Last week I examined how babies have been named in the House of Windsor, with a look at the factors common to the names of those close to the throne. By following those methods used in the past, I looked at names that could be considered for a brother for Prince George.
In case you can’t be bothered reading the whole post, the basic thing to keep in mind is: names of royals (kings, queens, princes, and princesses) that are currently popular. Now it’s time to look at what a possible sister to Prince George could be called.
There have been several princesses named Elizabeth, five British queens, and one queen of Scotland named Elizabeth; of course Elizabeth II is the current monarch, and her mother’s name was Elizabeth too. Elizabeth is also the middle name of the duchess. Current gossip says that Elizabeth is the name that the Duke and Duchess have already chosen for their baby, should they have a girl, and gained permission from the queen. As 2015 is the year that Queen Elizabeth is set to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history, it would seem like the perfect gesture, especially if the baby arrives on Queen Elizabeth’s birthday. A cute connection is that Lily could be used as the nickname, which is one of Catherine’s favourite flowers.
My rating: nine coronets
A name introduced to the royal family by Queen Victoria, there have been four princesses named Alice. The most recent was an aunt of Queen Elizabeth, who was married to the Governor-General of Australia, and lived here for two years after World War II. She reached the greatest age of anyone yet in the British royal family, passing away at the age of 102. Another was Alice of Battenberg, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria who married into the Greek royal family, and became the mother of Prince Philip. Alice is one of Princess Anne’s middle names, and it is also a prominent name in the Spencer family, as Alice Spencer was a patron of the arts. And don’t George and Alice sound adorable together? No wonder this has often been tipped as a possibility.
My rating: eight and a half coronets
This only became a British royal name with the accession of the teenaged Alexandrina, who used her middle name to rule as Queen Victoria. The last of the Hanoverians, the longest-reigning British monarch so far, and a powerful symbol of the British Empire, Victoria is an eminently suitable royal name which has been handed down to seven princesses – Queen Victoria’s mother was another Princess Victoria. In fact, Alice of Battenberg’s first name was Victoria, making this another possibility to honour the mother of Prince Philip. A popular choice with the bookies, Victoria is said to be one of Catherine’s favourite names (more gossip!). The timing is perhaps not as good as for Elizabeth, with the queen set to overtake Queen Victoria’s record reign next year.
My rating: eight coronets
This name was introduced to English royalty by Eleanor of Aquitaine, a wealthy, powerful French duchess who married Henry II, and was the mother of two kings – Richard I, and King John. Other medieval Eleanors married English kings, and the name was handed down to multiple princesses. This seems a very suitable name for a princess; elegant and restrained with an impeccable royal pedigree. It’s the name of one of Prince William’s Spencer cousins, which isn’t necessarily a drawback – all three of Prince George’s names are shared with Spencer cousins.
My rating: seven and a half coronets
There have been two British princesses named Amelia – one a daughter of George II, and the other a daughter of George III. The latter Amelia (called Emily) was beautiful and charming, and great hopes for held for her future, but unfortunately she died of measles, and her death devastated the royal family, helping to precipitate her father into madness. There is an Amelia in the Windsor family, a grand-daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and one in the Spencer family as well, a cousin of Princes William and Harry, who is considered rather “wild”. There is no historical reason a #1 name would be rejected (the queen’s sister Princess Margaret had the #1 name of her era), and Amelia is in with a genuine chance, although it may come with some baggage.
My rating: six coronets
This is a truly royal name, because Sophia of Hanover was the mother of King George I, and to be in the line of succession to the British throne, you must be a direct descendant of Sophia. There has been a queen named Sophia (George I’s wife), and three princesses, with the most recent being born in the 18th century. Sophia has been used as a middle name in the royal family fairly often, although I think George and Sophia as royal siblings are a bit much.
My rating: five coronets
Queen Alexandra was the wife of Edward VIII; a Danish princess by birth, she was elegant, fashionable, and extremely popular with the British public. There have been a number of princesses named Alexandra, including ones still living – a notable example is Princess Alexandra, who is a cousin of the queen, and one of the most active members of the royal family. It’s a popular royal middle name, and the queen herself has Alexandra as one of her middle names. To me this would be a slightly odd choice, as Alexander is one of Prince George’s middle names
My rating: four coronets
This is a name from Prince Philip’s family, because Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark was the Duke of Edinburgh’s sister. Another family connection is that Prince Edward’s wife is named Sophie, and she has reportedly been a good friend to Catherine, as well as a favourite of Queen Elizabeth. Despite not being a name of a British queen or princess, I don’t think Sophie can be entirely ruled out.
