Royal Baby Names: The Newest Princes and Princesses
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.
Other royal names seem to reflect current trends. I wonder if Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, put her foot down when it came to naming her daughter. She had little choice in the naming of her firstborn, Prince Christian, since the Danes use only two names for rulers and crown princes. Since her husband is named Frederik, his firstborn son had to be named Christian. That’s the way the Danish royals have done it for hundreds of years. Her son Christian‘s own firstborn son, if he has one, will be named Frederik.
But when her second child, born less than two years later, was a girl, her name was not the expected Ingrid or Dagmar or Margarethe or Thorhildur or Thyra or Alexandrine. No, it was Isabella, a name that some royal watchers grumbled was not at all traditional. Her parents saved face by announcing that Isabella was named in honor of a 16th century queen somewhere on the family tree. My guess is that Princess Mary didn’t want to name her daughter Thorhildur (or something equally stodgy) and they looked for the namesake after they already picked a popular name.
Princess Isabella will share her first name with little girls all over the world, including in her mother’s native Australia and in Denmark, where it was the 21st most popular name given to girls in 2006, the year before she was born. Isabella shot up the Danish charts to ninth place by 2009, probably thanks to the “Twilight” movies and books but also to pictures of the adorable Isabella and the rest of the royal family.
Other royals fall back on tradition. The little Spanish Infanta Leonor‘s little sister was named Sofía after her grandmother the queen, because the queen had been such a help to her daughter-in-law while she was adjusting to her new role as a royal. Likewise, little Princess Isabella‘s new cousin is named Prince Henrik after his grandfather the prince consort.
In France, Jean Charles Pierre Marie, Duc de Vendôme, a member of one of two branches of a family that both claim the throne of France, and his wife Philomena, recently named their son and heir Gaston, a name that produced guffaws on the royal watchers message boards. I gather Gaston Lagaffe is a ridiculous comic strip character in France and Belgium. The effect would be a little like an American naming his son Urkel. But Gaston is also a traditional French royal name and it seems the parents cared more about tradition than looking ridiculous.
The names chosen for other recently-born children throughout Europe are an interesting sampling of the traditional and the unique. Some of the royal cousins of the children already mentioned are named, in order of their ages:
Andrea is an education reporter for a daily newspaper who has had a lifelong fascination with names. She also enjoys history, including that of royal families in Europe. She has no children but does have two very well-named cats, Archie and Agatha, and enjoys spending time with her young nephews.
Related links, for you royal watchers:
The Royal Forums, a forum devoted to discussions of historical and present-day royal families.
An Online Gotha, a site with family trees for different branches of present-day royalty and descendants of past royalty.
Alexander Palace, a site devoted to the discussion of the Romanov family but also to other European royals.
About the author
View all of 's articles
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on April 21st, 2010 at 4:37 am
Great post! Though I don’t think the British Royal family is quite as predictable as you say – Beatrice and Eugenie were quite a surprising choice at the time!
I especially love the names chosen by the Belgian Royal family – Elisabeth, Gabriel, Emmanuel and Eleonore are gorgeous in their own right and make a lovely sib set too.
on April 21st, 2010 at 7:59 am
My favourite baby names, as a whole, are influenced by history and also from the British Royal Family.
However, they’re some that are not. In reading this post I’ve realized that some of my favourite girls names (Isabella, Amelia etc) are influenced by other Royal Families around the world! Many Thanks!
on April 21st, 2010 at 8:34 am
Isabella is pretty royal to me, but also a predictable and dull choice. I would have been far more excited to see a Thorhildur.
I love Arrietta. I wonder where that stems from.
on April 21st, 2010 at 8:44 am
Thanks, Rachel. I agree that Beatrice and Eugenie were pretty unusual at the time but they’re still traditional since they were both used by the British royal family before. Beatrice was one of Queen Victoria’s daughters and Eugenie was one the names of Beatrice’s daughter Victoria Eugenie, who became a queen of Spain. They tend to pick names that have been used before. Edward’s daughter Louise also has a name that has been used before several times on the family tree.
From what I’ve read, Arrietta was used in reference to an Italian aria and would mean “little aria” or “little song” since etta is the diminutive. She’s the daughter of Princess Alexia of Greece, who married a Spaniard and lives in Spain. Her siblings are Ana-Maria (named for her maternal grandmother), Carlos (named for his father) and Amelia.
on April 21st, 2010 at 1:25 pm
Thank you Andrea for the informative post. I find the variety of European royal names so interesting. My favorite names on this list are Zaria and Amadeo.
on April 21st, 2010 at 2:44 pm
Thanks for the info Andrea 🙂
on April 21st, 2010 at 7:25 pm
While I do love Beatrice and Eugenie, the Norwegian names as a whole were my favorites. Ingrid and Isadora are fabulous!
on April 21st, 2010 at 9:35 pm
I like Ingrid too. The Norwegians pronounce it more like Ing-gree, which seems prettier. Sverre is, I think, more like Svyeh-rruh, but the prince is usually called just Magnus. Ingrid seems to be on the rise as a name in the Scandinavian countries and Princess Ingrid is a very cute 6-year-old, which probably adds to the name’s appeal. Their cousin Maud was named after their great-grandmother Queen Maud, who was a granddaughter of England’s Queen Victoria. Her sister Leah (probably pronounced Lay-uh) has a name apparently inspired by Princess Leia from Star Wars. I’m not sure where Isadora came from, but Princess Martha Louise and her husband are both authors/artistic types and I always thought their name choices reflected that.
on April 21st, 2010 at 11:17 pm
Great post, so glad other countries were included. I enjoy learning about them all but I was interested in how the Danes and the Dutch do their naming…really cool about the crown princes!
on May 6th, 2010 at 11:02 am
Love the name Isabella..we r thinking of using it for our daughter.
MIDWESTERN BABY NAMES: What’s heading north in North Dakota? – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Said
on May 24th, 2010 at 12:31 am
[…] intelligent and thoughtful advice on our message boards, and who most recently blogged for us on royal baby names, now focuses her attention closer to home, with this report on naming trends in the […]
on May 24th, 2010 at 4:56 pm
I love a good majority of these names, and wonder if I was maybe European in a past life.
on July 8th, 2010 at 12:35 am
What about Zara, the name of Princess Anne’s daughter? That seems left field to me.
What’s In A Name? So Many Choices, Only One Winner | SpanglishBaby™ Said
on November 28th, 2012 at 3:01 am
[…] With the first one, once my husband and I found out we were having a girl, it made one part of our baby naming job easier. Her middle name would be the same as mine, Leonor, which is also my mother and grandmother’s name. Now that I’m an adult, I absolutely cherish this name, but truth be told, as a kid, I despised this name. It felt so old-fashioned. But that’s exactly why I love the name now, and the fact that it was passed on to me makes me feel more connected to my family and my roots. I think of my great-grandparents, and what they must have been thinking when they gave this name to my grandmother. Of course, it’s also kind of cool that in recent years, la Infanta Leonor of Spain brought the name back in vogue, and other variations of the name have become a popular choice in naming the newest little princesas of Europe. […]
on October 5th, 2013 at 4:35 pm
I absolutely love the name Leonor. I feel like I could never actually use it on a real kid, but I do love it. It’s Spanish ties especially strike me, yet it’s not a name you would instantly recognize as being Spanish.
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.