What’s in a royal name? Lots of tradition

LONDON (AP) — When it comes to the royal baby, choosing just one name won’t do. You need about three or four.

Just ask the father, William Arthur Philip Louis. Or the grandfather, Charles Philip Arthur George. Or the great-grandmother, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.

“I think because the child is going to be the third in line to the throne, they have to maintain all this tradition,” said Pauline MacLaran, a professor of marketing and consumer research at Royal Holloway and the co-author of the upcoming book, “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture.”

“They’ll go for three or four names and … be able to make the right nod to the right people,” she said.

And it can’t just be any old moniker, either. It has to have some gravitas: Noble names are steeped in history, which explains why thousands of bets have rolled in to British bookmakers for Alexandra and James.

Alexandra appears to be a good bet. It’s the name of Queen Elizabeth II’s great-grandmother, a Danish princess who married Edward VII. And the queen’s name includes Alexandra, as well as Mary, her grandmother. James and George are big choices on the male side — as there’s strong precedent of kings of that name.

Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA and an expert on names, firmly voted for James — which far outdistanced George in the popularity stakes.

“Names make impressions, good and bad,” he said. “Among all the names I’ve studied, James rated the highest.”

Mary was among the top rated for girls, though Alexandra also scored well, he said.

MacLaran is betting against a girl having the first name of Diana — even though Prince William has been eager to include his beloved mother in other aspects of his marriage to Kate. He gave her Diana’s engagement ring.

MacLaran said that giving a girl her late grandmother’s name would constitute an undue burden because the public and media would constantly compare her to the glamorous late princess.

“That would be a lot of baggage on the child,” she said. “They wouldn’t want that.”

She said one of the secondary names might be Diana, as that would give the young princess a nod to her ancestors.

The name can also take on cultural significance. Arthur, the middle names of both Prince Charles and Prince William, evokes the legendary King Arthur and tales of chivalry — a favorite theme ingrained in British literature.

Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936, was christened Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David — the last four were patron saints of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales respectively.

The public may have to wait, though. It is not uncommon for the palace to take its time to choose just the right name.

But is it possible that William and the former Kate Middleton might break with tradition and call their child something trendy and unexpected? The grandchildren of Princess Anne, the queen’s only daughter, are called Savannah and Isla.

But those closer to the throne normally don’t have such freedom.

“They’ll try and choose something that reflects tradition acceptable to their peer group — like Charlotte, which can be shortened to Charlie,” MacLaran said. “It won’t be any kind of celebrity name — like Tiger Lily.”

That probably also excludes John Paul George Ringo.

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