25 April 2018

Still Waiting for a Name

Since we are still waiting for a name for the new Cambridge prince, I thought I would dig back out all of my predictions for the Cambridge kids and see what's still in the bag of choices. So here is a synopsis of my Boy Name Possibilities from all three Cambridge babies:

(Before we get started, I want to make sure that you know the Cambridges' first two children are named George Alexander Louis and Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.)

[UPDATE: The baby's name is Louis Arthur Charles.]

Embed from Getty Images

June 2013: What Will Kate Name the Baby?
Having failed to predict the unusual Nordic royal baby names that preceded the birth of Prince George (Estelle of Sweden, Vincent of Denmark, etc.), I acknowledged in this post that "Predicting royal baby names is more art than science." I went on to discuss the importance of choosing a name with historical ties for this particular baby, an anticipated future monarch. However, "historical ties" could include national patron saints, national heroes and legendary figures as well as former monarchs.

I rightly chose George as a "stronger likelihood" because it not only had been used by six previous kings, but also was the regnal name of the current queen's beloved father.

This time, I predicted that the baby would get four names -- he got three -- and listed my top boys' prognostications as:

Robert Philip Michael David or George Andrew Michael Charles

July 2013: Naming Prince X of Cambridge: A Scottish Surprise
As this post shows, I keep looking for more tributes to the Scots history among the British Royal Family. Since William and Catherine were naming a future king in 2013, I stuck to the list of Kings Regnant for my choices. I mentioned the kingly "English" names of William, Henry, Stephen, Richard, John, Edward, James, Charles, George, Alfred, Edmund, Edgar, Canute and Harold. Then, I added the Scottish regal names of Kenneth, Constantine, Donald, Malcolm, Duncan, Alexander, David and Robert. Finally, I topped the list with legendary Welsh King Arthur. Twenty options in all.

At that time, I foolishly (as it turned out) removed George from my guesses because it had become "too popular" among the media and the betting public. I also eliminated James. 

My top choices from this list were:

Robert, David, Alexander (one of Prince George's secondary names), Charles, Alfred, and Arthur.

Today, Arthur is one of the most popular options. Having learned my lesson before, I'm certainly not going to bet against. 

February 2015: Cambridge Baby #2 Names
For the Cambridge's second child, I eased off on emphasizing the names of former monarchs, which opened up a billion other possibilities. Not only could we consider the names of non-reigning historic royals and extended family members, but why not consider the names of Catherine's relatives and William's godparents, too? (Prince Norton, anyone?) Of course, I was still harping on my Scottish theme, too.... 

So, this time, my boys' choices were:
Philip Michael Charles or Robert Andrew Michael

(Let's just say, I didn't guess Charlotte for a girl. In fact, I didn't even mention it. Odd, since it's a name I personally and royally love.)

March 2015: Unusual Name Choices for the Cambridge Baby
Still waiting for Princess Charlotte's birth, I got bored one day and decided to think some more upon possible names, opting this time to look for less "predictable" ones to consider. (Don't get excited, the list did not include Madonna or Boris.)

Perhaps sensing the imminent arrival of a girl, I focused mainly on female choices, and listed only three possible "unusual" boy names that I had gleaned from long ago British history:

Lionel, Edmund or Edgar

April 2015: Final Baby Name Predictions
Growing restless as we waited and waited and waited for the baby, I decided to draft yet another predictive post. In my anxiety for the new arrival, I inexplicably (and inaccurately) decided that the baby would NOT by a girl. To which, I added the note: "If you've followed my predictions for a while, you'll that generally fewer than half of my predictions come true."

This time, I offered no explanations (although I did share baby pics of the Queen, Prince Philip, Diana, Charles, William and George, so that you might imagine how the baby would look) and simply stated that a boy would be named:


I also declared Elizabeth for a girl, which was kind of right since it is among Princess Charlotte's names.

March 2018: Georgian Baby Names for Baby Cambridge
For the third round of Cambridge offspring, I decided to draw upon my many decades of study of royal history to come to the conclusion that since George and Charlotte were the most commonly used names among the Georgian (or Hanoverian) British Royal House, William and Catherine most have a special affinity for this era. So, I carefully reviewed all of the names used by the families of Kings George I through IV and King William IV to determine which were the most likely. 

