It’s Reigning Baby Names: Duke, Prince and Royalty

The new magic kingdom of baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

In 1789, when George Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the nation—the first elected president in the world– there was a lot of discussion about what he should be called. John Adams and others favored royal titles such as Your Highness and Your Majesty, even His Exalted Highness. Washington himself was said to be relieved when the humbler President was settled on.

How astonished would George be today if he could flash forward and see all the American babies being given those very exalted regal titles he rejected? This trend is not limited to pop royalty either: numerous titles from the British peerage and other international kingdoms, as well as words related to them, are being bestowed by all parents on their little heirs. Some of these royal baby names are already in the Top 1000–let’s take a look at those first.

Duke— When high profile couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic announced that they’d be calling their son Edward by his middle name of Duke, it gave a big bounce to this venerable nickname name (as in John Wayne, Duke Ellington and baseball’s Duke Snyder). Duke has also been used by Diane Keaton and Justine Bateman for their sons—as well as for many litters of puppies. Duke now ranks at #557 in the US—its highest ever– is 361 on Nameberry, and is #8 for boy dogs.

King— The top-ranking monarch name comes in at #152, after just reentering the Top 1000 in 2006 after a many-decades hiatus. King Vidor was an important early film director, King Gillette was a razor king and Blac Chyna named her first child King Cairo.

Marquis— This noble title ranking between a duke and an earl is actually on the downturn, now at #943 after peaking at 258 in 1990. It acquired a number of spelling variations along the way, including Marquise and Marquez. I’m wondering if its similarity to the name Marcus also contributed to its popularity.

Prince— This name can obviously be an homage to the late Purple Rain singer, who died last year, as much as or more than to actual royal princes like Charles, William, Harry or George. Michael Jackson famously called both his sons Prince, and it was also used by rapper Swizz Beatz. Prince now ranks at the surprisingly high #343.

Princess— Princess, at #767, stands well below her brother name, but it’s still the 43rd most popular moniker for dogs. Singer Ciara used Princess as the middle name of her daughter Sienna and of course it’s rich in fairy tale associations.

Reign— This unisex regal word name got the Kardashian seal of approval when Kourtney K. chose it for her son in 2015. Not surprisingly, Reign debuted in the boys’ Top 1000 the following year. And 344 girls received it as well.

Reina— The Spanish word for queen also reigns in the US, standing at Number 853, a rise of 77% in the past year, when it was given to 328 girls. Also an appellation for the Virgin Mary, Reina lags behind alternate spellings Reyna, Rayna and Raina.

Rex— Rex has always been in fairly common usage and not particularly because of his royal association. Now it’s at #632, partly appreciated for its sexy-rexy x ending, and is 213 in England. (It’s still a doggy fave at #59.) Coldplay’s Will Champion chose Rex for his twin son in 2008 and there have been Rexes on Desperate Housewives and Toy Story (for a dinosaur, quite logically).

Rey— Somewhere between Rex and Ray is this Spanish word for king. It was featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens—but for a female character. Rey is now at Number 868 for American boys and it was also bestowed on 63 girls—a number sure to rise.

Royal— This majestic word name is hot, hot, hot, leaping up to #460 from nowhere in four short years, possibly influenced by the Lorde hit, “Royals.” Royal was a main character name in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, and has a solid name-world history, used since the 19th century, and reaching as high as #274 in 1888. There were several Royal girls last year too—474 of them to be exact.

Royalty– And why not take Royal a little further and give it a little feminine flair? Royalty was actually #532 last year, perhaps inspired by the choice of singer Chris Brown for his daughter and an album in 2014.

Others that are being used but haven’t yet entered the magic circle:

BaronThis was seen sporadically in the 1960s and 70s; nowadays the Trumpian spelling Barron is more in the public eye.

EarlHas moved a million miles away from his aristocratic roots

KaiserThe German word for Emperor was used by Teen Mom2 Jenelle Evans and has since risen to #408 on Nameberry and came close to reaching the US Top 1000.

