What’s in a Name?

by The Laird o’ Thistle
July 05 2013

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby is due any time now. We will soon know its gender, but it will probably be a while until we know the child’s name. The British royals have a tradition of keeping the names of their newborns to themselves for a while after the child is born. That, however, is not curbing the speculation.

Whatever its gender, this child is set to become monarch someday… if the British Crown survives and Great Britain is not swamped by rising sea levels. So, whatever name is chosen will have to be deemed suitable.

Except for Princess Anne’s family, the Windsors have always been a fairly conservative lot in such matters. Although a monarch can traditionally choose their regnal name from any of their baptismal names, the fact that there is so much lifelong media coverage nowadays makes it unlikely that a future monarch will choose anything other than her or his first name. Thus we seem destined for a Charles III, a William V, and a…? The Windsors also tend to draw on old family names, but not on names too closely associated with any other current member of the family, at least not on anyone too close to the throne or too young.

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, chose very solid royal names for their two sons:

William Arthur Philip Louis
Henry Charles Albert David

The Duchess’s parents were also extremely traditional in the naming of their three children:

Catherine Elizabeth Middleton
Philippa Charlotte Middleton
James William Middleton

Then there are the grandparents:

Charles Philip Arthur George
Diana Frances
Michael Francis Middleton
Carole Elizabeth (Goldsmith) Middleton

And, finally, there is a certain pair of great-grandparents:

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary

There are, of course, numerous additional options, particularly if William and Catherine opt to delve back into the Victorians as Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, did for their daughters.

If I were to guess, and that is all that this essay is, I would bet that if it is a girl the name of the new little princess will include the names Catherine, Elizabeth, and Diana. But I would also guess that none of those will be the child’s first name. I rather think that H.M. might prefer that her name not be first. Diana would be possible, but it might also be viewed as a somewhat awkward choice in relation to William’s father. There have been several Queen Catherines as consorts over the centuries (Woodville, Aragon, Howard, Braganza), but the name has not been a very lucky one, historically speaking.

Other options? Victoria would be good, but that is the name of the current Crown Princess of Sweden. The possibility of two Queen Victorias overlapping in different countries might be off-putting. I am intrigued by the idea of Charlotte. George III’s consort was Queen Charlotte. Charlotte is the feminine form of Charles. Philippa Middleton’s middle name is Charlotte. That said, there is also the unfortunate history of George IV’s daughter Charlotte, heiress to the throne, who died in childbirth in 1817. Sophia is a rather trendy name that would, at the same time hearken back to Sophia of Hanover, the mother of George I, who did not inherit because her cousin, Queen Anne, outlived her by only a few weeks. One last, but to my mind perhaps best option, is Alexandra. It is one of H.M.’s names, bestowed on her in memory of her great-grandmother Queen Alexandra (wife of Edward VII). True, it is also the name of H.M.’s cousin, Princess Alexandra. But as she is now apparently withdrawing from active royal life for health reasons, and is quite far down the line of succession, I doubt it would not seem a conflict.

My guess, then, for a girl’s name:

Alexandra Catherine Diana Elizabeth

The name for a boy is equally puzzling. Once again I think it likely that the names William, Charles, and Philip will be included. But, again, I somewhat doubt that any of those names will be primary. Michael may be included in honor of Michael Middleton, but also not as a first name. Other names, then? Edward is taken, by the Earl of Wessex. This Scot would love to see another King James, but wee Jamie Wessex (Edward’s son) has that name currently in use. David would please both the Welsh (St. David) and the Scots (two kings by that name), but it is rather too politically biblical. Arthur would be too mythically daunting. Albert would be an interesting choice, a nod to both the Prince Consort (Victoria’s husband) and to the Queen’s father, “Bertie” (George VI). My wager, however, is that they may simply opt for good old George.

My guess for a boy’s name is thus:

George William Philip Michael Charles

All of this, of course, is offered in speculative good fun. In a couple of months we will know the child’s name. I the meantime I pray for a safe delivery and good health for mother and child, and for the continued recovery and well-being of Prince Philip.

Yours Aye,
Ken Cuthbertson

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