Since many of these names are also common among the current British Royal Family (William, Henry, and Edward, for instance), I made my brave declarations for:

Frederick or Alfred

April 2018: Desperate Twitter Predictions
In my desperation not to have never mentioned that name that is ultimately announced, I desperately listed the following possibilities soon after the name baby arrived:

Frederick and Alfred (because if I don't support my predictions, who will?)
John, Thomas, Philip, David, Maurice or Patrick

Then I tweeted out one final desperate attempt at arbitrary predictions:


And, now today, with Prince William's teasing references to people named Alexander and Jeremy, I am pulling Alexander out of my discard pile. Yes, they already included it in George's name, but I read somewhere that Catherine just loves it, so my last and most final and most desperate prediction in the hopes of final, at last, accurately predicting a royal baby's name, I give you:


23 April 2018

Princess Charlotte Breaks Glass Ceiling

Not quite three years old, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge has done something no other British princess has ever done before:  she has kept her place in the Line of Succession following the birth of a younger brother. Thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, girls now have equal rights to the throne as boys. Succession is now based on birth order. (Confirmed Catholics are still banned, but their spouses are now eligible after being banned since 1688.) Prior to this, daughters always fell in line after their brothers. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II would never have been queen if she had had a brother instead of a sister.

Let's take a look at some of the royal sisters who lost their spots to brothers, starting with the most recent:

The Lady Louise Windsor
by Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons
The Lady Louise Windsor (born 2003)
The Queen's youngest granddaughter was born prematurely by emergency C-section after a placental abruption threatened the lives of both her and her mother, the Countess of Wessex. Despite the rough delivery and an earlier ectopic pregnancy, the Countess and her husband, Prince Edward, went on to have another child in 2007. Since this child was a boy, James Viscount Severn, he leapfrogged over Louise in the succession. Now aged 14, Louise is best known for having served as a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Born 8th in line to the throne, Louise moved to ninth after her brother's arrival. Following the births of the three Cambridge babies, she is currently #12.

Lady Helen Windsor (born 1964)\
The third of four royal babies born in 1964, Lady Helen is the second child of the Queen's first cousin Prince Edward Duke of Kent. (The other four 1964 princelings were, in birth order, James Ogilvy, the Earl of Wessex, and Lady Sarah Chatto.) Helen followed her older brother George Earl of St. Andrews in the succession until their younger brother Lord Nicholas Windsor was born in 1970. Interestingly, George was removed from the line when he married a Catholic in 1988 and Nicholas removed himself when he converted to Catholicism in 2001. However, their children still fell into line ahead of Helen. With the 2013 Succession Act, George was returned to the line but Nicholas remains ineligible. George's two oldest children also became ineligible with their religious conversion. Born 12th in line, Helen is now at #41. Active in the art world and married to art dealer Tim Taylor, she has four children, aged 13 to 23.

The Princess Anne (now Princess Royal)
Photo from U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons
Anne of Edinburgh (born 1950)
Better known today as The Princess Royal, Anne was born third in line after her mother Princess Elizabeth and older brother Prince Charles. She moved up to second place upon her mother's accession in 1952. In the 1960s, she was displaced by two more brothers, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Since then she's been displaced by their children and by the Cambridge babies. Anne has two children and three granddaughters (with another grandchild due this year) with her first husband. She and second husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in December. She is now 13th in line after her niece Lady Louise (above).

Alexandra of Kent (born 1936)
The third granddaughter of King George V and Queen Mary, Alexandra was the second child of Prince George Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece. She was born on Christmas Day exactly two weeks after her Uncle David's abdication as King Edward VIII. For five years, it looked like she would remain firmly in line behind her older brother Prince Edward of Kent. In 1942, in the midst of World War II, their younger brother Prince Michael of Kent arrived, pushing Alexandra down a spot. Tragically, just six weeks later all of the Kent children moved up the line when their father was killed in a plane crash on active military duty. Alexandra grew up in the spotlight and was an it girl as a teenaged princess and young adult, always taking on royal duties. She married the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, a son of Scottish peer, who declined to accept a title of his own. Their children were simply styled as Mr. James Ogilvy and Miss Marina Ogilvy. Born sixth in line, Alexandra is now #51!

Mary of York (1897-1965)
Later known as Princess Royal, Mary was the third child and only daughter of the future King George V and Queen Mary. Born during her great-grandmother Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year, she might have been named Diamond if one suggestion had been taken. She was displaced in the succession by not one but three more brothers. As a teenager, she emerged as a civic leader during World War I (see my post The Teenaged Princess and the Soldier) and married a much older peer, who later became Earl of Harewood, by whom she had two sons and several grandchildren. Born fifth in line after her grandfather, father, and two brothers, she had slipped #16 by the end of her life.

(From right) Louise, Maud and Victoria
By Sydney Prior Hall, in the National Portrait Gallery, via Wikimedia Commons
The Sisters of Wales
Edward Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and his wife Alexandra has two sons followed by three daughters. The girls, Louise (1867-1931), Victoria (1868-1935) and  Maud (1869-1938) were all pushed down one spot when their little brother Alexander John was born in 1871. Sadly, they moved back up again the next day when the baby died. Louise later became Princess Royal and married the Duke of Fife. They had two daughters (read my post about their daughter Maud of Fife). Maud married a Danish first cousin who was later selected to be King of Norway. Their son Olav succeeded him on that throne and the Norwegian Royal Family remains the most closely related reigning family to the British. Victoria never married but remained close to her brother King George V until his death 11 months before her own. The Wales sisters, who were born fourth, fifth and sixth in the succession, did not fall very far. Louise died at tenth, Victoria at fifteenth and Maud at thirteenth.