My rating: three coronets
Queen Charlotte was the wife of George III, and there have been two Princess Charlottes in the British royal family named after her. The last one was Princess Charlotte of Wales, who died young in childbirth, deeply mourned by the public, who had hoped she would one day be queen. Although not used for a princess since, Charlotte is in use as a middle name in the current royal family. Charles Spencer, brother to Diana, Princess of Wales, has a very young daughter named Charlotte Diana, so a bit awkward to use it if the duke and duchess also want Diana as the middle name. Although the name could seem like a nod to Prince Charles, so far the royal family has not used feminised forms of male names to honour men. Charlotte is also the middle name of Pippa Middleton, sister to the duchess; although some people think this makes the name more likely, to me it makes it less likely, because the royals probably don’t want the name to seem as if it is honouring a commoner in-law.
My rating: two coronets
This was a reasonably common royal name in the Middle Ages, introduced by a beautiful French countess who married King John. Another beautiful queen was the Isabella who married King Edward III; a French princess, she became known as The She-Wolf of France for her intrigues against her husband, which led to him being deposed, and their son Edward III becoming king. For ever after, she has been viewed as a femme fatale figure. This name has also been used in the Spencer family, but its wolfish image is problematic. I think it’s too ornate for a British princess, and the Twilight connection probably isn’t a help.
My rating: one coronet
This name goes right back the beginning of English royalty, because Matilda of Flanders was the wife of William the Conqueror. There have been three other medieval English queens named Matilda, and one princess who became the Empress Matilda and claimed the English throne during a period of anarchy – she was never proclaimed queen, but rather Lady of the English, and her son was made king when he was old enough. In more modern times, Matilda has been used as a middle name within the royal family. This name would greatly please the royal family’s Australian subjects, although I can’t think of any reason why they would particularly want to please us, unless that toy bilby we gave Prince George was a bigger hit than it seemed at the time. I can’t say this is impossible, but it doesn’t seem at all likely.
My rating: one coronet
This royal name pre-dates the Norman Conquest, because Emma of Normandy married both Ethelred the Unready and Cnut the Great, and was the mother of Edward the Confessor, once regarded as a patron saint of England. She was the first English queen to have a portrait, and was both rich and influential. Despite being way, way back, she is an ancestor of the current royal family. However, I do think this is just too mists-of-timey.
My rating: half a coronet
Edith was a common royal name in Anglo-Saxon times, and one princess named Edith was a saint. Edith of Essex was the wife of Edward the Confessor, and highly influential. While this is very ancient history, Matilda of Scotland, who married Henry II and was the mother of the Empress Matilda, was baptised Edith, only receiving the Norman name Matilda upon her marriage to a Norman king. Although she was a stand-out queen, and the link between modern royalty and the Anglo-Saxon kings, this is a pretty flimsy connection, and regrettably it seems most unlikely, although personally I would love it. So English, so regal, so refined, and quite a fashionable name to boot.
My rating: half a coronet
Maria d’Este was an Italian princess who became queen through marrying James II, but she was known as Queen Mary in England until her husband fled to France during the Glorious Revolution. Too foreign.
My rating: zero coronets
This has a long, if sparing, use as a royal name. Beatrice of England was the daughter of Henry III, while Queen Victoria had both a daughter and a grand-daughter called Princess Beatrice. It’s currently in use by Princess Beatrice of York, Prince William’s cousin, and her name was considered an unusual choice at the time. As she is the daughter of the controversial Prince Andrew, I don’t think this is in with any sort of chance.
My rating: zero coronets
Unlike the potential princely names, which had no glaringly obvious choice, there are some very clear winners for a princess. I am tipping Elizabeth, Alice, or Victoria, with some chance of Eleanor or Amelia, and Sophia as an outsider. With solid options on the girls’ list, I can’t see any reason why the royals would need to look beyond it, and feel pretty confident one of the names in this post will be used.
UPDATE: The royal baby was a princess named Charlotte!
People’s favourite choices for a princess were Alice, Victoria, and Eleanor. 10% of people voted for Elizabeth, and 9% voted for Charlotte, the next two most popular choices. Nobody voted for the names Sophie or Maria. 3% of people felt that the royal couple would start a new trend in baby names, which was very far from happening – the chosen name fits in well with all the historical naming patterns identified in the articles.
(Picture shows a photo of Queen Elizabeth II as a very young child – could there soon be another Princess Elizabeth in the House of Windsor?)