15 June 2013

What Will Kate Name the Baby?

THE BABY has been named Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. Officially announced on Aug. 24.

Predicting royal baby names is more art than science. With unprecedented choices like Estelle in Sweden, Vincent and Athena in Denmark, and Ariane in The Netherlands, baby name forecasting is even less reliable than economic forecasting or the weather report. But, don’t expect the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to name their child Princess Poppy or Prince Dylan. Despite regular infusions of “fresh blood” like Diana, the Queen Mother, and Catherine herself, the British monarchy has remained the most traditional of Europe’s crowns.

For the last two centuries, British royal babies have been given names with historic significance and family ties. The heirs have often been given additional names that honor Wales, Scotland and/or [Northern] Ireland. For many generations after Victoria, she insisted that all of her descendants also have a name honoring either her or Prince Albert, but that tradition was broken with the naming of the current queen in 1926, who was not expected to be monarch. 

However, the first question is not what the names will be, but how many names the infant will receive. Queen Victoria gave each of her children three or four names each, with one exception. For some reason, she gave her heir only two, perhaps because she herself had only two, like the rest of us mere mortals. Edward VII gave all of his children four. George V gave his heir eight names (the same number as his wife Queen Mary) and his youngest son three, but the other kids received four. George VI gave one child three and the other two, while Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales chose four for each of their offspring. It’s unlikely that William and Kate will choose as few as two or as many as eight. Because they like to appear less pretentious, they could go with just three, but four would give them more flexibility to cover those family, historical and geographic interests while also including names they actually fancy.

The baby's 6th great-grandmother,
Queen Victoria as a child
Because this child will be a future monarch, it is highly likely that the first name will be one that has already been used as a regnal name in Britain. Limiting the choices to just the last millennium, the possible names for boys are William, Henry, Stephen, Edward, Richard, John, Charles, James and George. For girls, those names are Mary, Elizabeth, Anne and Victoria—if you include women who ruled for only a few days, you can add Matilda and Jane. If you add the names of Scottish rulers, the list includes Duncan, Donald, Alexander, David, Malcolm, Edgar, Robert and a couple of more ethnic choices (like Macbeth and Lulach) for a boy and Margaret for a girl. Digging deeper into history adds the possibilities of Edgar, Constantine and Harold. Since there have been so few reigning queens, the Cambridges might also look at the names of Queen Consorts. Since the Stewart union of the English and Scottish thrones, these add Henrietta, Maria, Catherine, Caroline, Charlotte, Adelaide, and the betting-parlor frontrunner Alexandra. Male consort names include Albert and Philip.

Looking at family names, it has been more common to remember royal connections than the non-royal bloodlines. Even Diana did not give her sons any Spencer names among the eight they share unless you count Prince Harry’s secondary name Charles, which could have been for her brother but was more likely in honor of her husband. Prince Philip’s parents, Prince Andrew and Princess Alice, were included among the 16 names of his children, but none of his sisters were. However, Philip’s uncle Louis Mountbatten was almost certainly honored in Princess Anne’s final name of Louise and Prince William’s names also include Louis. And, Queen Elizabeth may have been tipping her hat to her mother’s Scottish heritage by choosing the Stuart name of Charles for her firstborn, a name that had not been used in the royal family since the 17th century.

So, the new baby names could easily honor members of William’s immediate royal family and his royal grandparents. For boys, this means Charles, Henry, Philip, and of course William. For girls, it means Elizabeth and Diana. He might also remember his royal aunt Anne, aunt-in-law Sophie or his Spencer aunts Sarah and Jane. Unlike his mother, who ignored her parents when naming her children, he might choose Frances for a girl or John for a boy. Plus, they could signal the esteem they have for William’s stepmother by using Camilla.

The Cambridges are close with Kate’s family, so it is unlikely that the Middletons will be completely ignored as the Spencers were. The names in the last three generations of her family are James, Michael, Peter and Ronald for boys and Catherine, Philippa, Carole, Dorothy and Valerie for girls.
If the couple wishes to include names to recognize Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, they could choose the names of the patron saints. Edward VII’s eight names included David, Andrew and Patrick as well as England’s Saint George. William was given the name of the legendary (and possibly Welsh) King Arthur while Harry got David, which is both the national saint’s name and the name of Welsh Princes of Wales. National hero choices include William Wallace and Rob Roy (Scotland); Llewellyn and Owain (Wales); Robin Hood and Boudica (England); and Brian Boru (Ireland).
Since their royal duchy is Cambridge, William and Kate might also consider names from the last royal Cambridges, who were family of the Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary. The boys’ names in the family were Adolphus, George, Francis and Alexander while the female names were Augusta, Mary and Adelaide.

Now to my predictions, which have not been terribly accurate in recent years (although I did get it right with suggesting Icelandic secondary names for the Danish twins and Marie and Francoise for the secondary names of their cousin). I think the Cambridges will follow the traditions of selecting a regal first name and will honor their families. I also suspect that they will include a nod to Scotland, as the place where they met.

Queen Elizabeth II as a girl with her little
sister Princess Margaret and their
Cambridge granny Queen Mary
Although I am hoping for a girl (I do write about princesses, after all), the latest paparazzi snoopers are predicting a boy based on Kate’s shopping expeditions. So, let’s start with a name for a potential prince. 

For the first name, I think they will choose a regal name, but maybe not one that is from the strictly English tradition. This could mean the British king’s name James (although this is the name of the Queen’s youngest grandson and may be too connected to the Middletons as it is Kate’s brother’s name) or the purely Scottish one of Robert. I also like the idea of David as the name of both Scottish kings and Welsh princes. (Remember that they live in Wales AND will one day be the Prince and Princess of Wales). The medieval names of Richard, John and Stephen could also be resurrected, although kings with those names have tended to have terrible reputations. Another possibility is Arthur as a less expected choice with mystical/mythical connections. A stronger likelihood is George, the regnal name of the Queen’s beloved father.

