Countdown to the New Royal Baby Name: Hitting the Bullseye

Apr 21st 2015


The sentimental public says Diana. The tabloids tout Elizabeth. The bettors are putting their money on Alice. It's royal baby naming season again.

Even in our celebrity-baby-obsessed world, nothing compares to the focus on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their name choices. When your kids are tops in line for the British throne, you're not just a baby namer. You're a brand manager for the monarchy. Millions of people will dissect your name choice for the signals it sends about your family, your priorities, your past and your future. It's as if the entire country were your hovering in-laws.

The name choice must project a strong, comforting sense of heritage, which means a name from the royal family tree. Yet it should also be relatable: not so forbiddingly regal as to make the family look haughty and out of touch. The name the royal couple chose for their first son, George, hit both targets perfectly. It's simple and plain-spoken, and it's also the name of six kings and the patron saint of England. What could be equally perfect the second time around?

I offered an initial list of possibilities back in September, but with the clock winding down I'm going to focus on the intersection of regal tradition with stylistic simplicity...with one twist. Remember that England today is a land of nicknames. Babies are ten times more likely to be named Alfie than Alfred, and William's own brother Henry is universally referred to as Prince Harry. A highly formal name might be embraced by the public if it comes with the right cozy nickname. On the flipside, a popular nickname that's a little too informal might scare the parents off. Is England really ready for a Princess Frankie?

Here are the top fits, with their currently fashionable (top-500 in England) nickname options.
 

PRINCES

Albert (Albie, Bertie)

Arthur

Frederick (Freddie)

Henry (Harry)

James (Jamie)

Louis (Louie)

Philip

 

PRINCESSES

Alexandra (Lexi, Lexie, Sasha)

Alice

Charlotte (Lottie, Charlie, Charley)

Eleanor (Ellie, Nell, Nora)

Elizabeth (Eliza, Libby, Betsy, Beth, Betty)

Frances (Frankie)

Mary (Molly, Mollie, Polly, Mae)

 

Comments

1
April 22, 2015 7:05 AM

I'm highly doubting the use of Alexandra or Louis, since George's middle names are Alexander and Louis.

I'm hoping for Mary, Charlotte or Elizabeth for a girl, and Arthur or Philip for a boy.

2
April 22, 2015 8:48 AM

How come they're always due the same time as me? I had my James right before they had George. I was so glad they didn't pick James!

Now I'm due this summer and they're before me (because, you know, they care about lining up with me. LOL). Alice and Elizabeth are two of our top picks. I'll be devestated if they choose one of those - well, more if they choose the less popular Alice. Elizabeth is top 10 anyway in the US. 

Regardless - congrats to the family! We're all waiting to hear!

3
By CGDH
April 22, 2015 1:22 PM

My guess is Charlotte or Arthur. 

Would they really name a British prince James? That would be really surprising to me. Maybe not "Oliver" levels of surprising, but pretty bold.

4
April 22, 2015 2:58 PM

Why would James be a "really surprising" and "pretty bold" choice for a British prince?  There were two Stuart kings named James, and Quenn Elizabeth used Stuart names for her children Charles and Anne.  So why not James?  Oliver OTOH would be a gobsmacking level of surprise in a family which values its Stuart ties, Oliver Cromwell being, among other things, one of the signatories of Charles I's death warrant.  I doubt whether members of the British royal family would care to recall the name of a regicide.

5
By mk
April 23, 2015 12:53 AM

I doubt they would choose James since Prince Edward's son is James. But the British royals seem to be fine with James as a first name.

6
April 23, 2015 5:56 AM

The Royal Family already are haughty and out of touch.

7
By CGDH
April 23, 2015 7:56 AM

Obviously, Oliver is right out because of Oliver Cromwell. That's what I was referring to. Before George was born, Oliver was on some of these betting lists and clearly that is never, ever going to happen.

But I still think James would still be a bold choice, precisely because of the Stuart kings. If the new royal baby is named James, it would mean that the Jacobite rebellions are finally gone and forgotten, which yes, would be surprising to me. Obviously not shocking like Oliver. But brother princes named George and James would show that the eighteenth century is truly over. Except for the whole still having a monarchy thing.

(And thanks for pointing out that there already is a little James in the family. Yes, I'm surprised!)

