For the final and largest connection to the name Louis to the British Royal Family we turn to the Mountbatten family, also known as the House of Battenberg, the maternal side of the Duke of Edinburgh’s family which originates in the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt in the Holy Roman Empire. Here is a little background on the German Hessian dynasty.
Royal Standard of the Grand Dukes of Hesse and By Rhine
The House of Hesse is a European dynasty, directly descended from the House of Reginar that were a family of magnates in Lower Lotharingia during the Carolingianand Ottonian period. They were the ancestors of the House of Brabant, Landgraves and later Dukes of Brabant, Dukes of Lothier and Dukes of Limburg. The Reginarid Brabant dynasty ended in 1355, leaving its duchies to the House of Luxembourg which in turn left them to the House of Valois-Burgundy in 1383. Junior branches of the male line include the medieval male line of the English House of Percy, Earls of Northumberland, and the German House of Hesse which ruled Hesse from 1264 until 1918 and still exist. Louis, or the German derivation, Ludwig, was a frequently used name within the dynasty.
In the early Middle Ages the territory of Hessengau, named after the Germanic Chatti tribes, formed the northern part of the German stem duchy of Franconia, along with the adjacent Lahngau. Upon the extinction of the ducal Conradines, these Rhenish Franconian counties were gradually acquired by Landgrave Louis I of Thuringia and his successors. The origins of the House of Hesse begin with the marriage of Sophie of Thuringia to Heinrich II, Duke of Brabant from the House of Reginar. Sophia of Thuringia was daughter of Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia and Elizabeth of Hungary. Sophie was the heiress of Hesse which she passed on to her son, Heinrich I, Landgrave of Hesse upon her retention of the territory following her partial victory in the War of the Thuringian Succession in which she was one of the belligerents.
From the late 16th century, after the reign of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse (1509-1567) it was generally divided into several branches, the most important of which were those of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) and Hesse-Darmstadt. In the early 19th century the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was elevated to Elector of Hesse (1803), while the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt became the Grand Duke of Hesse (1806), later Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. The Electorate of Hesse (Hesse-Kassel) was annexed by Prussia in 1866, while Grand Ducal Hesse (Hesse-Darmstadt) remained a sovereign realm until the end of the German monarchies in 1918.
Landgrave Louis X of Hesse-Darmstadt was the son of Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, and succeeded his father in 1790. He presided over a significant increase in territory for Hesse-Darmstadt during the imperial reorganizations of 1801-1803, most notably the Duchy of Westphalia, hitherto subject to the Archbishop of Cologne. Allied to Napoleon, Louis in 1806 was elevated to the title of a Grand Duke of Hesse and joined the Confederation of the Rhine, leading to the dissolution of the Empire. At the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15, Louis had to give up his Westphalian territories, but was compensated with the district of Rheinhessen, with his capital Mainz on the left bank of the Rhine. Because of this addition, he amended his title to Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.
Louis II (December 26, 1777 – June 16, 1848) was Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine from April 6 1830 until March 5, 1848 (He resigned in the German Revolution of 1848). He was the son of Louis I, Grand Duke of Hesse and Princess Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt. He was married to Wilhelmine of Baden who was his first cousin. Through her, Louis had four surviving children – Grand Duke Louis III of Hesse and By Rhine (June 9, 1806, Darmstadt – June 13, 1877,), Prince Charles, Prince Alexander, and Princess Marie, the wife of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. The last two, however, are speculated to have been fathered by Baron August von Senarclens de Grancy, the longtime lover of Wilhelmine of Baden.
It is Louis II’s second son Prince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine (April 23, 1809 – March 20, 1877) to where we turn our focus. Prince Charles was married to Princess Elisabeth of Prussia (June 18, 1815 – March 21, 1885), the second daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia and Landgravine Marie Anna of Hesse-Homburg and a granddaughter of King Friedrich-Wilhelm II of Prussia. She is the great-great grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and By Rhine
Prince Charles and Princess Elisabeth’s eldest son was Prince Louis (September 1837 – March 13, 1892) and he was born at the Prinz-Karl-Palais in Darmstadt, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine in the German Confederation. Prince Louis was from birth, second-in-line to the grand ducal throne, after his father. On July 1, 1862, Louis married Princess Alice, the third child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. On the day of the wedding, the Queen issued a royal warrant granting her new son-in-law the style of Royal Highness in the United Kingdom. The Queen also subsequently made Prince Louis a knight of the Order of the Garter. Louis became Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and By Rhine on June 13, 1877. Their eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, born 1863, will feature again in our story.
Prince Alexander of Hesse and By Rhine
The next important Prince in our story is Prince Alexander Ludwig Georg Friedrich Emil of Hesse and By Rhine GCB (July 15, 1823 – December 18, 1888). Prince Alexander was the third son and fourth child of Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse and Wilhelmina of Baden. He was a brother of Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna. The Battenberg/Mountbatten family descends from Alexander and his wife Countess Julia von Hauke, a former lady-in-waiting to his sister.
Alexander fell in love with Countess Julia Hauke, lady-in-waiting to his sister, future Tasrina Maria Alexandrovna. Countess Hauke, was an orphaned German-Polish ward of the Russian Emperor, and daughter of the Emperor’s former minister of war. At that time, the Emperor Nicholas I was considering Alexander as a possible husband for his niece and, when he heard of Alexander’s romance, he forbade the couple to marry.
