An avid collector of names, I recently found myself interested, for once, in news about England’s royal family.
When hours and then days passed before the name of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s newborn son was announced, I couldn’t help but think about how much pressure must go into naming the future King of England—and speculate that the chosen appellation was bound to be impressive.
Earlier today, official sources reported that the noble infant’s name is George Alexander Louis. But you can call him His Royal Highness Prince George Cambridge. For now. Eventually, he’ll be King George.Now where have I heard that name before?
Well, for starters Great Britain has churned out six King Georges going back as far as 18th century. Worldwide, there have been at least twenty-nine King Georges, including a dozen from Georgia (go figure). With the U.K.’s recent royal birth, we’ll likely see an even thirty in the years to come.
In hindsight, it was foolish of me to expect anything except a conservative and traditional name for the future monarch. I can’t pretend to know the vetting process for princely names, but something tells me the Queen Mother would have vetoed “Prince Xander” or (gasp!) “Prince Gunner.”
Besides, the top boys’ names—particularly, the top ten—announced annually tend to be pretty predictable and old-fashioned. Odds are we were going to see a John or James or George being carried out of that London hospital for his first press appearance.
Despite my disappointment in the common first name, I can’t criticize the royal family for their choice. Picking a name for any baby can be a daunting task. So many connotations. So many possible consequences.
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Anyway, George Alexander Louis is better than what USA TODAY’s Royal Name Generator was coming up with. (For the record, my initials somehow yielded “Prince Jeremiah Von Frankenstein.”)
Any dabbler in sword-and-sorcery fantasy has faced the challenge of naming a king or two. Back when I was world-building for my Renegade Chronicles novels, I delved deep into the histories of various countries and came up with a score of sovereigns (and even one pirate king). And while the more “modern” monarchs bore respectable names like Eliot and Edward, there were some doozies from farther back, such as:
- Zebulon, the Emperor of Nebronem
- Qart’kahn, Chieftain of Clan Qaarm
- Prince Moorach of the Oaken Kingdom
- Memndrake Superior (aka The Gambler King)
- King Fauntio Feldagne V
Far be it for me to disparage other namers of kings.
Nevertheless, the concept of royalty is one of few medieval traditions that have survived to present day—outside of conventions we writers preserve in fairy stories and other fantastic tales. One could have hoped for a name with a little more…well…whimsy.
Then again, saddling a character (however, well-developed) with the baggage of an unusual name is one thing; doing the same to a living soul is something else. To christen an actual baby with an alliterative nightmare like Fauntio Feldagne V is akin to child abuse.
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