The Rise of the Windsor Dynasty Richard J. Garfunkel September 10, 2022

Windsor Castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in the decade after the Norman Conquest of 1066. William established a defensive ring of motte and bailey castles around London; each was a day’s march – about 20 miles– from the City and from the next castle, allowing for easy reinforcements in a crisis. Windsor Castle, one of this ring of fortifications, was strategically important because of its proximity to both the River Thames, a key medieval route into London, and Windsor Forest, a royal hunting preserve previously used by the Saxon kings

Windsor is one of the many names that the Normans brought with them when they conquered England in 1066. The Windsor family lived in Berkshire, at Windsor Castle. Interestingly, “The Stanwell family claim descent from Walter Fitz-Other (fl. 1087), who held that manor at the time of Domesday Book and was warder of Windsor Castle, whence he derived the name Windsor This was not the only time a family would assume the name of the castle as in 1917, the present Royal family would do the same.

How Did the Royal Family Become the Windsor’s?

The Hanoverians ruled Britain from 1714 through basically through 1837. After the end of the Commonwealth, which ceased in 1659, with the death of Oliver Cromwell’s son Richard, there was a restoration of the Stuart Kings: Charles II and James II. The Stuart Dynasty ended badly in 1688 after the Glorious Revolution. William of Orange had invaded Britain over the continuing conflict, regarding not only succession, but the religious politics regarding the attempted restoration of Catholicism. The attempt to restore the Catholic Church to religious primacy was actuated by the arrest and trial of the Archbishop of Canterbury and six of his Bishops. When they were acquitted, James II attempted to flee Britain, was captured and forced off the throne. He later died in 1701.

His removal brought on the era of the Dutch Reign with the dual monarchy of William and Mary (1689-94) and eventually that of their unmarried daughter Anne (1702-1714). In between, there was the short reign of Mary II another Stuart. With her death brought on the end of the Stuart Line and the three Georges from Hanover, Germany.

The sons of George III were, according to the Duke of Wellington, were “millstones around the neck of any government that can be imagined.” George III lived to age 81 and died blind and deaf on January 29, 1820. Before his death, he had been rumored to be delusional or insane. His eldest son, George Augustus Frederick, was known of the “Prince of Pleasure,” and became the Regent while his father, George III was incapacitated.

His title was conferred by the Regency Act on February 5, 1811. Subject to certain limitations for a period, the prince regent was able to exercise the full powers of the King. The precedent of the Regency Crisis of 1788 (from which George III recovered before it was necessary to appoint a regent) was followed. The Prince of Wales continued as regent until his father’s death in 1820, when he became George IV. This period would be later known as “The Regency,” a period of style, clothing, architecture, excessive spending, and debt. The Regent never deprived himself anything. He fell in love in 1784 with a Roman Catholic widow, Maria Fitzherbert and married her.

Though the ceremony was illegal, and the Prince disclaimed it, the affair shocked the public and infuriated his father George III. Eventually, he was forced to marry Princess Caroline of Brunswick and his private life went from bad to worse. Their relationship was impossible and in fact, he despised her. Eventually, after two weeks she left him for Italy. When the King George III finally died in 1820, she returned to claim her rights as Queen. After divorce proceedings and the efforts of Parliament to deprive her of any claims, the Privy Council decreed that she had no rights to her title. Amazingly, she died two weeks later, and the problem was resolved. George IV never remarried, had no children, but a number of mistresses. Over the next years, his health deteriorated along with his grotesque bulk. In 1830, he suffered a number of strokes and died. Most of his subjects would have agreed with Horace Walpole’s (The youngest son of the first British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Oxford,) view was that “he was a bad son, a bad husband, a bad father, a bad subject, a bad monarch and a bad friend.”

