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Victorian Names: A Royal Legacy

queen victoria_s family

For this royal week, Eleanor Nickerson starts her guest blog with name-loving Queen Victoria herself, then goes on to explore the name trends in the Britain of her era.

Queen Victoria not only gave her name to an entire era, she also ‘gave’ her name to generations of children who were named for her, and was arguably a huge name icon of the nineteenth century.

It is said that Victoria was very particular about the names she chose, selecting from family members and friends, and even tried to dictate what her grandchildren were named.  Her nine children were named:

It is clear to see from the vast number of children named Victoria and Albert (or Victor and Alberta/Albertine for the opposite gender) that the Royal couple were huge namesakes for British Victorians, as were the queen’s children and grandchildren.  Many a Victorian child had at least one name that was also used by a member of the royal family –in many cases, the whole name – as can be seen in the records by the great number of children named Albert Victor (after Prince Albert Victor) and Helena Victoria (after Princess Helena Victoria).

Some lovely Royal names include:

 

The Birth Index clearly shows that if a name was used for a Royal baby, that name would most likely rocket in popularity. For example, Melita is recorded for 104 children from 1837-1876. In November 1876 Prince Alfred named his daughter Victoria Melita and in 1877 alone 41 children were given the name –with 276 more Melitas recorded over the following twenty years, peaking again in 1894 when the Princess married.

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prince

Yesterday we came up with our suggestions for the name of the first baby daughter of Prince William and his bride.  With the variety of girl name possibilities, it was relatively easy—almost an embarrassment of riches—but with the boys, there’s a far less fertile field, especially if we stick within our strict confines of names used in British royal history.  (Thank goodness for all those middle names!)

Most of the kings’ and princes’ names were repeated over and over again–Edward (William’s uncle), Charles (Wills’ father), George (numerous ancestors), Albert, Arthur  John, and the name William itself.

But of course, whatever name they choose, kings oftendo  take a different name to rule by than their given first name.  As seen in The King‘s Speech, William‘s great grandfather George VI had been Prince Albert (Bertie) before he was crowned, with George being his third middle name.

 That said, we were able to unearth a few more unusual boy choices, all of which stay within the royal lines:

AugustusAugustus was the middle name of George II, father of Amelia.  An imposing Latin name of the type bolder parents on both sides of the Atlantic are now daring to reconsider, Augustus can easily be unbuttoned with the friendly nicknames Augie or Gus.

Christian—A middle name of Prince Albert, son of Edward VII, Christian is currently a Top 25 name in the US, with many parents choosing it over the long-running Christopher. Once considered too pious for most people’s tastes, its image has changed partly due to such actors as Christian Bale and Christian Slater and fashion gods Christian Dior and Christian Louboutin.

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princess

Okay, this might be a little premature, since the royal couple isn’t even married yet, let alone pregnant. But at Nameberry, it’s never too early to start offering our ideas.

There are certain limits, however, for even though Princess Anne named her daughter Zara, and Queen Elizabeth’s first great-grandchild was recently christened the Americanized Savannah, it’s pretty doubtful that Prince William and Princess-to-be Kate Middleton will go that far afield for the name of their first son or daughter.  More than likely, they’ll reach back into royal history—but because British rulers typically use three or four middle names, they could slip in something less conventional for third or fourth choice. Not surprisingly, there’s more wiggle room for girls than boys.

Putting aside the most obvious options—such as Queen Mum and Grandmum name Elizabeth (also the middle name of Catherine Middleton herself) and Victoria and Mary and Anne, the royal couple would be staying within the prescribed lines if they considered any of the following names from British royal history:

Adelaide. The capital city of South Australia was named for the beloved 19th century British “Good QueenAdelaide,” the wife of William IV, and could be an appropriate choice for a 21st century “Good Princess Adelaide.”

Alexandrina.  This unusual member of the ‘Alex” family of names was actually the real first name of QueenVictoria, and would make an interesting and unusual pick, even though five syllables is a bit much, especially when followed by several other appellations

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royal baby names

Nameberry guest blogger Andrea, whom many of you may know for her intelligent and thoughtful advice on our message boards, is both a newspaper reporter and a royal watcher.  Here, her rundown of the names of the littlest princes and princesses of Europe.

The British royal family is traditional enough that it’s fairly easy to make an educated guess about its naming habits. Other European royals are far more creative in their naming, sometimes reflecting the current styles in their countries or setting styles themselves. The Crown Prince and Princess of the Netherlands gave all three of their daughters “A” names: Princesses Catharina-Amalia (called Amalia), Alexia, and Ariane. (That’s them with their parents on the right.)

Belgian Crown Prince Prince Philippe, the Duke of Brabant, and his wife Princess Mathilde, reportedly have a subtler theme in the naming of their children and have included the element “el” in each name. The children are Princess Élisabeth, born in 2001, and her younger siblings Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel, and Princess Eléonore.

Young Princess Eléonore is one of several young European royals with variants of the name Eleanor. Spain has the Infanta Leonor, born in 2005, whose parents pored over the family tree to find the name, which honors a medieval queen. Royal watchers also tried to guess what name the new Spanish infanta would receive; none I saw got it right. The following year another royal baby was given the name in the Netherlands: the Countess Leonore, daughter of Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien. Will all the Leonors set off a naming trend in other countries? Well, according to at least one newspaper article, Leonor is currently among the five most common names given to baby girls in Portugal.

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Royal Names: Beyond Elizabeth & William

Empress_matilda

Royal names in Britain go far beyond the expected Elizabeths and Williams.  Nameberry regular Kiki guest blogs today about the long and surprising selection of British royal names.

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.

Female:

HERLEVE/HERLEVA

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.

EMMA

JUDITH

ELFREDA

EDITH

ADELA

ADELAIDE – As with Adela, this name means “noble.” Perfect for a princess.

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