In 2017 the royal House of Windsor celebrates it's centenary, and the Royal Mint is ready to mark the occasion with the release of new commemorative coins in honour of a century of service.
But who are the Windsors, how was the house established and why is there no official mention of it before 1917 despite being part of a clear Royal line that stretches back centuries? To gain a more complete scope on that story, we must look back almost another century to 1837.
This was the year that Queen Victoria ascended the throne and became the last ruling monarch of the House of Hanover. After her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, their descendants were titled as the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – owing to Prince Albert's lineage.
And so when King Edward VII succeeded his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1901 he became the first ruling monarch of Great Britain from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was then succeeded by his son King George V in 1910.
This then brings us back to the point of this introduction. During the early years of King George V's reign, the First Word War saw Great Britain embroiled in a devastating and drawn out war with Germany. The Great War, as it was known, resulted in unprecedented casualties on all sides and resulted in anti-German sentiments running high in Britain. So having a royal family, many of whom had German sounding titles was a source of great contention at the time.
King George V rather famously rebuked HG Well's criticism of his “uninspiring and alien(here meaning foreign) court” by replying that “I may be uninspiring, but I'll be damned if I'm alien”.
So on July the 17th, 1917 King George V issued a royal proclamation changing the name of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the more British sounding House of Windsor. The name Windsor was chosen for his ancestral connections with the region and Windsor Castle. In addition to merely changing the name, the members of the newly proclaimed House of Windsor had to relinquish their German titles and styles. The King's relatives who fought on the German side were then also stripped of their English titles and peerages.
And so the House of Windsor was established, and has ruled Great Britain and the nations of the commonwealth ever since. Producing four monarchs, including the longest reigning monarch in British history(Elizabeth II) and the only entirely voluntary abdication of the Crown in English history(Edward VIII).
In recognition the Royal Mint is releasing four commemorative coins in 2017, all sharing a common design. The reverse of which features the badge of the House of Windsor. This features the round tower of Windsor Castle resting on a mound with the Royal standard raised high, signalling that the Monarch is in residence. This is framed by oak branches on both sides and St. Edwards Crown to the top. The legend is inscribed along the rim and reads : “CENTENARY OF THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR” and “2017”.
The obverse in turn is dominated by the Jody Clark effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II, encircled by the obverse legend that reads : “ELIZABETH II – D – G – REG – FID – DEF” and “5 POUNDS”. The abbreviations stand for the Latin phrase “Dei Gratia Regina Fidei Defensor” which translates as : “Elizabeth II, by the grace of God – Queen and defender of the Faith”.
As is customary for commemorative £5 coins, the first coin released for the 2017 House of Windsor Centenary commemorative coins is the brilliant uncirculated £5 coin. This crown sized coin is produced from Cupro-Nickel and measures 38.61mm(1.52 inch) and weighs 28.28 gram. The Royal mint is shipping these in their usual printed blister pack presentation at a price of £13.00(US$17) each.
Following that coin there is the silver proof release of the same design. Struck from sterling silver(.925 Fineness) this proof quality coin is shipped in a black Royal Mint clamshell presentation box, along with the numbered certificate of authenticity. A maximum mintage of 13 000 coins has been approved with only 10 000 available in this presentation. The silver proof coin is available to order for £82.50(US$107) each.
In addition to the silver proof coin the Royal Mint is also producing a silver proof piedfort coin. Similarly to the regular proof, this coin is also struck from sterling silver and measures 38.61mm(1.52 inch), but the double thick piedfort strike gives it a weight of 56.56 gram(1.995 oz). With a total approved mintage of 5 500 coin, only 4000 of which are available in this presentation, the coin is selling for £155.00(US$200) each from the Royal Mint.
Finally the collection is rounded off by the House Of Windsor Centenary 2017 UK £5 gold proof coin. Struck from 39.94 gram(1.5 oz) of 22ct gold, this coin too measures 38.61mm(1.52inch) in diameter. The maximum approved mintage id 884 coins, although only 750 are available in the limited edition presentation, shipped in a gloss finish wood display box. The royal min is releasing the Gold coin at a price of £1945.00(US$2535) a piece.
I find the design of the 2017 House of Windsor Centenary coins to be very effective, simple and to the point. The rendition of the badge of the House of Windsor by Timothy Noad is perfectly proportioned for the coin with crisp details and no extraneous elements unnecessarily added. In terms coin designs – it does what it says on the tin, so to speak. Nothing that will set the coin collecting world ablaze but a very elegant addition to any coin collection to be sure.