George IV’s only legitimate child Charlotte, died in childbirth in 1817, thirteen years before his death in 1830. There were no younger Hanoverians left in direct line to the throne. His second brother, William, Duke of Clarence, abandoned his mistress of twenty years and the mother of his ten children. After several rebuffs he was accepted by Amelia Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, a minor German principality. Though there was rapid births, two daughters died in infancy and there were still born twins, there were never any heirs. The third brother, Edward, Duke of Kent, gave up his French mistress of 25 years and married Victoria of Leiningen. In 1819 they had a daughter, the future Queen Victoria, The fourth brother was Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, was an unpleasant, sexual pervert, already married to a German princess, who was rumored to have murdered her two previous husbands. With all the other siblings, there was no other available heir. Thus, with the death of George IV and the succession of his 75 year old brother, William, the reputation of the monarchy was at a low ebb, and he did little to revive it. There were many struggles with Parliament, the question of a Reform Bill and the problems in Ireland. He dismissed the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, the last time a monarch was able to do that act, and Robert Peel, became Prime Minister. Peel found he couldn’t govern without a coalition, and William was reluctantly forced reappoint Melbourne. Aside from his gruff and blunt manner, he was regarded with a certain amount of affection, though combined, at times, with a lack of respect, bordering on contempt. He died in 1837 after a bout of pneumonia. The British crown went to his niece Victoria, and the crown of Hanover, barred to women by Salic Law, went to his brother, Ernest Duke of Cumberland.

As Victoria succeeded to the throne, which had been occupied by the three German Kings, known in the words of Sir Sidney Lea, “An imbecile, a profligate, and a buffoon!” Meanwhile, she had been brought up in a cloistered atmosphere by her controlling mother, the Duchess of Kent, who was under total influence of Sir John Conroy, the Comptroller of the Household. Her mother assumed that she would serve as Regent for her young daughter, who she saw as a pliant tool in their hands. Victoria had a strong sense of what she wanted, and was able to break away from her mother’s control and domination. After a period of leaning on dominant men, she met and married, at age 20, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, another German. He was bright, innovative, and he guided her skillfully until his death from typhoid in 1861. She entered a prolonged period of mourning as she retreated to her homes in Balmoral. Windsor and Osborn. She would remain out of sight for years, until her Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli was able to convince Parliament, against great opposition, to make her Empress of India in 1876. Eventually, in 1887, she celebrated her Golden Jubilee, regained a great deal of popularity and that popularity grew until her Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

She had become a great symbol for Britain, and had rescued the monarchy from the disasters of the Hanoverians and her own retreat from the face of her people. When she died in old age in 1901, there was a definite sense of loss and the end of an era. Her daughter lamented of an England without the Queen’s presence.

It was in 1901, the line of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (itself a cadet branch of the House of Wettin) succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy, with the accession of King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 1917, the name of the British royal house was changed from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor because of anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during the First World War.

Victoria’s son, who would become Edward VII, was born Albert Edward. As the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cornwall, among his numerous titles, was known as Bertie to his family. He was trained by tutors from the age of three to be intellectually disciplined. He married Princess Alexandra of Denmark at age of 22. Victoria never expected much of her son, and she may have been correct. He lived a profligate life and was cited often in divorce proceedings. He was helped by his wife’s “blind” eye to his numerous dalliances. In fact, he had an insatiable appetite for wine, women, song, gluttony and gambling. When he became King, in 1901, after a very long wait until the age 60, he had been given few royal responsibilities .As King, his conduct didn’t improve, it may have worsened. But, he actually was quite popular, and after the austere period of the Victorian Age, his lifestyle and the wealth of Britain opened up a new era, called the Edwardian Age, He had high marks for his ability to influence foreign diplomacy. But his lifestyle caught up with him and after a series of heart attacks, he died on May 6, 1910, only nine years into his reign.

