Category: names of British royalty
Traditionally, members of British royalty have not only been given a whole string of middle names, most have also been given an affectionate nickname. Queen Victoria’s children, for example, answered to Vicky (Victoria), Bertie (Albert), Alee (Alice), Affie (Alfred), Lenchen (Helena), Loosy (Louise), Leo (Leopold) and Baby (Beatrice).
Previously, these names were kept within the family. But more recently, Charles and Diana broke the mold by formally announcing after their sons’ births that they were going to call William “Wills” and that Henry was to be called “Harry”.
This then opens up a variety of options for William and Catherine. Let’s say they choose the name “Elizabeth Diana Catherine Charlotte” for a daughter. They could use a nickname for the first name – Bess, Betsy, Lily, Eliza? – or announce that they will call her by one of her middle names, or even a nickname from the middle name – Lottie, say, or Kitty.
by Eleanor Nickerson of British Baby Names
It’s July! Which means, the month of the Royal Baby’s arrival is here. Many assume that the Royal couple only have a very small pool of names to choose from and, while this is true, royal history shows us that William and Catherine actually have a lot of flexibility in the way they can use those names.
Let’s take the example of King George V and Queen Mary who named two consecutive kings: Edward VIII and George VI. Their eldest son was given the appropriately “kingly” first name of Edward, but was actually known as David to the family – his full name being “Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David”.
The second son was named “Albert Frederick Arthur George”, but called Bertie by his family and friends. When he became king, the name Albert had no precedent as a regnal name (and was deemed a bit too ‘Germanic’ in the aftermath of WWI) so it was easy enough to use one of his middle names instead.
My mother had a collection of hardback books, a mix of factual and fiction, which as a child I had a particular fondness for and would sit with for hours on a rainy day. The thing that drew me to them was the aesthetic pleasure of a dusty old classic with a plain cover, usually in faded red. They spoke to me of simpler times, when books were appreciated and valued. Among this collection was a particular favourite, a History of the Kings and Queens of Britain.
It wasn’t an extensive study by any means but still, I found my love of names coming to the fore and would pour over the family timelines whenever I got the chance. Sophia Dorothea was an early favourite.
Whilst honouring relatives or ancestors seemed to be the norm in the choice of royal names, there was some variety. Political allegiances were made easy to follow. French ties appeared, particularly in the Scottish royal family, with Marie and Louis showing up (Although is that any surprise with the number of King Louis’ who ended up on the French throne?) Francois and Ferdinand married in and names like Augustus and Octavius hinted at links with the German throne. And if Olga didn’t make it clear that Russia had a foot in the British royal family then I don’t know what would.
And what of these lesser known royal names? Those who weren’t born royal but married in. Those who came from foreign countries, bringing their own exotic monikers with them. Those who were popular hundreds of years ago but for some reason or other fell out of favour. Well, that’s what we’re about to find out.
This list dates back just over 1000 years, to 996 AD, and collects some of the most interesting, unusual and unexpected names in the British family tree. They run in rough chronological order of their first appearance and I even compiled a little section for the Scottish throne, that includes names which either showed up there first, most prominently or in some cases only.
You may be surprised by what you find (and the few history lessons sprinkled throughout). There areeven a few nameberry favourites lurking in here.
MATILDA – The Empress Matilda is the highest ranking example and after her the name seems to disappear until George III’s sister, Caroline Matilda, is born in the 18th century. That’s Matilda pictured.