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Who were Prince Albert's family, the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas?

Prince Albert's marriage to Queen Victoria was responsible for introducing multiple hyphens to the British monarchy. Who made up the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha? Historian Greg Jenner explains

A portrait of Queen Victoria and her family
Published: September 10, 2019 at 3:00 pm
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Until the 1870s, the realm we now call Germany comprised dozens of mini-states. In Saxony, the lands of dead nobles were split between brothers, rather than simply being inherited by the firstborn.


Resulting territories included the large Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach plus smaller duchies of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Hildburghausen and Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Prince Albert, the most famous member of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was born a Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. His great-uncle’s death in 1825 led to a baffling swapping of lands, creating four large Saxon states.

When Gotha-Altenberg became an extinct line, Gotha was exchanged for Saalfeld. So when Prince Albert married Queen Victoria in 1840, 'Saxe-Coburg-Gotha' became the house of the British monarchy. There you have it, but why they couldn’t pick a simpler moniker is anyone’s guess.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, historian and author Greg Jenner


This article was taken from the April 2015 issue of BBC History Revealed magazine


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