BERLIN - It wouldn’t have to be a real monarchy. But a little royal glamor, just a taste of that feeling that we too had a special family with grand historic traditions: that would be nice. And how great it would be if we had something like a due date that stirred commotion nationwide, and a birth that caused collective tears of joy to flow!
Well, we don’t. And maybe that’s a good thing. After all, history did teach us that a king isn’t always good for Germany – and mass hysteria even less so.
But a baby Prince? A little fellow who belongs to the nation, whose first steps, heart-warming antics and adolescent capers we watch as if the child were our very own?
Truth be told, there's actually no reason for us Germans to be envious of the Brits and their joy at the newest addition to the royal family. Because even if they wouldn't like to admit it, we’re entitled to rejoice as well: William and Kate’s newborn is -- genealogically, at least -- also one of ours.
The British royal family is so German that until World War I, it even had a German name: Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. On July 17, 1917, King George V changed that to Windsor, after Windsor Castle, the royal family residence in Berkshire. But the name change couldn’t undo the German roots.
Albert von Sachsen-Coburg (Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in English) was the one who gave the British Royals their name. This was back in 1840, when the German prince married Queen Victoria. He was the love of her life, and her subjects loved his free spirit. He had significant influence on both architectural reforms and the administration of the kingdom.
House of Hanover
The couple had nine children. Their son Edward was the first British king of the Sachsen-Coburg line. Their eldest daughter, also named Victoria, married Friedrich III -- thus becoming German Empress and Queen of Prussia. Queen Victoria could hardly have imagined that one day, on August 4, 1914, her country would declare war on Germany led by her grandson Emperor Wilhelm II.
But there’s more. Victoria, ruler of the British Empire for 64 years, was herself German, daughter of Prince Edward, the fourth son of King George III, and Princess Victoria von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. When in 1837, aged only 18, she acceded to the British throne, ties with the House of Hanover ended: Kings George I, George II, George III, George IV and William IV had been both Electors of Hanover (Germany) and Kings of Great Britain and Ireland.
Another German ancestor of the new British prince is Maria von Teck. This granddaughter of Duke Alexander von Württemberg married the prince who would later become British King George V. Britain’s present Queen, Elisabeth II, is her granddaughter, which makes Kate’s firstborn her great-great-great-grandson.
The as-yet-unnamed boy also has a great-grandfather with German roots -- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s husband, who is a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. His mother was born a Battenberg.
The name Battenberg was anglicized as well – and Mountbatten-Windsor is today the official name of the British royal family. They may have changed Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor and Battenberg to Mountbatten, but never mind: the kid's still ein little bisschen German.