For secondary names, I predict a tribute to William’s beloved grandfather Prince Philip, who is ailing, and a potential tribute to Kate’s dad, Michael.

For a daughter, much of the world is salivating over the possibility of a new Princess Diana, but I tend to agree with those who think that name would be more of a burden than an honor. However, they could use it as a secondary name. If they really want to shake folks up, they could use both Diana and Camilla and perhaps finally put to rest the nasty people who allege that William hates his father’s second wife.

As I mentioned, the bookies are giving fairly even odds on Alexandra as a first name, but I really think they will honor the Queen by calling the baby Elizabeth (which also is Kate’s middle name). They could also select Victoria, which is rumored to have been Charles’ choice if he and Diana had had a daughter. A nod to Scotland would be to use either Margaret or Mary, both of which are fairly safe guesses for secondary names. Other secondary name candidates are Carole or Caroline and Anne.

So, Catherine, if you are reading this, here are my final suggestions for you: (drum roll please)
Boy: Robert Philip Michael David or George Andrew Michael Charles
Girl: Elizabeth Carole Anne Louise or Victoria Margaret Diana Carole

The baby, a boy, was born at 4.24pm London time and weighed 8lb 6oz, according to the announcement from Kensington Palace at 8.30pm on Monday, July 22, 2013. He was ultimately named George Alexander Louis (all names that were in my pool of guesses!)

08 June 2013

Second Princesses

Reigning queens are somewhat rare, so younger sisters of reigning queens are even rarer. Here are some of these fascinating ladies who were always a princess but never a queen.

Elizabeth and Margaret on a 1947 stamp.
The most famous younger sister of a queen is undoubtedly Princess Margaret of Britain. Four years younger than her much steadier regal sibling, Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret was a lively young girl who grew into an even livelier young woman. However, both girls led a very sheltered life due both to their status and to the onset of World War II. The somewhat cloistered environment helped foster a situation where Margaret fell in love with one of her father's, later her sister's, equerries, Peter Townsend. Although a decorated war hero, he was 16 years older than she and married to someone else. His divorce did not make the romance easier, since the Church of England does not accept divorce and society was much more strict about such things. Margaret chose not to risk her Civil List payments and, after years of painful consideration, did not marry him. She then went on a bit of Harry-esque tear about society, mixed in with Bohemians and selected to marry a photographer. With "indiscretions" on both sides, they later divorced. She continued picking questionable lovers--she was an original Cougar. Her smoking, drinking, etc. took a toll on her health. She died the same year as her beloved mother, at the age of 71. (Read more about her and Townsend in my two-part post, An Affair to Remember.)

The royal family before Christina's birth.
In The Netherlands, Queen Beatrix actually had a trio of younger sisters, a couple of whom caused a barrel of concerns in their time. Princess Irene nearly caused a diplomatic catastrophe by her choice of groom. Not only was Prince Carlos Hugo a Catholic (once again a bigger issue with religion then than now) but he was a pretender to the Spanish throne. At that time, Spain was under the dictatorship of General Franco, with whom the couple seemed too close. The Dutch government did not wish to be seen to be supporting either Franco or one pretender over another. (Ultimately, the Spanish throne was restored, but to Juan Carlos.) Irene's very political behavior led to a government denunciation of her actions. Less than 20 years later, the couple divorce. The youngest sister, Princess Christina, caused great heartache for her family through no fault of her own. Her mother contracted German measles during her pregnancy, which led to Christina developing serious vision problems. Her parents, particularly her mother, relied on nontraditional, faith healers. This caused issues in their marriage, and the influence of these unconventional advisors distressed the public. Modern medicine ultimately helped restore most of her sight. Like her sister, Irene, Christine chose to marry a Catholic and was required to give up her right to the throne. Also like Irene, she eventually divorced him. Only the middle sister, Princess Margriet, has caused no public scandal, has remained happily married, and is still considered part of the royal family. (Read my post about Princess Margriet.)

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II has a pair of younger sisters. Both of them have always behaved impeccably. Princess Benedikte wed at age 24 to Richard 6th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, who passed away in 2017. They had a son and two daughters. Interestingly, the marriage rules of the princely house are stricter than those of today's reigning monarchies. Therefore, Benedikte's son Gustav, who succeeded as the 7th prince, has been unable to marry his longtime love Carina Axelsson. Carina, however, is fully accepted as a member of the extended royal family, even wearing family jewels on occasion, and she manages the family castle. The youngest, Princess Anne Marie, was the first of the trio to marry when she wed the newly crowned King Constantine II of Greece just two weeks after her 18th birthday. The couple had three children in quick succession, but the third one was born in exile after the royal family fled the politically tempestuous country, eventually losing the crown. They later landed in London, where they are still based, and added two more children to their brood.

Few people realize that Queen Victoria actually had a sister, too. She is often portrayed as a lonely, only child, locked away in her palace, but she actually had an older half-sister and half-brother from her mother's first marriage. Like her sis Victoria, Princess Feodora of Leinengen is actually a great-great-great-great grandmother of today's royal bride. Twelve years older than Victoria, they only lived together for a few years as Feodora married and moved back to Germany when Victoria was just eight. Both sisters did not like the restrictive atmosphere of their mother's home in Kensington Palace, but they remained close throughout their lives and Victoria often gave her money to visit her in England. However, Feodora died nearly 40 years before her royal sister.