8
April 23, 2015 10:50 AM

I can't imagine naming the spare Arthur. It would be pressure enough on the heir to be named for the once-and-future king of England, but naming little brother that would just be begging for trouble.

I wouldn't expect to see Alexandra, either--in addition to being big bro's middle name, the nicknames are more in the slinky category rather than cozy, which doesn't seem to be the royal couple's style.

9
By JayF
April 23, 2015 11:34 AM

I think the more popular nickname in the US for Alexandra, or even Alexandria, is Ally. I think that would be better than Lexie for a princess in England. Of course, Alice also lends itself to the sweetly old-fashioned Allie/Ally.

Of course, would that give rise to Kate and Ally jokes? Still, the popularity of Ally could make Alexandra or Alice a possibility. Since they pride themselves on using names that are heritage based, Ally also honors Albert.

Of course, Philip is interesting since Kate's sister is the infamous Pippa, aka Philippa. I think that would overshadow the nod to the Prince Philip in some ways.

Frances runs the risk of "competing" with Pope Francis and of course, his given name was Jorge. Just sayin'.

I'm just not feeling Princess Alice. It's too wonderland. Too many Queen of Hearts jokes possible, though I guess that could be cute. And Alice and the Red Queen keep popping up in teen lit right now. So, eh. Maybe.

I think Frederick and Eleanor are really nice, solid picks, hitting fashion and tradition just right. 

 

10
April 23, 2015 11:49 AM

Well, the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart) was the focus of the 1745 Rising, the one that crashed at Culloden.  Queen Elizabeth II named her sons Charles and Edward, so I don't think she was that upset about the Jacobites.  Not to mention that her other son is Andrew, tha name of the patron saint of Scotland.  The Old Pretender, otherwise known as the King Over the Water (leading to the Jacobite practice of holding the glass over a vessel filled with water when forced to toast the Hanoverian King George I), was James Francis Edward.  So I don't see any current royal aversion to the names of the Jacobite pretenders (or the Stuart kings).  I wouldn't bet on James, but I wouldn't consider it overly surprising or bold.  I wouldn't consider the current Prince Charles as 'bonnie', but historically speaking I don't see much difference between Charles and James in terms of expressing Jacobite sympathies.

PS: I did have to look up all of Bonnie Prince Charlie's names--I only knew Charles Edward offhand.

11
April 23, 2015 11:54 AM

Princess Alice was the name of Prince Philip's mother, and Queen Victoria also had a daughter Alice, so Alice is not a particularly far-fetched choice.

12
By JayF
April 23, 2015 12:23 PM

I don't think any of the names on the list are out-there choices. Of course, if you look at DeBrett's Peerage or one of those books, you'll see that nobility sometimes take risks with names. Of course, royals are a totally different matter.

I am always amazed at how often a name seems to suit a child once they are born. Are they the embodiment of the name or do people act a certain way around the name that then causes the child to act that way? 

Personally, I'd love to see them name the baby after someone in Catherine's family. Even a variation on Catherine, if it is a girl, since it is such a lovely name. And, I didn't realize she has a brother named James...

Ok, I took a minute and googled her family tree. It is riddled with nice choices. And, since her middle name is Elizabeth, that would in a way be a namesake for her, too!

John seems to be the predominant name in her family. Guessing that's not likely for the boy's first name.

Apparently, her family tree used the same names over and over, too. Not unusual. I hope she has an easy delivery and the baby's multiple names will surely be fun to see.

 

13
By mk
April 23, 2015 2:03 PM

In addition to what Miriam said, I'm pretty sure Alice has been used as a middle name for several royals as well.

While lovely names, none of these seem bold or terribly exciting. Bold to me would be something along the lines of Zara and Eugenie. I remember people saying Eugenie was a suprising choice when she was born, though the name does appear in their family.

14
April 24, 2015 9:36 PM

I read an article about this subject in the newspaper just now. It would appear that Alice is a VERY popular bet for if the baby's a girl.

15
By lbap
April 29, 2015 8:12 AM

Our daughter Alice is turning 6 years old next month. I'm super name obsessed.  It would be fun for our name choice to get this "nod" from the royal family! ;). However then I'd have to take George off our list for a potential future child, even though it was my grandfsther's name! :/

16
May 4, 2015 10:55 AM

And the little princess is... Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Gorgeous names for a gorgeous little girl.