23 July 2013

Naming Prince X of Cambridge: A Scottish Surprise?

Many had hoped for a princess who might be called Diana.
With that name off the table, what should they name the prince?

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

With The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's little one now safely delivered, the world has finally learned that the long-awaited, much-heralded child is a boy. Now we can stop talking about what-if situations like a new Princess Diana or Alexandra or Victoria or Elizabeth and start to focus on what in the world they might name a boy. With George and James topping most betting lists, beloved royal commentator Victoria Arbiter cautions that Prince William may just come up with a name none of us have thought of. (See my previous post, What Will Kate Name the Baby?, for my previously thought-of selections and an explanation of general royal naming traditions.)

Since the baby is scheduled to become king one day, I think we can safely presume that the traditionally minded royal couple will choose a name that has been used by a previous monarch.
As my earlier post states, after the Norman Conquest, English kings used just six different names: William, Henry, Stephen, Richard, John and Edward. After the thrones of England and Scotland were united following the death of the first Elizabeth, three more names were added: James, Charles, and George. Before the Conquest, some favorite kings had names like Alfred, Edmund, Edgar, Canute, and Harold.

But, who says William and Kate must limit themselves to English king's names. After all, they met and fell in love in Scotland, which is also the ancestral home of the late Queen Mother. There are several very ancient or very ethnic names that are highly unlikely, but possibilities include Kenneth, Constantine, Donald, Malcolm, Duncan, Alexander, David, and Robert.

Add to that the legendary and semi-mythic King Arthur, who is often now linked to Wales, and the list of possible first names consists of more than 20 contenders. A fair number of choices for any couple, I think.

In my previous post, I originally proposed Robert or George and later added David. I am now officially removing George from my guesses, because it has become just too "popular." The fact that it has been bandied about so much in the media makes me think Prince William will avoid it. Incidentally, I don't think the other popular choice of James will be used either since it is the name of Kate's brother. So, here are my top choices and why:

Robert the Bruce
Robert: Assuming that William and Catherine have an affinity for the land where they met and knowing that Scotland has been one of William's lifelong refuges from the prying press, naming their son for Robert Bruce, who is considered by many to be the best King of Scotland, might appeal to them. Interestingly, the oldest son of the first King William (the Conqueror) was also named Robert; he inherited Normandy while his younger brother inherited England. There have been no royal Roberts since the Stuarts but there have been three kings named Robert.

David: Sticking with the Scottish idea, David is another king name used during the Bruce era. (Did I mention that my dad is named David Bruce and his father was Robert Bruce?--not the same folks, of course.) David is also the patron saint of Wales, and was the name of two native Princes of Wales--an appealing connection perhaps since this baby will likely be Price of Wales one day. David had not been used in the royal family for centuries until it was reintroduced in 1894 among the many names of the future King Edward VIII who was known as David within the family. It was also the name of the late Queen Mother's younger brother (another Scottish tie) and is the name of the Queen's only nephew, Viscount Linley, whose daughter Margarita was a bridesmaid at William and Kate's wedding. And, of course, it has prominent biblical roots as the name of one of Israel's greatest kings. There were two Scottish kings named David.

Alexander: Another Scottish choice, Alexander also has very deep historical ties that stretch back to classical Greece with Alexander the Great. Since the new baby has already conquered the hearts of the world, it might be fitting to name him for a man who was one of the earliest world conquerors. Alexander has not been used as a princely name in Britain for several generations, but it is the name of the current Earl of Ulster, son of the Queen's first cousin, HRH The Duke of Gloucester. The female form, Alexandra, was also the name of The Queen's great-grandmother, who was Queen Consort a century ago, and it is the name of The Queen's first cousin, Princess Alexandra The Hon. Lady Ogilvy, who has been very ill lately and who is also one of Prince William's godparents. There have been three kings named Alexander.

Prince Charles as a young man
Charles: Yet another one with Scottish connections. Both kings of this name (so far) sat on both the English and Scottish thrones but they were of the Scottish House of Stuart. The name had fallen so out of royal use by the mid-20th century that it was said to have been a complete surprise when the current Queen gave it to her first child. The Cambridges could choose to honor William's father (whose parenting skills have often been unfavorably--and quite unfairly--compared to Princess Diana's). The Prince of Wales is the only current royal with this name, although it has a tradition in the Spencer family and is the name of William's uncle, Earl Spencer. Since there is one more Charles in line for the throne ahead of him, the new baby would be Charles IV.

Alfred: This choice would reach back to the earliest days of English kingship. The only King Alfred is also the only English king to earn the epithet "the Great." The name was used for a son of George III who died young and for Queen Victoria's second son,The Duke of Edinburgh (now the title of William's grandfather), which gives this name a connection to Scotland, too. It is not currently used in the royal family and may seem so "old-fashioned" that most people would be genuinely surprised by it. Nevertheless, thousands of Alfreds would likely be christened in the next few years.

The 1st Duke of Wellesley
Arthur: My only suggestion for which I could think of no Scottish connections, the name is steeped in great heroic legends and would evoke British pride with a new Camelot, much the way that many have lauded the Second Elizabethan era. Queen Victoria used this name for her third son, The Duke of Connaught, who was named for the great Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo and later became Prime Minister. This adds yet another nationalistic and heroic significance to the name. Among the current family, the name is used by one of the grandsons of The Queen's late sister, Princess Margaret.

Now, we just have to wait a little longer to see how well they will surprise us!!

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