Predicting the Next British Royal Baby Name
By Eleanor Nickerson
After much murmuring and supposition over the last few months, it is now official that the third royal Cambridge baby is on the way.
2. Both George and Charlotte were popular names at the time of their births. George was #12 in England in 2012 and Charlotte was #23 in 2014, so odds are that the Cambridges will go for another “current” name. Mary is adorable and very royal, but an outlier at #249.
3. Some of the names they have used subtly honour family members. In George’s case, he shares a middle name (Louis) with his father. Charlotte shares her mother’s and maternal grandmother’s middle name (Elizabeth) – all three are “C. Elizabeth” – Charlotte is aunt Pippa’s middle name, and Diana of course speaks for itself.
4. Repeating names of extended family members is clearly not an issue. William has maternal first cousins named George, Alexander, and Louis and Charlotte Diana. That said, they have avoided names currently in use among the more immediate royal family (i.e. the Queen’s children and grandchildren) so Anne, Andrew, Edward, Beatrice, Eugenie, Louise and James won’t likely be first-name choices.
Based on all this information, I’ve compiled a list of names which I think best fit the criteria outlined above. There is a wider pool for girls than boys, as most of the official royal male names are all currently “in use” by the immediate royal circle.
Most likely candidates fitting their style:
Alice – This is the bookies’ favourite already, and it’s a great bet. Alice is a thoroughly royal name, and the princesses who have borne it have been highly admirable. Queen Victoria’s daughter championed women’s causes and nursing and even managed field hospitals herself during the Austro-Prussian. Her granddaughter, Princess Alice of Battenberg, also devoted herself to charity, organised shelters for orphans and worked in soup kitchens and sheltered Jewish refugees during WWII. This Princess Alice is Prince Philip’s mother, and therefore William’s great-grandmother. Alice is currently at #24– sitting right next to Charlotte in the ranks.
Amelia / Emily – Amelia and Emily are currently at #1 and #3 in England so they certainly qualify as currently popular. Both names also get both the “royal” and “Georgian” stamp from Princess Amelia (1711-1786), daughter of George II, and Princess Amelia (1783-1810), daughter of George III, who were both called Emily familiarly. Both Amelia and Emily sit really nicely stylistically alongside George and Charlotte.
Sophia – Another name which ticks the boxes of being popular, royal and Georgian. Britain nearly had our own “Queen Sophia I.” Sadly, the heir to the throne, Electress Sophia of Hanover, died weeks before she would have become queen in 1714 making way for her son George I. Princesses with the first or middle name Sophia followed soon after her. Sophia currently ranks at #12.
Eleanor – Eleanor was the royal name extraordinaire back in the Middle Ages, borne by three Queens of England and numerous royal princesses. It also retains a Georgian flavour as the name was popularly used in the 18th century – Princess Amelia (1711-1786) was fully Amelia Sophia Eleanor. The name is #52 in England at the moment and is showing early signs of being on the rise again.
Matilda – Like Eleanor, Matilda was a medieval royal powerhouse. We even (briefly) had our very own ruling Queen Matilda for a while. While it hasn’t been used as a royal first name since the Middle Ages, it has been used as a royal middle name – and a Georgian royal middle name at that – such as for Princess Caroline Matilda (1751-1775) and Princess Sophia Matilda (1777-1848). Matilda is currently #27 in England very close to Charlotte.
Isabella – With three medieval Queens of England and several princesses with the name, Isabella has perfect royal credentials. The down side is that it has not been used as a royal name since the 15th century, but at #8, it ticks the box of being popular, royal and traditional.
Arthur – Arthur is the bookies’ favourite for a boy already and, as with Alice, it’s not hard to see why. If we discount the names currently used by the royal family (Charles, Henry, Edward, William, James etc), then Arthur is the highest ranking of all the royal names left over at #35 in England and rising. Not only is it famous for the legendary King Arthur, we almost had an actual “King Arthur” when Henry VII gave it to his eldest son. Sadly, we were deprived when he died aged 15. Queen Victoria later reintroduced the name to British royalty when she gave it to one of her sons.
