Sat. Sep 24th, 2022

What is the role of the royal family? A brief history of the House of Windsor

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After more than 70 years of service to the British people, Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, surrounded by her family. Upon her passing, Charles became the first king of the United Kingdom since 1937. He is a member of the House of Windsor, the ruling royal family that ascended to the throne over a century ago.

In 1901, King Edward VII succeeded his mother, Queen Victoria of the House of Hanover, as the new Monarch of the United Kingdom, assuring a new era for the Royal Family. Windsor is the sovereign monarchy for 15 states, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. 

Since Edward VII’s reign, there have been five other monarchs in the royal house: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, Elizabeth, and Charles.

BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY ORDER OF SUCCESSION

What is the role of the monarchy?

The government of the United Kingdom is based on a constitutional monarchy, with the monarch acting as the Head of State; however, all power to make political decisions rests in the elected government and Parliament.

The House of Windsor has reigned as the British Royal Family for over a century, following the death of Queen Victoria. 

The House of Windsor has reigned as the British Royal Family for over a century, following the death of Queen Victoria. 
(Photo by Chris Jackson)

As per the Royal Family website, “The Monarch undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history. In addition to these State duties, The Monarch has a less formal role as ‘Head of Nation’. The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognises success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.”

The Monarch may also receive support in their official duties from members of their immediate family. Moreover, charitable work and advising the current prime minister has been a common duty of the monarchy, especially during the reign of Elizabeth II.

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Over the last few centuries, the political power the monarchy has held slowly dwindled, starting with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 and later the English Civil War. 

How does the royal family get paid?

The Royal Family earns their yearly income from the Sovereign Grant, which is funded by British taxpayers provided by the treasury, according to Insider. Every year the monarchy is paid an equivalent to 25% of the Crown’s estate profits in exchange for surrendering all their property profits to the government. The grant also helps pay for travel costs, property management, and royal family employee payroll.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II, BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY’S NET WORTH

“The grant will be reviewed every five years by the Royal Trustees (the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Keeper of the Privy Purse), and annual financial accounts will continue to be prepared and published by the Keeper of the Privy Purse,” according to the Royal Family website. 

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How long has the royal family been in power?

The current royal family of the House of Windsor has been in power since the ascension of King Edward VII in 1901. Edward was initially a part of the House Saxe-Coburg and Gotha before renaming it to the English Windsor during World War One. 

However, a monarchy has existed in England and Britain for over 1,200 years with 61 monarchs. 

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