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How To Name A Royal Baby


William and Kate have finally settled on a name for their son: George Alexander Louis. George will be third in line to the throne and known as Prince of Cambridge. BBC News reports:

“George was the bookmakers’ favourite for the first name of the prince, who was born on Monday at 16:24 BST, weighing 8lbs 6oz.

Royal infants usually have historical names which are passed down through the generations. There have been six King George’s up to now, most recently the Queen’s father, although he was known to his family as Bertie.”

Picking a name for an heir to the British throne isn’t as easy as you might think. There are only so many options, and many of them are colored badly by history.

If the French royals ever come back, they would go with Louis: the next one would be Louis XIX. But the Windsors have trouble. Some names are ill-omened: there has never been a John II. And there’s a kind of curse on the two most popular names: after Henry VIII, no royal baby named Henry ever made it to the throne. (James I’s eldest son was named Henry and died of typhoid at the age of 18. There never was a Henry IX and in any case, the Anthony Weiner of monarchical marriage might not be the best role model to pick.)

The old safety pick in royal names was Edward, but here too the curse bit. Edward VIII, a weak willed Hitler sympathizer and general no-count, abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, so it will be awhile before the Windsors go back to Edward.

There was talk of James and some punters, noting Queen Elizabeth’s fondness for Stuart royal names (her oldest two children, Charles and Anne are named after reigning Stuarts), bet on James. That was a mistake; James II was the worst English king of modern times and fled the country after his subjects revolted against his plans to subvert English liberty. They still celebrate his overthrow; it is called the Glorious Revolution and in many ways was the birth of real freedom in English (and American) history.

That left three real choices (unless you want to go back to Anglo-Saxon times and go for Ethelred or Egbert): Charles, William or George. Charles is the current heir, but is not so overwhelmingly popular that a dynasty wanting to perpetuate itself would want to wrap itself in his mantle. William was an option, but it’s been a long time since the British royal family deliberately gave the same Christian name to two reigning monarchs in a row.

That left George. It’s a bit controversial. Americans don’t love a name that reminds of all the things we disliked about George III, and choosing the patron saint of England for a future British monarch won’t win the Windsors many new friends among the restive Scots. The first four Georges were pretty bad (George III was easily the best man and the best king of the bunch), but that was a long time ago.

But as George VII, the new prince, won’t face any historical jinxes, and his great-great grandfather, George VI, is remembered fondly as a wartime king who picked up the pieces after Edward’s abdication. As the king in the recent movie The King’s Speech George VI has been on a roll lately.

It’s a cautious choice—some would say boring. But monarchy is conservative by nature; the Windsors want to stay where they are. They’ve picked a name for the baby that increases the chances that years from now his kids and grandkids will be living in palaces, inheriting thrones.

George Alexander Louis won’t have the powers of his ancestors, and he’s likely to wait almost as long as his grandfather Charles for a chance at the big chair, but Via Meadia wishes him and the whole family well. We don’t want or need royals here in the US, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate a good show.

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  • bigfire

    Louis is named after Prince Charles’ great uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India and a Naval war hero from WWII. Lord Mountbatten was also the man who introduced his nephew Prince Philip of Greece to a young Elizabeth, and was a favor uncle figure to Charles.

  • f1b0nacc1

    I was hoping for Phillip

    • M. Thompson

      Ain’t gonna happen. The last time was Mary’s King Consort who was Spanish.

  • Boritz

    It’s interesting that even though George III lost the colonies the name is not tainted and there have been three and now potentially a fourth George on the throne since that one. On the other hand Harold II lost to the French and that has not yet been forgiven.

    • tarentius

      Harold II lost his very shaky claim on the throne of England to William of Normandy, not the French. The Vikings and other Norse settled what became Normandy about 150 years before William invaded England. William and his warriors did not consider themselves French, but Norman.
      The Windsors, who so named themselves during the First World War because of their German roots, have produced a rather mediocre line of kings and queens.

  • diane

    Alfred? But Alfred would be a hard act to follow; who would want to risk “Alfred the not-as-Great”?

    If a commoner’s name could be selected, Winston would be a good choice.

  • Hugh

    British monarchs choose their titles once the ascend to the throne. Charles will not automatically become King Charles. He, apparently, intends to become King George.

    • Andrew Allison

      That practice stopped, at least temporarily, with Elizabeth II who, when asked what name she would take replied, “Why, my own of course!” Charles, if he ever ascends to the throne (by no means certain), will have the option of changing his name but, having been around for as long as he has, seems unlikely to do so.

  • wigwag

    I knew that Richard wasn’t an option, by why not “Arthur?”

    • Nick Bidler

      This was my first thought as well, but then I thought further; it would certainly encourage millennial thinking. The End Times (or Britain’s Greatest Hour of Need) are upon us, as evidenced by the return of King Arthur.

  • Corlyss

    “Windsors go back to Edward”

    I bet right now they never go back to that. Elizabeth still blames her lazy, self-centered, sex-besotted uncle for the death of her father. By forcing him to take the throne for which he had not been groomed and which had so much stress associated with it, so the charge goes, Edward shortened the nervous and anxious Bertie’s life considerably. One has to concede, however, that of the two, Bertie was by far the more appealing personality to stand with the Brits amid the ruins and fight the hated Hun.

  • Kavanna

    Don’t you mean George II? He was a fine king, although the highland Scots don’t like him for putting down the 1745 rebellion. George III was stubborn and eventually semi-insane, besides losing his American colonies.

    Of course, the Windsors produced some embarrassments. Then again, they produced Victoria.

  • USNK2

    The birth of George Alexander Louis was the most positive news of the week. Congratulations to the family.

    I think George is a fine choice, with Greek etymology meaning farmer, a nice aspect.

    I do hope the 200th anniversary of the publication of “Pride and Prejudice” coming in January, 2014, will not produce any backlash, what with George (alas) being the name of the most odious of all of Austen’s male characters, George Wickham.

    As to Mr. Mead’s “We don’t want or need royals here in the US,”, sometimes I wonder if the American experiment would have been a Constitutional Parliamentary Monarchy at a different moment in history.

    The duties of Head of State are significant, a fulltime job, which the USA has yet to figure out with our “Presidency”. There are always risks with hereditary monarchies, but it sure keeps a nation from having a never-ending election campaign cycle.

    Two other congratulations go to:

    1) Range Rover, and

    2) Queen Elizabeth II, not least for her role in transforming an imperial over-power into the British Commonwealth of Nations.

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