Alexander left Russia for England to contemplate his future, but then returned to Russia and eloped with Julia from St. Petersburg, resulting in exile and being stricken by the Emperor’s orders from the roll of the Russian imperial army for insubordination. The two were married in Breslau in 1851. Alexander’s older brother Louis III, Grand Duke of Hesse, allowed him to re-patriate to Hesse with his bride, although he did not recognize their marriage as dynastic. He granted her the new, hereditary title of Countess von Battenberg with the style Illustrious Highness (H.Ill.H.). (Battenberg was a small town and ruined castle in the north of the grand duchy which, according to the memoirs of their eldest child Marie, the family visited once during her youth, although it never became their residence).
In 1858 Grand Duke Louis III elevated Countess von Battenberg’s title to that of Princess of Battenberg with the style Serene Highness (HSH). The children of Alexander and Julia thus bore the title of Prince (German: Prinz) or Princess (German: Prinzessin) and the style Serene Highness (German: Durchlaucht). Battenberg thus became the name of a morganatic cadet branch of the Grand Ducal family of Hesse, without right of succession.
The name Battenberg was last used by her youngest son, Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg, who died childless in 1924. Most members of the family, residing in the United Kingdom, had renounced their German titles in 1917, due to rising anti-German sentiment among the British public during World War I, and changed their name to Mountbatten, an anglicised version of Battenberg.
The eldest son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and By Rhine and Princess Julia of Battenberg was Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg (May 24, 1854 – September 11, 1921), born six months after their elopement. Although born in Austria, and brought up in Italy and Germany, he enrolled in the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy at the age of fourteen. Queen Victoria and her son King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, occasionally intervened in his career.
Prince Louis of Battenberg (Louis Mountbatten the 1st Marquess of Milford Haven)
Prince Louis of Battenberg married his father’s first cousin, the aforementioned Princess Victoria of Hesse and Rhine, the daughter of Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and By Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
In 1912, after a naval career lasting more than forty years, Prince Louis of Battenberg was appointed First Sea Lord, the professional head of the British naval service. With World War I looming, he took steps to ready the British fleet for combat, but his background as a German prince forced his retirement once the war began, when anti-German sentiment was running high. In 1917 when anti-German sentiment had reached its zenith, Prince Louis changed his name to Mountbatten, the Anglicized name for Battenberg and relinquished his German titles, at the behest of King George V. In return for giving up his German titles, and for his many years of service in the British Navy, King George V created Louis Mountbatten the 1st Marquess of Milford Haven.
The Marquess of Milford Haven and Princess Victoria of Hesse and By Rhine (Marchioness of Milford Haven) were the parents of four children.
1. George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven.
2. Louise Mountbatten, second wife of King Gustaf VI Adolph of Sweden.
3. Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
4. Princess Alice of Battenberg who married Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark (prior to the relinquishment of her German title) and were the parents of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
This brings us to the person with the name of Louis who had a great influence on today’s British Royal Family. Admiral of the Fleet, Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS (June 25, 1900 – August 27, 1979) second son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine (Marquess and Marchioness of Milford Haven). Since Lord Mountbatten was born 17 years prior to his family relinquishing their German titles, Lord Louis was born HSH Prince Louis of Battenberg.
Lord Louis was a British Royal Navy officer and statesman, a maternal uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II. Despite his family’s Hessian foreign origins, he was born in the United Kingdom, and was considered a member of the Royal Family both due to his descent from Queen Victoria and his close blood relation to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. During the Second World War, he was Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command (1943–1946). He was the last Viceroy of India (1947) and the first Governor-General of independent India (1947–1948).
From 1954 to 1959, Mountbatten was First Sea Lord, a position that had been held by his father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, some forty years earlier. Thereafter he served as Chief of the Defence Staff until 1965, making him the longest serving professional head of the British Armed Forces to date. During this period Mountbatten also served as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee for a year.
In 1979, Lord Mountbatten, his grandson Nicholas, and two others were murdered by a bomb set by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, hidden aboard his fishing boat in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland.
Lord Mountbatten was close to the British Royal Family and had a profound affect on the current Prince of Wales who considered his great-uncle to be his honorary grandfather. His influence is felt in many ways, one of them being his name lives on in members of the Royal Family.
Here is a list of the current members of the Royal Family that have the name Louis among their names.
1. Lord Frederick Windsor (Frederick Michael George David Louis; born April 6, 1979), also nicknamed Freddie Windsor, is a British financial analyst, and the only son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
He is a first cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II and a first cousin twice removed of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is 47th in the line of succession to the British throne. Lord Frederick and his sister, Lady Gabriella, were brought up in the Church of England. I do not believe his name of Louis is after Lord Mountbatten.
2. HRH. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, KG, GCVO, CD, ADC(P) (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born March 10, 1964) is the youngest of four children and the third son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. At the time of his birth, he was third in line of succession to the British throne; he is now tenth.
HRH The Duke of Cambridge
3. HRH. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, KG, KT, PC, ADC(P) (William Arthur Philip Louis; born June 21, 1982) is a member of the British royal family. He is the elder son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, and since birth has been second in the line of succession to the British throne, after his father.
4. HRH. Prince George of Cambridge (George Alexander Louis; born July 22, 2013) is a member of the British royal family. He is the eldest child and elder son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and third in the line of succession to the British throne. As he is expected to become king, his birth was widely celebrated across the Commonwealth realms.
HRH Prince Louis of Cambridge
5. Prince Louis of Cambridge (Louis Arthur Charles; born April 23, 2018) is a member of the British royal family. He is the third and youngest child and second son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. He is fifth in the line of succession to the British throne.