The Rules Of Naming A Royal Baby

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 
ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Chris Jackson/Getty Images

There’s a new royal baby on the way (squeeee!) and some of us (raises hand) are a little excited about it. Not everyone may share in the enthusiasm, but if you’re a fan of the British royal family, you’re probably already anticipating right alongside Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Will the new little royal have Meghan’s freckles or Dad’s ginger hair?

But most importantly: What name will Meghan and Harry choose?

Unlike we regular folk, royals can’t just choose baby names by scoping out an online name database or thumbing through a book. The future Earl of Dumbarton or Lady Mountbatten-Windsor (the new baby’s official title) probably won’t be named Kellan or Kassidy. There are a lot more criteria a royal baby name must meet than simply “do we like this name or not?”

First, history and tradition. Royal options consist of a shortlist of names that pay homage to past monarchs. For example, Prince George’s name, George Alexander Louis, is a tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI; the Queen herself, whose middle name (well, one of them anyway) is Alexandra; and little George’s own father, who is William Arthur Philip Louis.

When Kate Middleton was pregnant with Princess Charlotte in 2015, the front-runners for girls’ names were Charlotte, Diana, and Elizabeth – and what do you know, they chose Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. However, some of the contemporary generations of royals have shown a bit more naming flexibility. Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter is Zara Anne Elizabeth, and Zara’s daughter is Mia Grace, which shows that not every royal name has been around since … well, forever.

That’s probably due to the second criteria: relevancy and relatability. The name the royals choose must reflect their awareness of the world around them – not some stuffy, snooty-sounding, out-of-touch moniker, but something that walks the line between traditional and current.

This isn’t difficult, considering that any names the royal family use automatically become trendier. Harry and Meghan could name their baby Latte and there’d be a sudden rush of Lattes unseen since the kickoff of pumpkin spice season at Starbucks.

It’s called the “royal effect,” and it’s so profound that even the names royals don’t choose tend to experience an international surge in popularity. Alice and Arthur, two consistent top bets for royal babies, have advanced higher on the charts — even in the United States. In 2012, the year before Prince George was born, the name Arthur was ranked #355; at last count, it’s #244. The same year, Alice ranked #127, and its most recent ranking is #70. Since even the unused names become increasingly popular, it’s easy to see why the names royal families do choose tend to skyrocket.

The third criteria for royal baby naming? The Queen’s approval. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule; although Queen Elizabeth is definitely informed of the name choice prior to the birth, she seems to allow her descendants free reign (no pun intended) when it comes to naming. However, if the Queen were to dislike a name, let’s just say it probably wouldn’t make the cut.

This time around, Alice is still the favorite among bookies for girls (the odds are currently 5/2), but Alexander is the frontrunner for boys (2/1 odds), according to private British bookmaking firm Fitzdares. However, since the new royal baby will be 7th in line for the throne and therefore unlikely to head up the monarchy, Meghan and Harry have a lesser obligation to adhere to a traditional choice. And if the diversity of their wedding was any indication, Meghan will probably infuse some of her own flavor and cultural heritage into her son or daughter’s name.

Anyway, whether the new royal baby’s name is inspired by medieval monarchs or pop culture (or both, if they choose something from “Game of Thrones” – Khaleesi, anyone?), there’s one thing we can count on: The name will, at some point, be followed by “get your finger out of your nose!” Because royals or not, kids are still kids. And the bookies can take that to the bank.

Need help naming your own little prince or princess? Browse the Scary Mommy baby name database!

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