Allegiances Beyond Borders: South Australia's journey from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, 1915-1921

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera


A century ago this month the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty in Britain became the Windsors. This was much more than a mere name change. It capped a series of ‘de-Germanising’ or ‘de-Europeanising’ tactics by George V during the Great War to strategically reposition his dynasty and its future as fundamentally British. The change drew upon, and consciously projected, stories and traditions of a mythologised ancient past of ‘Anglo’ and ‘Celtic’ mixing or fusing to create a new and uniquely ‘Briton’ dynasty with shared genealogical and emotional links to every British community in the world.

South Australia was one of those British communities, and the dynastic strategy both mirrored and was interlinked with responses to a vicious anti-German campaign in the State. Between 1.5 and 4 per cent of South Australians shared some degree of German heritage, and the campaign to demonise, exclude and contain them between 1915 and 1918 was visceral and relentless. It was also, measured by its own objectives, perhaps the most successful such campaign in the Empire. Like the dynastic name change, the mass ‘toponymic cleansing’ of German place names in South Australia reached its fruition in 1917.

But, like the king, the opponents of South Australia’s anti-Germanists drew upon a mythologised traditionalism of what they called ‘admixture’ in response to anti-German ‘racialism’. Both sides invoked the dynasty and its supposed histories in support of their claims and counter-claims. Eventually, a re-imagined and newly-traditional royal family emerged, transformed for the cultural needs of modern South Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017
EventBiennial National Conference of the Australian Historical Association - University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia
Duration: 3 Jul 20177 Jun 2018


ConferenceBiennial National Conference of the Australian Historical Association

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