Frederick – A Georgian royal name which is another kingly name we never had. Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, was the eldest son and heir of King George II. When he predeceased his father, his son, George III, became king instead. Frederick was also used by several other princes and was the second name of both King George V and King George VI. Frederick currently ranks at #75 in England, but with Freddie at #17, it feels even more current.
Albert – We have Queen Victoria to thank for making Albert a royal British choice. Devoted to her husband, Prince Albert, she was determined that all her “male English descendants” would have the name. She determinedly gave the name to all her sons (first or middle) and pestered all her children to use it as well (most of them complied). She even went as far as to decree that the Prince of Wales’s first son be called Albert Victor even before informing his parents. The last royal to bear Albert as a first name was the Queen’s father, King George VI, but it is also one of Prince Harry’s and Prince Andrew’s middle names. Albert is a fashion-forward choice at the moment – currently #69 in England and on a steep upward curve.
Victoria – Victoria is second of the bookies’ favourites for a girl at the moment, but for me it is a bit of an outlier. Yes, it’s royal – borne by a ruling queen – but as royal names go it’s a relatively modern one and, unlike Charlotte and George, which were popular names in the 18th and 19th century, Victoria was always rare. Even during Queen Victoria’s reign, it was pretty uncommon (usually around #140-170). Having made it into England’s Top 100 in the 1970s, Victoria peaked at #7 in 1984 and declined from that point until it reached #105 in 2006. Since then it has gained a little ground at #88 but has certainly plateaued.
Alexandra – Another of the bookies’ favourites, Alexandra is royal but was only introduced to British royalty when Alexandra of Denmark married Prince Albert Edward (later Edward VII) in 1861. It ranks at #116 and is declining. Given that George has the middle name Alexander, I don’t see them using the feminine form.
Grace – The bookies have Grace as their fifth girls’ name option at 16/1 odds. Here’s the thing, Grace isn’t a British royal name which feels like that would rule it out straight away. Thanks to Grace Kelly (aka Princess Grace of Monaco) it does have a royal slant for many, however. If we ignore the fact that Grace doesn’t have credentials in British royalty, it does tick the boxes of being currently popular (at #14) and it was a popular favourite in the Georgian era. George, Charlotte and Grace – stylistically and historically – do work nicely together.
Henry – Like Grace, Henry is fifth on the bookies’ list for a boy with 16/1 odds. It is perfectly royal, classic and, at #13, currently popular. The only problem is that it breaks the rule of being currently used by the immediate royal family as William’s brother’s name. As he goes exclusively by Harry, however, a Prince Henry wouldn’t cause much confusion for the rest of us, but I feel it may be a little too close for the Cambridges.
Alfred – Alfred the Great was (as his name implies) a notable Anglo-Saxon king. Since then, the name has been also borne by a son of George III, and a son and grandson of Queen Victoria. It ticks the boxes of royal credentials and not being currently “nabbed” by royalty. It ranks at #114 at the moment, however, which feels quite removed from Top 30 favourites George and Charlotte. That said, Alfred is rising and Alfie, at #14, does make Alfred look more modern.
Middle name fodder:
Caroline – Two Georgian queens and three princesses bore the name Caroline. Popularity wise – at #674 – it feels a little out of step with George and Charlotte, but it would be a perfect royal choice to honour Catherine’s mother Carol. If they want to continue the “C. E” tradition for girls, Caroline Emily is a possibility.
Mary – Very sweet, very royal, Mary doesn’t feel “current” enough (at #249) for their taste as a first name, but there is no reason that it won’t make the middle name cut, especially given that the Queen has it as a middle name.
Frances / Francis – Princess Diana’s middle name was Frances and Catherine’s father’s middle name is Francis. Boy or girl, Francis/Frances makes a great middle name option to honour both grandparents.
