House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (/ˌsæks ˌkbɜːrɡ...ˈɡθə, -tə/;[1] German: Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha) is a German dynasty that ruled Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, one of the Ernestine duchies.

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Parent houseHouse of Wettin
FounderErnest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Current headAndreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Final rulerSimeon II
Estate(s)Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Belgium, Portugal, Bulgaria, United Kingdom
Deposition1918 (in Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)
Cadet branches

Founded 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 Belgiumthe descendants of Leopold Iand in the United Kingdomthe descendants of Albert, Prince Consort. In 1917, the first World War caused George V to change from "Saxe-Coburg and Gotha" to the House of Windsor in the United Kingdom.[2] In Belgium, after the World War in 1920, the name was changed to "de Belgique" (French), "van België" (Dutch) or "von Belgien" (German), meaning "of Belgium".


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 Queen Victoria in 1840, and thus is the progenitor of the United Kingdom's royal family, called the House of Windsor since 1917.

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, also named 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 II, 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 the 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.[3] For the Court Theater, two almost identical buildings had to be built in 1840 in Gotha (destroyed in the Second World War) and Coburg (now the Coburg State Theater) and thereafter maintained at the same time. In addition to the residential castles, Friedenstein in Gotha and Ehrenburg in Coburg, the ducal family also used the Schloss Reinhardsbrunn in Gotha, as well as the Rosenau and Callenberg Castles in Coburg, and a hunting lodge (Greinburg Castle) in Grein, Austria.


Ducal branch

Dukes, 1826–1918

Heads of the house since 1918

Although the ducal branch is eponymous with the dynasty, its head is not the senior member of the family genealogically or agnatic. 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.

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.

Kingdom of Bulgaria

Kings of the Belgians

The Belgian line was founded by Leopold, youngest son of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Belgian royal house

Because of the First World War, the family name was changed in 1920 to van België, de Belgique or von Belgien ("of Belgium") in the country's three official languages (Dutch, French and German). This family name is used on the identity cards and in all official documents. The armorial bearings of Saxony were removed from the Belgian royal coat of arms but put back in 2019. The branch of the family that ruled in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland also discarded their Coburg and Saxon titles and changed their name. Britain's King George V adopted the family name of Windsor, after the Royal Family's place of residence.[9]

United Kingdom

The British line was founded by King Edward VII, eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.


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.


  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. Janet Robinson and Joe Robinson, Handbook of Imperial Germany (Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2009), page 87
  4. "Homepage".
  5. Bulgaria: Timeline, BBC News Online, 27 June 2007. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  6. 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.
  7. Bulgarian (or Spanish) Prime Minister? Archived 14 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Bulgaria Development Gateway, 24 July 2003. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  8. Lord Alderdice speaking in the House of Lords on 19 May 2005, Hansard. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  9. Balfoort, Brigitte; et al. "journalist" (pdf). The Belgian Monarchy. Olivier Alsteens, Director-General of the FPS Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Wetstraat 16, 1000 Brussels. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  10. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on the official website of the British monarchy
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
New title Ruling house of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Duchy Abolished
Ruling house of the Kingdom of Belgium
Preceded by
House of Braganza
Ruling house of the Kingdom of Portugal
(Ruled under the name House of Braganza)
Monarchy Abolished
Preceded by
House of Battenberg
Ruling house of the Kingdom of Bulgaria
Preceded by
House of Hanover
Ruling house of the United Kingdom
(Renamed House of Windsor
by Royal Proclamation of 17 July 1917)

Succeeded by
House of Windsor
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