House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.svg
Parent houseHouse of Wettin
Founded1826 (1826)
FounderErnest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Current headAndreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Estate(s)Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Belgium, Portugal, Bulgaria, United Kingdom
Deposition1918 (in Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)
Cadet branches

The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (/ˌsæks ˌkbɜːɡ ...ˈɡɒθə, -tə/;[1] German: Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha) is a European Royal House. It takes its name from its oldest domain, the Ernestine duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but its members later sat on the thrones of the United Kingdom, Belgium, Portugal, Bulgaria, and Mexico.

Founded in 1826 by Ernest Anton, the sixth duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, it is a cadet branch of the Saxon House of Wettin. Agnatic branches currently reign in Belgium—the descendants of Leopold I, and in the United Kingdom—the descendants of Albert, Prince Consort.

In 1917, the First World War caused the British king George V to officially change the name from "Saxe-Coburg and Gotha" to "Windsor" in the United Kingdom.[2] In Belgium, due to similar resentment against Germany after the Great War, the use of name was also changed in 1920 by King Albert I to "de Belgique" (French), "van België" (Dutch) or "von Belgien" (German), meaning "of Belgium". However, the name "Saxe-Coburg" of the Belgian royal family was never officially abolished, and since relations between Belgium and Germany have been normalized for a long time, the use of this family name has been slowly reintroduced since the 2010s (especially since King Philippe of Belgium wants to limit the number of princes and princesses of Belgium, and thus the use of the designation "of Belgium", to only a select group of his family).[3]


The first duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was Ernest I, who reigned from 1826 until his death in 1844. He had previously been Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (as Ernest III) from 1806 until the duchy was reorganized in 1826.

Ernest's younger brother Léopold became King of the Belgians in 1831, and his descendants continue to serve as Belgian monarchs. Léopold's only daughter, Princess Charlotte of Belgium, was the consort of Maximilian I of Mexico, and she was known as Empress Carlota of Mexico in the 1860s.

Ernest I's second son, Prince Albert (1819–1861), married his first cousin Queen Victoria in 1840 (Victoria's mother was a sister of Ernest I). Prince Albert thus is the progenitor of the United Kingdom's current royal family, called the House of Windsor since 1917.[4]

In 1826, a cadet branch of the house inherited the Hungarian princely estate of the Koháry family and converted to Roman Catholicism. Its members managed to marry a queen regnant of Portugal, an imperial princess of Brazil, an archduchess of Austria, a French royal princess, a royal princess of Belgium and a royal princess of Saxony. A scion of this branch, Ferdinand, became ruling Prince and then Tsar of Bulgaria, and his descendants continued to reign there until 1946. The current head of the House of Bulgaria, the former Tsar Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who was deposed and exiled after World War II, goes by the name of Simeon Sakskoburggotski and served as Bulgaria's prime minister from 2001 to 2005.

The ducal house consisted of all male-line descendants of John Ernest IV, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld legitimately born of an equal marriage, males and females (the latter until their marriage), their wives in equal and authorised marriages, and their widows until remarriage. According to the House law of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the full title of the Duke was:

Wir, Ernst, Herzog zu Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, Jülich, Cleve und Berg, auch Engern und Westphalen, Landgraf in Thüringen, Markgraf zu Meißen, gefürsteter Graf zu Henneberg, Graf zu der Mark und Ravensberg, Herr zu Ravenstein und Tonna usw.

We, Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Jülich, Cleves and Berg, also Angria and Westphalia, Landgrave in Thuringia, Margrave of Meissen, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of Mark and Ravensberg, Lord of Ravenstein and Tonna, et cetera.

There were two official residences, in Gotha and Coburg. Therefore, the whole ducal court, including the court theatre, had to move twice a year: from Gotha to Coburg for the summer and from Coburg to Gotha for the winter.

