The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, having successfully delivered an heir third in line to the British throne, next faced the problem of picking a name. (They settled Wednesday on George Alexander Louis.) Their choice was fraught with considerations of protocol, diplomacy and history.
Unlike new parents in the United States, William and Kate had limited choices. Not for them are the names that showbiz types choose to inflict on their offspring – Dweezil Zappa, Frank’s son; or North West, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby boy.
Nor was choosing from the list of most-popular baby names an option.
According to BabyCenter.com, the three most popular boys’ names so far this year are Liam, Noah and Mason. Liam is an Irish name, so that was out. Noah is from the Old Testament and was bound to offend somebody in the Mideast as well as provoke a lot of bad jokes involving arks and dictionaries. And King Mason? Really?
One U.S. website lists, in terms of the number of search queries, the fifth-most-popular name as Mo. You can imagine how well that would have worked out.
The royal family tends to cover its bets by giving baby heirs a lot of names. George’s father is William Arthur Philip Louis. His father, first in line to the throne, is Charles Philip Arthur George.
As it stands, the royal family has a limited number of first names to work with. Since William the Conqueror in 1066, the royals have chosen to play it rather safe in the matter of first names: William, of course; Henry, eight of them; Edward, eight of them, too; George, six of them (before the newborn); and noncontroversial monarchial monikers like Richard, James and Charles – not to mention two Elizabeths.
For original names, the Duke and Duchess could have looked further back in English history to Aethelstan, Eadred, Eadwig and Edgar the Peaceful, followed, perhaps predictably, by Edgar the Martyr. Aethelred the Unready is unsuitable for obvious reasons, but it’s still a great name.
About this time, England received a great leavening of Danes, who conquered quite a bit of the country, but the simple fact is that the names Sweyn Forkbeard and Harald Harefoot are not going to fly with the British public.
We wish the newly christened George Alexander Louis a long, peaceful and prosperous reign, not the least because on his mother’s side he comes from a line of refreshingly normal people.