With a royal wedding and the birth of a royal child less than a month apart this spring, there sure was a lot of talk surrounding royal titles and names. What would Prince William and Kate Middleton name the new baby? Would he/she also have the title of prince or princess? And what about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — would she be a princess after their marriage? Would Queen Elizabeth give the newlyweds titles of Duke and Duchess? There were many uncertainties surrounding these big milestones, and they were all revealed in due time. However, one question people continue to have about the royal family is whether or not they have a surname. Does Prince George have a last name, for example?
I, like many others, have never really thought about it until recently. The answer is actually pretty complicated, to be honest. Prior to 1917, royals didn't use last names at all, The Independent reported. What they did instead was have first names only, followed by the name of the house or dynasty they were part of. In 1917, however, King George V decided to change the house name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, according to the publication. This was because the former name had German roots — and considering the anti-German attitude emerging at the beginning of WWI, it made sense.
It wasn't until 1960 that Queen Elizabeth II — who is married to Philip Mountbatten (AKA Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh) — made a small amendment to the royal last name: She hyphenated it to Mountbatten-Windsor, according to the royal family's website. “A proclamation on the Royal Family name by the reigning monarch is not statutory; unlike an Act of Parliament, it does not pass into the law of the land," an informational page about the royal family name reads. "Such a proclamation is not binding on succeeding reigning sovereigns, nor does it set a precedent which must be followed by reigning sovereigns who come after." It continues:
Unless The Prince of Wales chooses to alter the present decisions when he becomes king, he will continue to be of the House of Windsor and his grandchildren will use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.
With that said, the royal family doesn't generally use a surname; they're already incredibly famous, after all. So what's the point? Things get a little trickier when situations call for a last name — like if a royal is serving in the military or attending school. Prince William and Prince Harry used the surname Wales — because their father is Charles, Prince of Wales — in school and while serving in the armed forces, People reported. And now for the big question: What the heck is Prince George's last name? For school purposes, it seems as if he's going by George Cambridge — as evident by the name tag on his school bag. (Try ultra-zooming into the tag on his backpack in the photo, below. Or check out a cropped image of the name tag in the People article.)
Just to recap: Mountbatten-Windsor is technically Prince George's last name; but there's no need to actually call him that because he's so famous. On school records, he is known as George Cambridge because his father, Prince William, is the Duke of Cambridge. Get it? Got it? Good.
Don't feel bad for not knowing before today, though. If Twitter is any indication of this widespread lack of knowledge, you were in good company. "How is the royal family the most famous family in the world and I don't even know their last name," one frustrated Twitter user wrote in May.
"What is the royal family's las name? WHY DOES NO ONE MENTION IT?!?" a similarly irritated person recently tweeted.
"Today I realized the royal family doesn't have a last name and I have been fully mind blown ever since," yet another Twitter user wrote on June 1.
Now that you know the true about the royal family's last name (or de facto lack of) it's time to spread the word. Use it as a conversation starter the next time you can't think of anything to talk about — and proceed to blow the minds of those around you. You're welcome.