New prince’s names loaded with sig­nif­i­cance

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PEOPLE - ROBERT HARDMAN

TRA­DI­TIONAL, loyal, re­spect­ful but with a mod­ern touch. That cer­tainly sums up the choice of Ge­orge Alexan­der Louis. But it is also a pretty good de­scrip­tion of the par­ents who chose th­ese names.

In do­ing so, the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge have told us rather more about them­selves than their young prince. It goes with­out say­ing that the cou­ple gen­uinely like th­ese names. No one has forced or even prod­ded them. All are firm favourites in the cur­rent aristo/Sloane canon of boys’ names.

Though none comes as a great sur­prise, each is still in­ter­est­ing. For royal names come loaded with sig­nif­i­cance. And none stands out more than Alexan­der. It is said that this was a par­tic­u­lar favourite of the duchess. Since his­tory, prece­dence and Prince Wil­liam’s po­si­tion were al­ways go­ing to weigh heav­ily on the choice of first name, she could have a greater say over the sec­ond.

And among the cou­ple’s cir­cle of friends, there are plenty of Alexan­ders. Alexan­dra had cer­tainly been the book­ies’ favourite in the event of a girl. For the fe­male ver­sion has a long and il­lus­tri­ous prove­nance.

Queen Alexan­dra was the con­sort of Ed­ward VII. It is also the sec­ond name of the queen. Less well-known is the fact that Alexan­d­rina was Queen Vic­to­ria’s first name. Un­til her reign, monar­chs would stick with the name they were given at birth. But she pre­ferred Vic­to­ria, her sec­ond name. Oth­er­wise, we would never have ended up with the Vic­to­rian age. To­day, we would talk about Alexan­drine ( or Alexan­drinian?) val­ues, Alexan­drine ar­chi­tec­ture… it doesn’t ex­actly trip off the tongue.

The near­est Alexan­der is Prince Wil­liam’s low-pro­file cousin, the Earl of Ul­ster, 38-year-old ex-sol­dier and heir to the Duke of Glouces­ter. Go­ing fur­ther back, the queen’s great-great­grand­fa­ther – via Queen Mary – was Duke Alexan­der of Wur­rtem­burg.

But the choice be­comes much more sig­nif­i­cant in a geo-po­lit­i­cal con­text. In the­ory, the baby prince will in­herit the throne of the United King­dom, though that unity is un­der threat as never be­fore with next year’s referendum on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence. Scot­land means a huge amount to the royal fam­ily – far more than is gen­er­ally imag­ined. It was also in Scot­land that the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge met. So a Scot­tish name was not merely a pos­si­bil­ity, but more of an es­sen­tial. And Scot­land has had three King Alexan­ders.

As for Louis, that is surely a bow to both the baby’s grand­fa­ther and great- grand­fa­ther. Prince Wil­liam him­self was given the name Louis in hon­our of Prince Charles’s adored un­cle, Lord Louis (later Earl) Mount­bat­ten. He, in turn, had been named af­ter Prince Louis of Bat­ten­berg, Prince Philip’s grand­fa­ther.

Then we come to Ge­orge. This child will never need any ad­di­tional in­tro­duc­tion. We now live in a world which in­creas­ingly op­er­ates on first­name terms. The royal fam­ily may not have gone down the “Call me Tony” route, but, to much of the world, they are sim­ply Charles, Camilla, Wil­liam, Kate, Harry…

Even our best-known Ge­orges – Os­borne, Michael, Clooney – still need a sur­name. Ge­orge Cam­bridge never will. There can be lit­tle doubt whom the young cou­ple had up­per­most in their minds when they were pick­ing this one. Ge­orge V, founder of the House of Wind­sor, was the queen’s adored “Grandpa Eng­land”. Ge­orge VI was the beloved fa­ther in whose im­age she has shaped so much of her reign. I think we can as­sume that she flies off to Scot­land even more proud and happy that Bri­tain can now look for­ward to Ge­orge VII. – Daily Mail

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