uncomfortably close

 

With Windsor Castle and the close associations with Kings of England going back centuries what could be more English? King George V had come to the throne in a gathering storm that would lead to the first of two world wars in just one century. The 20th Century would would twice threaten and challenge Britain to respond and recover from the horrors of these wars and arguably we have been fighting our way back economically ever since.

George V would hold the fort and work with his government to somehow come through the trails and tribulations of WW1 with the heavy price in British and Colonial lives as well as wealth and resources expended. It was supposed to be the 'War to end all Wars" but we all know that sadly that was certainly not what would happen.

Period between the wars were difficult and challenging times

The House of Windsor would have to shoulder more than their share of holding the Monarchy and country steady during these dark and turbulent times but few would have imagined after WW1 there was worse ahead but there was. With the advancement of mechanised warfare, engineering and science the machinery of war was advancing and in the firmament that was Europe, a far worse storm was gathering force. But whilst we waited and King George V had died, there was another difficult challenge ahead for the House of Windsor. Queen Mary after the King's death would have her own crisis to deal with as the unthinkable happened and her son rather than having a discrete and manageable affair decided he could not live without his Mrs Simpson. The problem was he had already been proclaimed King. Whilst this can all seem so far into the distant past, it remains relatively raw and recent in historical terms. This is a family still holding the crown, the King who had to stand-in was our Queen's father and the King to abdicate was her own Uncle. It is widely held that the Queen Mother (King George VI's wife never forgave the Duke of Windsor) as it caused so much grief and such an enlarged burden to be endured by her husband but to consider this period of royal history too close-up can feel like voyeurism. But the issues that surround and connect with  the Edward VIII (David to his family) abdication of of course inextricably entwined with the affairs of state and the nation. In this period a huge amount transpires and the consequence of the change of King was far from trivial.

Difficult Transitions Abdication By Edward VIII King for 10 Months in 1936

The challenges of a divided family are hard enough in any ordinary life but when that family is also Royal, then the consequences are even more profound and impact on a nation , government and its people too.

Queen Mary and Princess Margaret at Duke of Kents WeddingWhen the Prince brought up to be King determines to abdicate and leave his brother to the throne so he can marry "the woman I Love" his mother and the government could not have imagined what would have transpired some 79 years later.

King George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother gave Britain a 2nd Great Elizabethan Age.

 

It was a moment with unintended consequences which would change the direction of the throne, certainly it did increase the burden on his brother's shoulders but would ultimately give Britain a special gift, a 2nd 'Queen Elizabeth.' If she was anything like as strong and courageous as the first, then despite a 1,000 years of predominantly male heirs ascending to the throne, Britain would be able to count itself quite fortunate. Certainly  we seem to have been the winners.

 

But the path has not always been smoothe or easy and has taken its own toll on the Monarchy as post-Abdication we see that the Duke of Windsor would soon be followed by Princes and Princesses who would struggle to hold their own marriages together, get divorced remarry and in some circumstances have a particularly difficult falling out. Did the country ask too much of any person to forsake all others, to prefer a court that sill hid behind a facade of perfection in their domestic lives rather than face the simple human truth, 'we are all human?  Sociologists tell us that we get the Society we deserve the sum of us all, the collective being or community, is the same true of our Monarchy? Windsor Castle an aerial view

Its certainly coming full circle, but it is just too soon and too personal to focus on the current folks who must work their way through the tangled issues they have to overcome. But some thing's seem certain, he will not be a Stuart but their will be a future King Charles on the throne, he should be followed by a William , a name that has quite frequently occupied the same seat and the House of Windsor will have come full circle, most likely not in my lifetime. The young Prince George is set in line to honour the Queen's father and Grandfather by continuing the line of Georges not only from this house but back to the period of their namesake and should have all's well a sibbling sometime soon. Respecting the family matters as much as possible our House of Windsor will focus on where the official work of the family is focused in the history of the 20th Century. The 21st is probably best left for another generation to make it happen first and only comment in detail with some decent depth of time and hindsight.