Meet the Legoland-Windsors
On this date in 1917, George V announced that the family name would no longer be Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and would henceforth be “Windsor”. Anti-German sentiment had become increasingly shrill as World War One went on and names that sounded a bit German sounded more than a bit wrong. And to make matters worse, the Germans came out with a bomber aircraft, one of the very first of its kind, which managed to kill some British civilians. It was called the “Gotha”.
And so a committee of people got together to try to invent a new surname. Although George V was directly descended from George I, “Hanover” was no longer available because the sexist “sallic law” had prevented Queen Victoria from succeeding to the throne of Hanover (it went instead to her scary Uncle Ernie.) And of course Hanover itself had been absorbed into the new German Reich in 1866.
The committee considered “House of East Berkshire” and “House of Greater Slough” before honing in on “House of Windsor”. And so it has remained. But should it remain so? In one year’s time, this cosmetic name change will have lasted a century, and Powers That Be may decide another politic revision of nomenclature is called for.
Now hyphens are cool. Hyphens are classy. After a hundred years without one, the Royals are going to want one back. Hyphens offer continuity and innovation, building bridges between the old and the new.
It is for this reason that I suggest that the new name for the British royal family, to take effect in 2017 be “Legoland-Windsor”. The House of Legoland-Windsor. Meet the Legoland-Windsors.
This new hyphenated dynasty has immense commercial possibilities. While monarchists like to suggest that the royals do wonders for British tourism, they have long been embarrassed by the fact that actual supportive evidence is somewhat lacking. The monarchist tourism argument seems to depend on the belief that nobody ever visits Paris and that tumbleweed drifts through the ruins of Versailles. Especially embarrassing has been the fact that the Windsors are not even the biggest tourist attraction in Windsor, with Legoland attracting nearly twice as many visitors as Windsor Castle (unsurprisingly, given that Legoland is ‘access all areas’ and has much better rides).
If the Windsor Family rebranded to accommodate their physical proximity to Legoland, they would not only be able to pretend that they had some relationship with Legoland’s tourist revenue but they would also be able to absorb some much needed cultural capital and aesthetic respectability from an institution such as Lego, responsible for such phenomena as “Art of the Brick” and the justly celebrated “Lego Movie”. Lego can give the House of Windsor a degree of dignity it has lacked for decades.
So I can imagine a hyphenated surname for the British royals in 2017, one that reflects the most urgent aspiration of our age – corporate sponsorship. For the Legoland-Windsors, reinvention is just a few clicks away.