• November 26, 2014

What’s in a royal name? Lots of tradition

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Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 4:30 am

LONDON — 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 rolled in to British bookmakers for Alexandra and James.

James and George are big choices — 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.”

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.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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