For the Court Theater, two almost identical buildings had to be built in 1840 in Gotha (destroyed in World War II) and Coburg (now the Coburg State Theater) and thereafter maintained at the same time. In addition to the residential castles, Friedenstein Palace in Gotha and Ehrenburg Palace in Coburg, the ducal family also used the Schloss Reinhardsbrunn in Gotha, as well as the Schloss Rosenau and Callenberg Castle in Coburg, and a hunting lodge, Greinburg Castle, in Grein, Austria.


Coat of arms of Saxony

Ducal branch

Dukes, 1826–1918

Heads of the house since 1918

  • Charles Edward 1918–1954
  • Friedrich Josias 1954–1998
  • Andreas 1998–present

Although the ducal branch is eponymous with the dynasty, its head is not the senior member of the family genealogically or agnatically. In 1893, the reigning duke Ernest II died childless, whereupon the throne would have devolved, by male primogeniture, upon the descendants of his brother Prince Albert. However, as heirs to the British throne, Albert's descendants consented and the law of the duchy ratified that the ducal throne would not be inherited by the British monarch or heir apparent. Therefore, the German duchy became a secundogeniture, hereditary among the younger princes of the British royal family who belonged to the House of Wettin, and their male-line descendants.

Instead of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII of the United Kingdom) inheriting the duchy, it was diverted to his next brother, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. Upon the latter's death without surviving sons, it went to the youngest grandson of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany. Charles Edward's uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and his male line had renounced their claim. Although senior by birth, they were either not acceptable to the German Emperor as either a member of the British military or unwilling to move to Germany.

The current head of the ducal branch is Andreas, the grandson of Charles Edward. Since the duchy was abolished in 1918, the heads use the title Prince rather than Duke.

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry

The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry is a Catholic cadet branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. It was founded with the marriage of Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, second son of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, with Princess Maria Antonia Koháry de Csábrág. Their second son Prince August inherited the estates of the House of Koháry in Hungary and Austria. August's youngest son became Ferdinand I of Bulgaria.

Arms of Ferdinand II of Portugal of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Kingdom of Portugal

The Portuguese line was founded by Prince Ferdinand's eldest son, Ferdinand the younger, who married Queen Maria II of the House of Braganza and became king himself. It was overthrown in the Revolution of 1910, after which it became extinct in 1932 upon the death of Manuel II. Duarte Nuno of Braganza and his successors were descendants of the banished Miguelist line.

Arms of the Tsars of Bulgaria of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Kingdom of Bulgaria

From the accession of Boris III in 1918 onward, this branch of the family belongs to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Arms of the Kings of the Belgians of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, 2019 version

Kings of the Belgians

The Belgian line was founded by Leopold, youngest son of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Following Leopold's conversion to Catholicism to take the newly-created Belgian throne, this line of the house is Catholic.

Belgian royal house

Because of the First World War, the title of the family was unofficially changed in 1920 or 1921 to "of Belgium",[10][11] and the armorial bearings of Saxony were removed from the Belgian royal coat of arms.[11] Since the 2017 Carnet Mondain, the title "Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha" is again in use for all the descendants of Leopold I, with the exception of King Philippe, his wife, his sister and his brother who keep their title "of Belgium"; therefore the descendants of Astrid of Belgium do not bear this title, but that of "of Austria-Este" of their father.[12][13][14] The armorial bearing of Saxony was put back in 2019.[15]

Arms of Edward of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince of Wales, the first "Coburgian" to become King of the United Kingdom and Ireland as Edward VII in 1901

United Kingdom

The British line was founded by King Edward VII, eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His successor and son, King George V, changed the name of the royal house and family to Windsor.[16]


Patrilineality, descent as reckoned from father to son, had historically been the principle determining membership in reigning families until late in the 20th century, thus the dynasty to which the monarchs of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha belonged genealogically throughout the 1900s is the House of Wettin, despite the official use of varying names by different branches of the patriline.

