Mountbatten is the family name originally adopted by a branch of the Battenberg family during World War I because of rising anti-German sentiment among the British public. On 14 July 1917, Prince Louis of Battenberg assumed the surname Mountbatten (having rejected an alternative translation, "Battenhill") for himself and his descendants and was created Marquess of Milford Haven. The name is an Anglicisation of the German Battenberg, a small town in Hesse. The title of count of Battenberg, later prince of Battenberg, was granted to a morganatic branch of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt in the mid 19th century.
Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, the consort of Queen Elizabeth II, adopted the surname of Mountbatten from his mother's family in 1947, although he is a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg by patrilineal descent.
Current holder of the marquessate
The current head of the Mountbatten family is the great-grandson of Prince Louis I, George Mountbatten, 4th Marquess of Milford Haven, who was born in London on 6 June 1961. He has a son named Henry, born in 1991.
The best-known of Prince Louis I's descendants were his youngest son, Admiral Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and the former's grandson, son of Louis's daughter Princess Alice of Battenberg: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who is now husband of Queen Elizabeth II. Another daughter to Louis I, sister to Princess Alice and to the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and aunt to the Duke of Edinburgh, was Queen Louise of Sweden.
Prior to his marriage in 1882, Prince Louis I had an affair with the actress Lillie Langtry. According to his son, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Louis was the father of Langtry's only child, Jeanne Marie Langtry, born some months later. However, other sources indicate another putative father.
The Royal Mountbattens
In 1952, on the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, there was some dispute regarding the dynasty to which descendants of Elizabeth and Phillip would belong. Queen Mary (the new Queen's grandmother) expressed her aversion to the idea of the House of Mountbatten succeeding the House of Windsor as the royal dynasty to Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Queen Mary's objection was partly based on the fact that Prince Philip was in fact a Prince of Greece and Denmark by birth, the son of Prince Andrew of Greece, and only descended from the Battenberg family through his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. He was a member of the sovereign, originally ducal, House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which had attained royal status in Denmark (1863), Greece (1863), and Norway (1905). Prince Philip had only taken the more "English-sounding" surname of Mountbatten, a translation of his mother's original German name, when joining the Royal Navy, on the advice of his ambitious uncle, Earl Mountbatten. Queen Mary was also of the generation which considered a morganatic surname—the Battenberg family is a morganatic branch of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt—to carry some stigma, and therefore did not want it to be the name of the British Royal House. Her attitude may have been influenced by her own origins; although Queen Mary's mother was a British royal princess, her father, Francis, Duke of Teck, was the child of a morganatic marriage, and for most of his life carried only the honorific Serene Highness. As such, he was considered somewhat declassé by strict royalists, something that may have rankled Queen Mary to some degree.
Winston Churchill raised the matter in Parliament where it was decided that the name of the Royal House would remain Windsor, as decreed in perpetuity by Queen Mary's husband, King George V. The principle of strict patrilineality was applied in the succession of Queen Victoria, of the House of Hanover, whose offspring were of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, or Wettin, after their father, Prince Albert. If this case were repeated, the descendants of Elizabeth and Philip should belong to the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.
However, under an ambiguously worded Order in Council issued in 1960, the name Mountbatten-Windsor is apparently the personal surname of some of the descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. It differs from the official name of the British Royal Family or Royal House, which remains Windsor.[not in citation given]
The change of surname obviously does not apply to members of the royal family not descended from Prince Philip—the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, for example.
The Order specifically applies to those descendants of the Queen and Prince Philip not holding Royal styles and titles but in practice it is used by all, as exemplified at the marriages of the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal, when both used Mountbatten-Windsor in their entries in the marriage registers.[unreliable source?]
- Battenberg family
- Mountbatten class hovercraft
- Mountbatten Medal
- The Mountbatten School And Language College
- Mountbatten Internship Programme
- Edward Iwi
- Hough, Richard (1984). Louis and Victoria: The Family History of the Mountbattens. Second edition. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 317. ISBN 0-297-78470-6.
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