Royal lineage Tracing 160 years of British queens, kings, princes and princesses

September 07, 1997

Two venerable households united in the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana: The royal House of Windsor and the Spencer family.

The Spencers are the older family.

Diana's ancestors settled in the sheep farming village called Althorp in 1506; by the end of the 16th century, they had taken roles at the royal court. At the beginning of the 20th century, one of Diana's great-grandfathers was Lord Chamberlain, or head of the household, to Edward VII and George V. Her father was an attendant to George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. She could trace her ancestry to two 17th century English kings, Charles II and James II.

In comparison, the Windsors are almost newcomers.

Windsor is the name the royal family adopted in 1917 in place of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, to obscure the family's German ties. The change was made during World War I when anti-German sentiment was high. The German ties were from Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, and her great-great grandfather, George I, originally of the German state of Hanover.

The worlds of the English upper-class and the aristocracy are small ones: Tracing the family trees, genealogists found that Diana and Charles were very distant cousins.

Pub Date: 9/07/97

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