George V was the second son of Edward VII. His older brother Albert was groomed for the crown, but died of pneumonia in 1892. George not only took his older brother’s place, but his fiancée, May of Teck, known later as Queen Mary. After he had become king, following the death of his father Edward VII, the country was in the midst of a dual crisis regarding the limiting of the power of the House of Lords, and a very critical Home Rule Bill. After the war with Germany broke out in 1914, he became a great symbol of patriotism with his visits to the front and his curtailing of royal expenses. Generally, for a quiet and unassuming man, he remained popular, and highly admired. He certainly was not an intellect or terribly educated. His reign was plagued with post WWI problems, a general strike in 1926, and the onset of the Great Depression. During World War, George V declared the following:

Now, therefore, We, out of Our Royal Will and Authority, do hereby declare and announce that as from the date of this Our Royal Proclamation Our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that all the descendants in the male line of Our said Grandmother Queen Victoria who are subjects of these Realms, other than female descendants who may marry or may have married, shall bear the said Name of Windsor….

The name had a long association with monarchy in Britain, through the town of Windsor, Berkshire, and Windsor Castle; the link is alluded to in the Round Tower of Windsor Castle being the basis of the badge of the House of Windsor. It was suggested by Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham. Upon hearing that his cousin had changed the name of the British royal house to Windsor and in reference to Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, German Emperor Wilhelm II remarked jokingly that he planned to see “The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha”.

He had four children, was a stern, unfeeling, distracted and uninvolved parent, as was his wife, Queen Mary. His eldest son, who become Edward VIII, had his own problems. George V was so concerned about his conduct and his shirking of responsibilities that he confessed to a friend, “After I am gone, the boy will ruin himself in twelve months.” But, by 1935, the economy seemed to be improving, he celebrated 25 years on the throne, but his health started to deteriorate from chronic bronchitis. He passed away in January of 1936.

As the monarchy passed to his son Edward, it seemed that his father’s prediction had come true. Edward VIII was a 41 year old bachelor and had been a restless soul, mostly interested in a very fast set and married women. His social proclivities were not covered in the press and he was quite handsome and popular. But, beneath the outward glamour, he was seen, by people who knew him, as lonely and insecure. He had met many women in his years as Prince of Wales, but nothing came close to a suitable marriage. Eventually, he came in contact with the married, and once-divorced American, Wallis Warfield Simpson. Eventually after her 2nd divorce, in October of 1936, he wanted to marry her. A constitutional crisis arose, and since he was head of the Church of England, a marriage to a divorced woman was basically illegal. Thus, the conflict could not be resolved in his favor. He abdicated in 1936 for his brother, George, who was hardly prepared for the role, could not speak well at all, had a horrible speech impediment, but at least had very smart and strong wife. Edward VIII, lived out his life as an exile, spent the war in Bermuda, visited the United States often, and died in 1972. Over the years his reputation has taken a mighty hit, especially regarding his fascist leanings, his visits to the 3rd Reich before the war, and the theories that if Britain was forced to make peace on Nazi Germany’s terms, he would be placed back on the throne.

George VI was a very reluctant king, shy, introspective and the father of two young daughters. In a sense, his eldest daughter Elizabeth was the heir presumptive, assuming Edward VIII had remained king and never had children or her father never had a third child, who was a son. As a young boy he was never strong, had an uneasy relationship with his father and was highly strung. As a child he had developed a stammer. With the help and guidance of his wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and a speech therapist Lionel Logue, he eventually mastered his stammer. He had been active in WWI, served in the Navy and the Air Force, and became the first member of the Royal family to obtain a pilot’s license. His reign was dominated with the tensions that led to WWII, the war itself, and the difficult recovery Britain suffered through in post war period. He and his wife Elizabeth tirelessly toured the bombed out areas of London and made a narrow escape when Buckingham Palace was bombed. He announced that he was prepared to die there fighting. The King and Queen became incredibly popular, as with his two daughters.

He certainly was worn down by the war, but the worry didn’t kill him, but, for sure, his incessant smoking led to his lung cancer and death in 1952. Of course, that would lead to his daughter Elizabeth ascending the throne, and the rest is history.

As for the Windsor Dynasty- There have been five British monarchs of the House of Windsor since 1917: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, Elizabeth II, and Charles III.




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A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

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