SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


The king who created the House of Windsor

King George V led the Royal Family through the First World War, oversaw the transition to the House of Windsor, and recognised the British Empire’s Dominions as independent nations. However, his birth in 1865 was that of a spare rather than an heir. 

Prince George Frederick Ernest Albert was born on 3 June 1864 to the then Prince and Princess of Wales. Princess Alexandra, wife of Albert Edward, heir to Queen Victoria, gave birth to the couple’s second son, George, at Marlborough House in London.

George’s older brother, Prince Albert Victor, was second in line to the throne after their father, so George was not expected to take the throne. In 1877, both George and his brother joined the Royal Navy for three years. As George was not particularly academically inclined, this was a good choice. 

By W. & D. Downey – Milne, J. Hogarth (circa 1914), Public Domain, Wiki Commons

After Prince Albert Victor died in January 1892, George was then in line for the throne after his father. Queen Victoria named her grandson Duke of York. In 1893, George proposed to his brother’s former fiance, Princess Mary of Teck, and they married in July 1893. 

George inherited the throne upon his father’s death in 1910. The new King and Queen were both related to most royal houses in Europe, placing them in a difficult position during the First World War. In 1917, as the war entered its final stages, George signed off on the family now being known as the House of Windsor; anti-German sentiments remained strong in Britain, and the Royal Family’s German heritage was minimised during this time. 

George died in January 1936 from chronic health issues; his doctor chose to issue a fatal dose of medication to ensure that his death would be published in the appropriate newspapers. He was succeeded by his eldest son, King Edward VIII, who would abdicate by the end of the year. 

About author

Historian and blogger at