James – A perfectly kingly name, James feels a little too close to use as a first name (but never say never!). It’s not only the name of Catherine’s brother but also Prince Edward’s son. Who knows, perhaps they will opt for both Henry and James as middle names to honour both paternal and maternal uncle in one fell swoop.
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on September 5th, 2017 at 2:36 am
I’d love to see Alice and/or Arthur!
on September 5th, 2017 at 3:26 am
Emily and Arthur are my favorites.
on September 5th, 2017 at 3:30 am
Well, I’m pretty sure Alice for a girl is for sure. I mean, the bookies got it right for George and Charlotte, so Alice it is, I’m more interested in middle names, my pick is Alice Sophia Grace, just because I feel like the flow is really nice, but looking at it now, it almost feels too…no nonsense for a princess, like it isn’t frilly enough. For a boy I just straight wonder what their gonna do, I know there are some superstitions surounding royal Arthur’s, so I feel like thats unlikely, and maybe its just my preoccupation with Harry Potter but it seems odd to me to have a Frederick when you already have a George, unless it was your intention to name your children after the Weasly twins. So I guess Albert or Alfred? I don’t know, really, we might see something more out of the box from the Royals because none of the boy names mentioned seem really likely to me though, full disclosure I am an American.
on September 5th, 2017 at 3:40 am
I think Alice, Amelia, Arthur, Henry, Theodore and Thomas. I’m thinking Alice Victoria Mary or Henry Edward James – I think they both flow quite nicely.
on September 5th, 2017 at 4:05 am
Albert is out due to Prince Albert (look it up just not on google images). I think Arthur will most likely be the boys name but I could see a little Leopold too. For girls I think Victoria but I would like Gabrielle.
on September 5th, 2017 at 5:43 am
It will be very interesting to see what name they choose for their third, now that all the people who have to be honoured have been, and they can stray away from the expected names.
A little Mary, Anne or Margaret would be wonderful, but I agree it isn’t very likely, as the Duchess definitely has a current taste. But I wonder if we could have a Princess Mary “May”, or a Princess Margaret “Maisie”.
Alice is definitely a very plausible contender for a girl. I think Sophia and Amelia are unlikely, as like most style-conscious upper-class British parents, they will try and avoid names that have been worn out by an extended period of popularity. They are beautiful names, though, and very appropriate, so perhaps they will see past their popularity.
I would be surprised if they were to go for a gushy name like Isabella or Matilda after the trimmer George and Charlotte, but again, it could happen.
Victoria is definitely too much of a royal one-person name, and I don’t think they would want to burden their daughter by tying her to one historical figure.
They might consider Edith and Jane as well, and I wonder if Philippa could be an option.
Their options for a boy seem much more numbered. Albert and Frederick are of course very likely possibilities. Arthur strikes me as a bit too Round Table as a choice for a modern prince, but that’s probably just me. I could see them going for Henry seeing as Prince Harry never uses the name. I’m not so sure about Edward, which is a shame, as it’s stylistically my favourite boy’s name option for them.
on September 5th, 2017 at 8:33 am
Even though I don’t usually like the “expected” choices, I have to say I really like Alice and Arthur.
I also like Henry for a boy, as I think no one associates it with Prince Harry. My second choice for a girl would be Victoria, though in England I wouldn’t like her to have the nn Tori (Tory) 🙂
on September 5th, 2017 at 9:08 am
Out on a limb – I’m going to guess Philip or Philippa.
on September 5th, 2017 at 9:11 am
Although – a couple of royal names that I’d love to have a comeback are Lionel and Cecily.
on September 5th, 2017 at 9:54 am
My first guesses were Alice and Arthur! Both are very buttoned-up, stylistically, and would go well with George and Charlotte!
on September 5th, 2017 at 12:03 pm
I would love to see an Arthur or Alice!
