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Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
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Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha or Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha) was once the name given to two the German duchies of Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha in Germany, in the present states of Bavaria and Thuringia, which were in personal union between 1826 and 1918. The two duchies were both among the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty. The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was formerly the Royal House of several European monarchies and branches currently reign in Belgium and the United Kingdom. (The latter is the House of Windsor). The current house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is a line of the Saxon Wettin family.

The Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha came into existence in 1826, following the death of the last Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg without male heirs. His lands were repartitioned among his Wettin relations. Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld took Gotha, and changed his title to Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, although the two duchies remained technically separate.

Ernst I's younger son was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who became Prince Consort to Queen Victoria. After their marriage, it became the Royal House name of the British Royal Family until changed to Windsor by King George V in 1917 because a German name was deemed unpatriotic at the time.

Other members of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha came to rule in various other European countries. Ernst's younger brother, Leopold became King of the Belgians in 1831, and his descendants still rule. Ernst's nephew, Ferdinand married Queen Maria II of Portugal, and his descendants continued to rule Portugal until that country became a republic in 1910.

Another scion of the family, also named Ferdinand became Prince, and then Tsar of Bulgaria, and his descendants continued to rule until 1946. The current head of the House of Bulgaria is the former King, Simeon II, who goes by the name Simeon Sakskoburggotski and since 24 July 2001 has been Bulgaria's Prime Minister. He is the first former monarch in history to get back into power by a democratic election.

As for the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha itself, Ernst I died in 1844 and was succeeded by his elder son, Ernst II, who ruled until his death in 1893. As he died childless, the throne of the Duchy would have passed to the Prince of Wales, but he renounced the throne in favor of his younger brother, Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. Alfred's only son, also named Alfred committed suicide in 1899, so when Alfred died in 1900, he was succeeded by his nephew the Duke of Albany, son of Queen Victoria's youngest son, who reigned as Duke Karl Eduard.

Karl Eduard reigned until 1918, when the monarchy came to an end. The two Duchies, bereft of a common ruler, became separate states, but ceased to exist shortly thereafter, with Saxe-Coburg becoming a part of Bavaria, and Saxe-Gotha merging with other small states to form the new state of Thuringia in 1920.

Contrary to common belief, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was not the personal surname of either Prince Albert, his wife or their descendants. Neither in fact knew what their actual surname was, as it was never used by royalty, until a late 19th century inquiry launched by Queen Victoria to clarify just what her surname was. After an exhaustive search, her advisors concluded that Prince Albert's surname, and hence her own after her marriage, was in fact Wettin.

Both Wettin and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha were changed to Windsor in 1917. However an Order-in-Council in 1960 again separated the Royal House and personal family surname of the monarch and her family. On that date it was decreed that while the Royal House name would remain Windsor, the descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, would be Mountbatten-Windsor. However, Prince Philip belongs to the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, and, technically, so will his descendants in the male line as well.

The capital of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was Gotha. It had an area of 1,977 km² and a population of 242,000 (1905).

Table of contents
1 Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
2 Heads of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha since 1918
3 Monarchs in the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
4 Kingdom of Belgium
5 Kingdom of Portugal
6 Tsardom of Bulgaria
7 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland / Northern Ireland

Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Heads of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha since 1918

Monarchs in the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Kingdom of Belgium

Kingdom of Portugal

Tsardom of Bulgaria

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland / Northern Ireland


1 The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in the United Kingdom changed its name to the House of Windsor in 1917.