Victoria of the United Kingdom (1840-1901)
Named Princess Royal just two months after her birth, Vicky was the first child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and was therefore first in line to the throne.. If she'd had no brothers, she would have succeeded her mother as Victoria II, albeit for a reign of just seven months. As it was, she held the position as heiress for just under one year. Generally speaking, Victoria's nine children alternated by gender (girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, girl, boy, boy, girl) so all of Vicky's sisters except the youngest, Princess Beatrice, were displaced by younger brothers. Vicky married and moved to Germany at age 17 and later reigned as Empress there for 99 days. Her husband was already suffering from cancer when he succeeded his father. Upon his death, his and Vicky's oldest child, Kaiser Wilhelm II ascended the German throne. The couple had eight children together, including a future Queen of Greece and two little boys who died young. Vicky fell from first in line to 28th at the time of her death.

10 April 2018

Book Review: The Quest for Queen Mary

I am not entirely sure how to categorize the latest book from Hugo Vickers, but I know I love it! As one of today's most respected royal biographers, Vickers has a high standard to uphold. His royal subjects have included Queen Elizabeth II's mother and her mother-in-law as well as the eternally fascinating Duke and Duchess of Windsor. For 2018, however, he brings us something completely different with a new and unusual approach to the Queen's paternal grandmother, Queen Mary.

The Quest for Queen Mary is not a true biography and Vickers is not its author. Instead it is a study about the writing of Mary's official biography by James Pope-Hennessy. By tracing Pope-Hennessy's preparation for the project and including the author's personal notes about his many, many interviews, editor Vickers manages to give us not just a treatise on how to write a royal biography but an exciting insight into the world of mid-20th century royalty. The views we get are sometimes surprising in their seemingly pedestrian activities (we see various royals driving themselves around town, planting flowers, playing parlour games, etc.) while simultaneously offering shockingly intimate revelations (secret liaisons, conflicting views of prominent personalities, and direct criticism of family members).

As the officially sanctioned biographer, Pope-Hennessy had nearly unfettered access to royals across Europe as well as their closest servants/staff members/advisers. No great monarchist himself, Pope-Hennessy is both at home and asea amidst the often glamorous but sometimes disorganized environments in which he found himself, each of which he describes in amazing and colorful detail. If you want to know about the homes and pets and eating/drinking habits of Queen Mary's extended family, Pope-Hennessy has provided delicious details. We get close-up views and direct conversation from Queen Mary's two surviving sons, the romantic Duke of Windsor and the far less celebrated Duke of Gloucester. We are reminded again and again that Mary and her late husband, King George V, were terrible parents, but we also learn that Mary was ostracized and maybe a bit bullied (to use today's vernacular) by her royal in-laws, that she was greatly embarrassed by her parents, but that she was dearly beloved by her nieces, nephews, and cousins. We learn deep, dark royal secrets, many of which were too deep and dark for Pope-Hennessy to include in the official biography.

Through it all, the notes are richly and thoroughly annotated by Vickers to ensure that the reader understands exactly who is being discussed at every turn. This is critical in a world where many people were known by familial nicknames and where their titles changed throughout their lifetimes.

The Quest for Queen Mary provides the reader with a fly-on-the-wall view of royalty, albeit from someone who was generally unimpressed by such august personages. We sit on the sofa with Prince Philip's aunt Queen Louise of Sweden. We get a few opportunities to meet Queen Victoria's popular  granddaughter Princess Alice of Albany, aka the Countess of Athlone, who remained a beloved member of the British Royal Family until her death in 1981. We even get to meet with a newly ascended Queen Elizabeth II at that most remote of royal homes, Balmoral.

Throughout all of it, Pope-Hennessy uses the language of his subjects, be it German, French, or the Duchess of Windsor's American Southern drawl. You can hear them speaking through the manner he selected to depict their individual styles. "You'll find the Dook is a slow starter," he records from the Duchess. Later, we hear the Duke declare, "You realise there are only three completely royal persons alive now? My sister, my brother, and myself."

Those who enjoy reading about royalty will devour every tasty morsel that asynchronous collaborators Pope-Hennessy and Vickers offer up. For those of us who also like to write about royalty, you will find crisp, clear insights into the singular art of researching royal history. Oh, and you will also learn quite a bit that you did not know about the Queen's venerated grandmother, including the human woman behind that stiff veil of royalty.