The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people who are the relations of the monarch in her or his role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with official national terms for the family. Members of the Royal Family belong to, either by birth or marriage, the House of Windsor, since 1917, when George V changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This decision was primarily taken because Britain and her Empire were at war with Germany and given the British Royal Family's strong German ancestry; it was felt that its public image could be improved by choosing a more British house name.
The new name chosen, Windsor, had absolutely no connection other than as the name of the castle which was and continues to be a royal residence. Although in the United Kingdom there is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the Royal Family, and different lists will include different people, those carrying the style Her or His Majesty (HM), or Her or His Royal Highness (HRH) are always considered members, which usually results in the application of the term to the monarch, the consort of the monarch, the widowed consorts of previous monarchs, the children of the monarch and previous monarchs, the male-line grandchildren of the monarch and previous monarchs, and the spouses and the widows of a monarch's and previous monarch's sons and male-line grandsons.
On 30 November 1917, King George V issued Letters Patent defining who are members of the Royal Family. The present royal house (ruling family) is the House of Windsor and Elizabeth II is descended from William I (1066–1097), and before that from Egbert, King of Wessex 802–39. The monarch or sovereign (king or queen) originally had sole power but over time the sovereign’s powers have been reduced and, though the present Queen is still head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, she acts on the advice of her ministers and Britain is in practice governed by Her Majesty’s Government.
The Queen has some official duties, such as opening a new session of Parliament and giving royal assent to new laws, but her main role is as a representative of Britain and the British people. She is also head of the Commonwealth and works to strengthen links between member countries. Other members of the royal family also represent Britain, act as patrons of British cultural organizations and support the work of charities.
Through most of the 20th century, the royal family were only seen on formal occasions and remained distant and dignified. United Kingdom is a monarchy which used the equal primogeniture in the succession to the throne. Equal Primogeniture is also known as Cognatic Primogeniture that gives the right to the firstborn child to inherit the entire estate.
Cognatic primogeniture allows a female to succeed if she has no living brothers and no deceased brothers who left surviving legitimate descendents. In October 2011, Queen Elizabeth II change the law in which the firstborn child regardless of gender. In the absence of children, inheritance passed to collateral relatives, in order of seniority of their lines of descent. The eligible descendants of deceased elder siblings take precedence over those of younger siblings. This is a list of current members of the Royal Family who bear the style of Majesty or Royal Highness:
* HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (her husband) * TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (The Queen's eldest son and his second wife) * TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (The Prince of Wales' elder son and his wife) * HRH Prince Harry of Wales (The Prince of Wales' younger son) * HRH The Duke of York (The Queen's second son)
* HRH Princess Beatrice of York (The Duke of York's elder daughter) * HRH Princess Eugenie of York (The Duke of York's younger daughter) * TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex (The Queen's third son and his wife) * Viscount Severn (The Earl and Countess of Wessex's son) * The Lady Louise Windsor (The Earl and Countess of Wessex's daughter) * HRH The Princess Royal (The Queen's daughter)
* TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (The Queen's cousin and his wife) * TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent (The Queen's cousin and his wife) * TRH Prince and Princess Michael of Kent (The Queen's cousin and his wife) * HRH Princess Alexandra, The Honorable Lady Ogilvy (The Queen's cousin)