Alice of Battenberg, Phillip’s mum and the new one’s great-great grandmother, was -as stated- a truly phenomenal timeless lady named after her own grandmother, the daughter of Queen Victoria, who was another amazing woman whose charity work lives on today. What wonderful namesakes for a little girl!
on September 5th, 2017 at 1:03 pm
I’d love any of the names on this list!
on September 5th, 2017 at 1:58 pm
It won’t be Philip as long as Prince Philip is still alive, nor do I think they want two Philippas/Pippas in the family. If they didn’t use Henry before, they aren’t going to use it now, either.
Fred and George aren’t exactly uncommon names, there have been millions of brothers named Fred and George before the Weasleys came along, so I see that issue as kind of silly.
Nobody has suggested Richard, but I have a soft spot for it. There is currently a Prince Richard, though, the Queen’s cousin, so that may count it out.
I am rooting for the classic Mary, but I think they’ll use it in the middle spot to honor the Queen, as well as Frances for Diana. Amelia Mary Frances or Alice Mary Frances sounds lovely.
on September 5th, 2017 at 2:03 pm
Alice and Arthur are both excellent and likely choices.
on September 5th, 2017 at 2:05 pm
My first thoughts are Alice or Frederick.
on September 5th, 2017 at 2:14 pm
Arthur Henry Frederik or Alice Victoria Margaret
on September 5th, 2017 at 3:19 pm
Excellent analysis! I agree with pretty much all of this post (I think Alfred is more likely than an outlier, personally). I would LOVE for William and Kate to bring back Eleanor or Isabella, but I really think their name tastes skew more Hanoverian/Windsor. For a girl, Alice, Amelia (but not Emily, unless as a nickname), and Sophia seem most likely to me, and for a boy, Alfred, Arthur, and Frederick. (Although I think a little Prince Philip would be sweet.)
My top choices for them would be Alice Victoria Mary or Arthur Philip Michael.
In other royal baby name news, Prince Carl Philip (middle child of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden) and Princess Sofia of Sweden welcomed their second son last week. His name was announced yesterday as Gabriel Carl Walther. He joins big brother Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil. Furthermore, Carl Philip’s younger sister, Princess Madeleine, and her husband recently announced that they’re expecting their third child. This baby will join big siblings Leonore Lilian Maria and Nicolas Paul Gustaf.
on September 5th, 2017 at 3:41 pm
Leaving aside for the moment Alice, if William & Kate want to continue the tradition of C. E. initials for a girl, either Cecily or Caroline/a w/Eleanor/a would work. I love the soft sound of Cecily w/the same soft sound of Charlotte.
If Alice is the first name, there are lots of combinations that could be made w/it:
Alice Carolina Eleanor
Alice Caroline Eleanora
Alice Carolina OR Eleanora OR Sophia Frances OR Mary
For a boy, there’s already a current Prince Edward (William’s uncle), so I can’t see that as a first-name choice. Theodore just doesn’t sound like British royalty (as much as I like the name). The last two King Richards didn’t have much luck; same w/the only John, so I don’t think those names would be options. Two of Victoria’s sons were Alfred & Arthur, so I’d put more stock in those as potential choices for a first name.
Arthur OR Alfred Henry James
I’m sure we’ll be guessing away until next spring!
Either Philip or Philippa would work as a middle name to honor family members.
on September 5th, 2017 at 5:13 pm
My first thought was Alice Victoria Mary or Alice Isabella Mary. For a boy, Edward, Arthur, or Albert, possibly with middle name Frederick or James.
on September 5th, 2017 at 6:38 pm
I find these predictions pretty spot on based on what we know about the Royal naming style this far.
I am not British but I find Alice very charming and refreshing for a royal name. I imagine a full name like Alice Caroline Victoria or Alice Sophia Frances. I also like the less popular but still classic Eleanor. Eleanor Frances Caroline or Eleanor Amelia Mary would be lovely too.
