Why the Royal Family Don’t Use Their Last Name

Despite being so public, the Queen of Great Britain and the Royal Family rarely use their last name — so rarely, in fact, that some think they don’t even have one.

We at LikeAble found out that they actually do, and there’s a reason not to disclose it to the public.

© DAVID HARTLEY/REX/Shutterstock
© Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, with Princess Charlotte in her arms, Prince George, Prince William, Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip watch the air parade from the Buckingham Palace balcony

Actually, British monarchs do not generally use their last name because they don’t really need it. They are so famous that they’re known even without such formalities.

Up until 1917, members of the Royal Family did without the last name and only used their first and dynasty names until King George V brought some change to that tradition.

© The Library of Congress / flickr.com
© Russian Tsar Nicholas II (on the left) and King George V (on the right) were cousins and looked very much alike, as were their mothers, sisters Dagmar and Alexandra.

The thing was that King George was of House Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This last name is of German origin, which brought to mind unpleasant associations during WWI.

The King decided to change the unpopular name of his dynasty to something more plausible and chose the name Windsor after one of the castles owned by the Royal Family. However, George V didn’t just change the dynasty name — he also made Windsor the official last name for the whole British Royal Family.

© REUTERS/Alastair Grant/Pool
© Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in Westminster Palace.

In 1947, Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten, Prince of Greece and Denmark, who was serving in the British Royal Navy. The result was that the current last name of the Royal Family is Mountbatten-Windsor, although it’s not obligatory for them to use it either.

An interesting fact: the Queen of Great Britain doesn’t have a passport. This doesn’t prevent her from traveling around the world freely, though. It turns out that a ruling monarch can’t even have such a document because you may not issue a passport to yourself — in Britain, it is issued in the name of Her Majesty. To cross any border, the Queen only has to show a bill with her profile on it.

Most of you must have heard already that the Queen doesn’t need a driver’s license either. However, she’s still got one that she received in 1945.

© HUSSEIN ANWAR/SIPA/EAST NEWS
© Harry Wales was the name Prince Harry used when he served in the Royal Army.

As we’ve already said, members of the Royal Family aren’t obliged to use their last name, although in certain cases (like when studying at school) they still have to. However, even then they have quite a choice in the matter.

For example, Prince William and Prince Harry served in the Royal Army under the alias of Wales, because their father is the Prince of Wales. The Queen’s other grandchildren (the offspring of Princess Anne) have taken the last name of their father, Phillips. And yet another of Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughters, the daughter of Prince Edward, goes under the name of Windsor — without the “Mountbatten” addition.

It’s not hard to get hopelessly lost in all this diversity of names and titles! So it’s no surprise that today, like 100 years ago, the Royal Family still prefer to do without their last name when they can.

Preview photo credit DAVID HARTLEY/REX/Shutterstock
Based on materials from Business Insider