KnightA chivalrous name introduced by singers Kelis and Nas

MajestyYour own little Majesty could be either a girl or boy; 136 girls got the name last year.

NobleThis generic aristo name was actually on the popularity list from the 1880s to 1954, reaching as high as 312 in 1901. Noble Sissle was an early jazz legend and Noble was the name chosen by country singer Blaine Larsen for his son in 2011. With its positive, principled associations, we predict that this one could make a big comeback. It was even used for a handful of girls.

PharaohThe storied title used for ancient Egyptian rulers has appeared occasionally, though jazz saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders was actually born Farrell

SirBeyonce’s newborn twin Sir Carter Carter is the only one we know of so far. But stay tuned.

Also out there: Count and Contessa, Duchess, Emperor and Empress, Queen and Queenie, the French Reine, Regina, Rajah, Kingdom, Sovereign and Sultan.

Interested in more conventional royal baby names, such as Charlotte and George? Check out this list.

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10 Responses to “It’s Reigning Baby Names: Duke, Prince and Royalty”

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southern.maple Says:

July 20th, 2017 at 11:58 pm

King was originally used (at least in the US) as a Biblical reference to King David, King Solomon, etc. I don’t know that I’ve ever come across an historic instance of King as a given name where the middle name was not the name of a Biblical king. That’s not the case now but still worth mentioning.

Duke’s popularity in the South can also be attributed to The Dukes of Hazzard and Duke University.

Marquis’s popularity is almost certainly due to its similarity to Marcus. Looking at the stats, it seems to have grown popular alongside Marcus and its variants (Jamarcus, Demarcus, Lamarcus, etc) in the 80s and 90s.

linda Says:

July 21st, 2017 at 12:00 am

@southern.maple All good points!

CaitlinBrittin Says:

July 21st, 2017 at 7:04 am

I hope this is a short lived trend. I’m sorry but in my experience the people who choose these names are the opposite of regal and dignified, it just screams ‘trying to hard’ and in my opinion it always comes across as tacky!

Ruanne Says:

July 21st, 2017 at 8:09 am

I’m not seeing it. Much like leopard skin prints and gold purses, it’s a little too sumptuous for my tastes. But if you want to name your kids something majestic, go for it. You be you!

stella2007 Says:

July 21st, 2017 at 8:14 am

I do like Reign for a boy.

beynotce Says:

July 21st, 2017 at 8:28 am

I think it’s a little late to hope that names that have been in use for centuries are a “short lived trend.”

zsazsa00 Says:

July 24th, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Really interesting to see this post. I have fallen in love with Czarina and have decided to use it as a middle name. Thus to fulfill my pattern craze I have been looking into other regal/royal names for other possible future daughters. Reina is my second choice. Though I also really like Queenie, Markiza & Duquessa. Not sure if I would follow through with this naming pattern for boys… None of the name variants speak to me except Duke. Will probably go with a different theme for the boys.

Baby Name Popularity: Changing perceptions – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

July 26th, 2017 at 10:45 pm

[…] If you named your son Kingston 15 years ago, it would have been vanishingly rare. Today? At #132 in the US it’s hardly rare, but unless you live in a Kingston-pocket, you won’t find one in every class. Actors Lesley-Ann Brandt and Chris Payne-Gilbert have just called their son Kingston Payne. Chris has been using the hashtag #thekingpayne to introduce his son, so it looks like they’re following the fashion for royal names. […]

Popular Baby Names Around the World – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

September 20th, 2017 at 10:47 pm

[…] know that parents are loving title names at the moment – here are a couple of them to ponder. Emperor is vanishingly rare – it […]

The weirdest baby name trends in history – Dragon Cloud Says:

September 24th, 2018 at 11:49 pm

[…] rising baby names are also popular for pooches. The fact that names like Princess and Rex have long been used for dogs doesn’t seem to be hurting their growing popularity for humans, […]

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