EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

July 25, 2013

Column: Time for the royal family to stop recycling names

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, having successfully delivered an heir third in line to the British throne, now face the problem of picking a name. It is a choice fraught with considerations of protocol, diplomacy and history.

Unlike new parents in the United States, William and Kate have limited choices. Not for them are the names that showbiz types choose to inflict on their offspring — Dweezil Zappa, Frank’s son; or North West, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby boy.

Nor is choosing from the list of most-popular baby names an option. According to BabyCenter.com, the three most popular boys’ names so far this year are Liam, Noah and Mason. King Mason? Really?

One U.S. website lists, in terms of the number of search queries, the fifth-most-popular name as Mo. You can imagine how well that would work out.

The royal family tends to cover its bets by giving baby heirs a lot of names. This baby’s father is William Arthur Philip Louis. His father, first in line to the throne, is Charles Philip Arthur George.

As it stands, the royal family has a limited number of first names to work with. Since William the Conqueror in 1066, the royals have chosen to play it rather safe in the matter of first names: William, of course; Henry, eight of them; Edward, eight of them, too; George, six of them; and noncontroversial monarchial monikers like Richard, James and Charles — not to mention two Elizabeths.

For original names, the Duke and Duchess should look further back in English history to Aethelstan, Eadred, Eadwig and Edgar the Peaceful, followed, perhaps predictably, by Edgar the Martyr. Aethelred the Unready is unsuitable for obvious reasons, but it’s still a great name.

About this time, England received a great leavening of Danes, who conquered quite a bit of the country, but the simple fact is that the names Sweyn Forkbeard and Harald Harefoot are not going to fly with the British public.

Whatever he’s christened, we wish the baby a long, peaceful and prosperous reign, not the least because on his mother’s side he comes from a line of refreshingly normal people.

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Dale McFeatters writes for the Scripps Howard News Service.

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