For a boy, I love Arthur but I don’t know whether it appeals to British taste. Arthur Philip Edward or Arthur James Henry might be nice. Frederick and Alfred seem too German to me. Albert seems like a good possibility: Albert James Philip is quite handsome.
on September 5th, 2017 at 9:02 pm
I’m suspecting Arthur or Oliver for a boy. Definitely Alice for a girl, maybe even Sophie, Adelaide, Matilda or Isabelle.
on September 5th, 2017 at 10:24 pm
I’m leaning towards Alice, Caroline, or Eleanor for a girl as the other choices don’t seem to match their style very well. For a boy Arthur is my personal pick although I feel as though we will most likely be surprised with a boy’s name.
As far as middle names go for a girl my top picks are Victoria and Mary (as well as whatever name from above that they don’t use). For a boy James, Henry, and Albert all seem possible.
My favorite combos are Caroline Victoria Mary and Arthur James Henry
on September 6th, 2017 at 3:35 am
My guesses: Emily Catherine Victoria or Arthur Henry James.
on September 6th, 2017 at 9:03 am
I think Albert and Arthur are definitely very much on the mark for boys. Diana chose her boys names, Charles wanted their first names to be Albert and Arthur, but compromising put them in the middles for William and Harry. (William Arthur Phillip Louis and Henry Charles Albert David).
Arthur Phillip Henry or Alice Mary Victoria are my guesses!
on September 6th, 2017 at 10:23 am
My guesses for the first names aren’t very original, but here we go:
– Alice Caroline Mary
– Eleanor Victoria Mary
– Arthur James Philip
I could also see them using Frances/Francis as a mn.
on September 6th, 2017 at 12:15 pm
What about Adelaide?
on September 6th, 2017 at 2:09 pm
For a girl, I’d say Alice, definitely. For a boy, I have no clue. Arthur or Alfred, I guess.
on September 6th, 2017 at 7:08 pm
I’m definitely putting my money on Alice or Arthur. Maybe Alice Victoria Caroline or Arthur Frederick James? It would be exciting to see something a bit more unexpected like Eloise, Arabella, Florence, Augustus or Vincent, but given that tradition is everything I very highly doubt it.
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on September 6th, 2017 at 10:48 pm
[…] best analysis I’ve read is Elea’s predictions – the top contenders include Alice and Arthur. From everything we know about the royal […]
on September 7th, 2017 at 2:31 am
I would love to see Cecily used. I also like Adelaide. Odds are they’ll continue with another Hanoverian name.
on September 7th, 2017 at 9:24 am
I would also love to Augustus/August used and it wasn’t uncommon among the Hanoverians.
Leopold would be an unexpected, but lovely, choice.
on September 9th, 2017 at 4:58 am
I think they will go for somethhing modern but classic, like they already have done with George and Charlotte. My guesses for first names are the ever-popular guesses Alice or Arthur. I can also see Sophia, Isabel(la), Mary, Eleanor, Matilda, Frances/Francis, Philip, Albert, David, and possibly Victor or Frederick featuring somewhere. Names like Leopold or Augusta I think are very unlikely.
on September 10th, 2017 at 7:45 pm
My personal picks:
Eleanor Margaret Anne or Alice Victoria Frances for a girl. I don’t see them using anything too frilly as a first name even though if that were the case I’d love a little Princess Victoria. I don’t think they will use Caroline as it is derived from Charles, as is Charlotte, so they’re too similar. Margaret was the Queen’s sister and Anne is the Princess Royal; Victoria for Queen Victoria and Frances was Diana’s middle name. Other possible middles: Louise, Sophia, Mary.
