FYI

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

What’s in a name?

  • Print

KATE Middleton, now known as the Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant. Upon the baby’s birth, he or she will be third in line to the British throne, behind princes Charles and William. Speculation has already begun about the child’s name, which will likely be something traditional, in part because historians will look back on the name for centuries. Is the baby stuck with whatever name William and Kate pick?

No. The name by which a king or queen identifies is called the "regnal name," and it need not be his or her birth name. Over the past two centuries, it has become increasingly common for British monarchs to drop their first names upon coronation. Queen Victoria, for example, used her middle name as her regnal name when she ascended to the throne in 1837, rather than Alexandrina, her first name. There was little controversy to the choice: Her family had called her Victoria since childhood.

Related Items

The controlling Victoria named her first son Albert after her husband, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She also declared her wish that every successive monarch take either Albert or Victoria for a regnal name. When Albert had a son, Queen Victoria demanded he be named Albert Victor and he include both names in his regnal name. Although Albert Victor’s parents called him Eddy, the Queen insisted on using his birth name. (He died before his father and never ascended the throne.) Victoria’s demands backfired. Her son rebelled upon his ascension to the throne and took his middle name as his regnal name, becoming Edward VII. Edward’s second son, George V, dropped the remnants of Prince Albert’s name from the family records and changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor when British sentiment turned against Germany around the time of World War I. The last man in the British line of direct succession named Albert or Victor was George V’s brother and Victoria’s grandson; he also decided not to use his birth name when he became King George VI in 1936.

The prerogative to choose a regnal name extends beyond England. King Robert III took his father’s name when he assumed the Scottish throne in 1390 rather than his first name, John. (The last King John of Scotland, John Balliol, presided over a disastrous reign, and his successors avoided any connection to him.) The papal name is a form of regnal name, with many popes over the past millennium choosing names for symbolic reasons.

 

— Slate

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.