Saxe-Coburg Dynasty Family Tree since the end of the 18th Century, showing their male inheritance of the thrones of Great Britain, Belgium, Portugal, and Bulgaria.


  1. ^ Jones, Daniel (2003) [1917], Peter Roach; James Hartmann; Jane Setter (eds.), English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 3-12-539683-2
  2. ^ "The House of Windsor – A Proclamation 1917". British Monarchist Society and Foundation.
  3. ^ Waarom Delphine de foute naam krijgt - website of the Faculty of Law of KU Leuven
  4. ^ Ciara Berry (11 January 2016). "Saxe-Coburg-Gotha". The Royal Family. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Homepage".
  6. ^ Bulgaria: Timeline, BBC News Online, 27 June 2007. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  7. ^ Former king marks first year as Bulgarian Prime Minister Archived 18 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Free Europe, 26 July 2002. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  8. ^ Bulgarian (or Spanish) Prime Minister? Archived 14 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Bulgaria Development Gateway, 24 July 2003. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  9. ^ Lord Alderdice speaking in the House of Lords on 19 May 2005, Hansard. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  10. ^ ROEGIERS, Patrick (17 August 2017). "Chapitre 23 : Le « roi-chevalier » n'est pas un héros". La spectaculaire histoire des rois des Belges [The spectacular history of the Kings of the Belgian] (in French). Perrin. ISBN 978-2-262-07112-7. Il [Albert Ier] décide le 22 avril 1921 de ne plus porter ses titres de comte de Saxe et prince de Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha, mais n’abandonne pas ses qualités et titres officiels allemands, tout comme Elisabeth garde son titre de duchesse en Bavière. Leur fils, Léopold III, les reprendra plus tard, ces titres n’ayant pas été juridiquement supprimés.
  11. ^ a b Balfoort, Brigitte; Van Paemel, Eddy, eds. (2010). "The Belgian monarchy" (PDF). Olivier Alsteens. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 December 2019.
  12. ^ Newmedia, R. T. L. (4 May 2017). "La famille royale s'appelle à nouveau Saxe-Cobourg: pourquoi est-ce bientôt la fin des "de Belgique"?". RTL Info (in French). Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  13. ^ "La famille royale s'appelle à nouveau de Saxe-Cobourg". Le Soir Plus (in French). 4 May 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  14. ^, La (5 May 2017). "Famille royalement de Belgique et Saxe-Cobourg". (in French). Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  15. ^ (PDF) {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on the official website of the British monarchy