Boys are harder. My pick would be Henry Philip Arthur. I think they may go with Henry as a first name, as as a previous commenter said, it’s never really associated with Prince Harry, and the association with King Henry VIII won’t really matter since it’s doubtful this child will ever reign (and the superstition has already been broken by its use for Harry). I doubt it will be James, as the last James was the brother of Charles II and his supporters the Jacobites tried to remove the ancestors of the current royal family from the throne – as well as the first King James being a Scottish king. I also do believe the royals have a superstition about giving direct male descendants Arthur as a first name but it has been used for William and Charles as a middle, as well as the Queen’s father King George VI, so is likely there.
I also don’t think it would be Charles, Edward or Andrew as those are close living relatives but they are all possibilities for a middle. I think they will use Philip for one of the middles as it would honour not only Prince Philip but the Duchess’ sister Philippa.
I can only say I sort of hope they have a girl so they have some more freedom in naming her! There doesn’t seem to be too many options for a little Prince.
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on September 20th, 2017 at 10:47 pm
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on September 30th, 2017 at 7:50 pm
An excellent analysis Elea.
I guess I’m in the minority group who think they won’t use Alice for a girl’s first name – it is in keeping with their style but remember when Catherine was pregnant with Charlotte, Alice was the bookies #1 girls name until the last minute (after Charlotte’s birth was announced, one of the main betting sites – I believe it was “Paddy Power” but I could be mis-remembering – suddenly slashed the odds on Charlotte to make it the new #1. Rumour was that someone leaked). Given that Alice was originally #1 favourite last time, but the Cambridges didn’t use it, my thinking is that they won’t use it this time either (I see it as a potential middle name though).
My favourite first names for a new princess are Eleanor, Helena & Adelaide with favourite for them actually being more of a “wild card” – Emma. It has royal usage, complements the names George & Charlotte, and isn’t in usage in the immediate British royal family. That being said, it hasn’t been used within the (immediate) British royal family for centuries (but neither had Charlotte).
For girls middle names, I think Carole/Caroline, Adelaide, Marie & Rose (the Queen’s sister was Margaret Rose). I think Frances is also possible, but I secretly hope that the name is being “saved” for Prince Harry to use for a (as yet, hypothetical) daughter, so that each brother has a daughter named after their mother.
Using Catherine as a middle name could be a possibility as well – it seems to be popular in historic royal circles for second/subsequent daughters to be given their mother’s first name in the middle spot. Modern examples would be Princess Diana (third born daughter) – her middle name Frances was her mother’s first name, and the middle name of Catherine’s sister is a variant of her mother’s.
Wild card middles: Dorothy – Catherine’s maternal grandmother. May – acedotely, I am always hearing (in England) May/Mae being used as a middle middle for young children (<5 yrs old). Due to the Cambridges pattern for popularish names, I think it could be a contender, plus it is a demuative for Margaret & Mary (but would the association to the current PM be bothersome?).
Now my predictions for a prince… Gosh this is a hard one (so then you just *know* it will be a boy)!
I think Richard & John are the most likely contenders. I think Frederick fits the Cambridges naming style more, but when put next to George & Charlotte, it just seems too long. I think Arthur is a strong contender.
I would be surprised if neither Michael or Philip are used as a middle name. Other middle names that I think might be considered are Peter (Catherine's grandfather who co-piloted with Prince Philip) Christian and David. Francis too, but see Frances above.
Wild card for either first or middle: Anthony/Antony (middle name of Prince Edward).
I'm just going to put Edwin out there as well. How brilliant would a Prince Edwin be? George, Charlotte & Edwin. No?
I've found predicting a new prince's name to be quite hard! As Elea said, most names that could be used, already are being used.
Names that I would be surprised to see in the first spot are: Charles, Edward, Andrew, Philip, James, Henry, William & Alexander.
My predictions for the new prince or princess's full name are:
– Emma Adelaide May
– Emma Catherine Rose
– Emma Alice Dorothy
(Guess what I really want a royal daughter to be called)
– Richard Arthur Michael
– John Arthur Philip
And because I really wish it to come true
– Edwin Richard Michael
Everyone's predictions are so fancinating!
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