External links

Media files used on this page

Flag of Belgium (civil).svg
The civil ensign and flag of Belgium. It is identical to Image:Flag of Belgium.svg except that it has a 2:3 ratio, instead of 13:15.
Flag of Mexico.svg
Flag of Mexico Official version of the Flag of the United Mexican States or Mexico, adopted September 16th 1968 by Decree (Published August 17th 1968), Ratio 4:7. The previous version of the flag displayed a slightly different Coat of Arms. It was redesigned to be even more resplendent due to the upcoming Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games; According to Flag of Mexico, the colors are Green Pantone 3425 C and Red Pantone 186 C. According to [1] or [2], that translates to RGB 206, 17, 38 for the red, and RGB 0, 104, 71 for the green.
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: PD
Flagge Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha (1911-1920).svg
Flag of the duchy of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha 1911-1920; Ratio (2:3)
Flag Portugal (1830).svg
Flag of Portugal, land use (1830-1910).
L'Huillier-Coburg Palace.jpg
Author/Creator: DrótosAnita, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
L'Huillier-Coburg Palace in Edelény
Coat of Arms of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1901).svg
Author/Creator: Sodacan, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
’’’Coat of arms of Albert 'Bertie' Edward, the Prince of Wales’’’ later King Edward VII (Albert Edward; 9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910. The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Before his accession to the throne, he was heir apparent and held the title of Prince of Wales for longer than any of his predecessors. He was heir to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until before his marriage when he renounced his right to the succession, which then devolved to his younger brother Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as their parents had intended. His arms until that time displayed an inescutcheon of the Kingdom of Saxony.
Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.svg
Author/Creator: Glasshouse using elements by Sodacan, Trondivers and katepanomegas, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
0 Château Royal de Laeken 2.JPG
Author/Creator: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, Licence: CC BY 3.0
Laken (Belgium), the Royal Castle (architect:Charles de Wailly - 1782-1784).
Grein - Schloss.JPG
Author/Creator: Bwag, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Südwestansicht des Schlosses Greinburg in der oberösterreichischen Stadtgemeinde Grein. Ein spätgotischer vierflügeliger Bau in beherrschender Lage, unmittelbar an der Donau im Strudengau.
Dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (descendants of Duke Charles Edward).png
Author/Creator: self, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Personal family arms of the House (dukes) of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha from, retrieved 2012-07-17
Bruxelles palais royal.JPG
Author/Creator: Velvet, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Le palais royal à Bruxelles (Belgique).
Schloss Walterskirchen.jpg
Author/Creator: Herzi Pinki, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 at
Schloss Walterskirchen, municipality of Poysdorf, Lower Austria
Author/Creator: Störfix, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Schlossplatz mit Denkmal Herzog Ernst I. und Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg (Germany)
Svaty anton1 (cropped).JPG
Author/Creator: Macdale, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
CO Schloss Rosenau1.jpg
Author/Creator: Störfix, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Schloss Rosenau
Schloss Rosenau bei Rödental im Landkreis Coburg
Coat of Arms of the King of the Belgians.svg
Author/Creator: Sodacan, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Coat of Arms of the King of the Belgians, in accordance with the Royal Decree published on 19 July and signed on 12 July 2019, by King Philippe of Belgium.
Schloss Callenberg Luftbild.jpg
Author/Creator: Presse03, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Schloss Callenberg in Coburg, Oberfranken, Bayern
Ebenthal - Schloss Coburg.JPG
Author/Creator: Bwag, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Nordostansicht der Schlosses Coburg bzw. Ebenthal in der niederösterreichischen Marktgemeinde Ebenthal.
Ein barocker, vierflügeliger, zweigeschossiger Bau. Seit 1830 im Besitz der Familie Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha.
Saxe Coburg Dynasty Family Tree.PNG
Author/Creator: self, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Family tree of the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on the thrones of Great Britian, Belgium, Portugal & Bulgaria, updated (cleaner lines)
Belgian King Philippe and Queen Mathilde.JPG
Author/Creator: Michael Thaidigsmann, Licence: CC BY 3.0
Belgian King Philippe and Queen Mathilde wave to the crowds in Brussels after Philippe's swearing in as new Belgian king.
Shield of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.svg
Author/Creator: Glasshouse using elements by Sodacan, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Shield of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Wien - Palais Coburg.JPG
Author/Creator: Bwag, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Südostansicht des Palais Coburg an der Adresse Coburgbastei 4 im 1. Wiener Gemeindebezirk Innere Stadt.
Das Palais wurde im Auftrag von Ferdinand Georg August von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld-Koháry in rund 5 Jahren Bauzeit ab 1840 errichtet. Im Zuge der Schleifung der Bastei wurde 1864 die Attikazone von Franz Neumann und Leopold Mayer neu gestaltet.
Reinhardsbrunn Schloss Winter.JPG
(c) Schatti2408, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Das Schloss von Reinhardsbrunn im Winter
Gotha Schloss 1900.jpg
Gotha Schloss um 1900
(c) Störfix, CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Veste in Coburg
Brasão do Fernando II.svg
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Brasão de armas do Fernando II de Portugal]]
Prince Andreas.jpg
Author/Creator: , Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
The Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on the way to the castle church at the Royal Palace in Stockholm before the wedding between Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill June 8, 2013.