There’s no disputing the power, tradition and majesty of royal baby names. Recently Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, named their son George Alexander Louis. In America, the royal babe might have been called simply Prince, or Eight Six (for his birth weight). Inspired by his birth, we draw inspiration from popular monarchs and namesakes throughout history for your heir.
St. George is the dragon-slaying patron saint of England, but the name actually has Greek origins. Georgios is a combination of ge, meaning “earth” and ergein, “to work.” It’s a fitting name for Britain’s newest heir, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge, who is third in line to the throne after his father and grandfather. Prince George shares his name with six British monarchs, a Beatle (George Harrison), a champion boxer (George Foreman), the first American President (George Washington), a beloved children’s character (Curious George), and Seinfeld’s George Costanza.
Now, crown this! The royal baby’s most important namesake and predecessor, however, is George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. In real life, George VI was born Albert. Bertie, as he was known to his family, famously overcame his stuttering to rally the country during World War II. He was portrayed by Colin Firth in the 2010 film, The King’s Speech. Star Trek actor George Takei was also named after George VI.
Meaning: defender of mankind
This name goes waaaay back…to the 4th century, BC. The conqueror Alexander the Great was followed by three emperors, numerous kings and saints, and eight popes. Other distinguished Alexanders include Founding Father and American statesman Alexander Hamilton and Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell.
Now, crown this! Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts named their son, Alexander Pete, but call him Sasha. Other variants of Alexander include Alex, Xander, Zander, and Alessandro. Alexander Skarsgard is a well-known actor.
Meaning: famous warrior
Louis is the French form of Ludwig, derived with Lud meaning “glory and fame” and wig meaning “battle.” No fewer than 18 French kings have carried this name, including Louis XV, who ruled France for 72 years and was known as Louis the Great. Lewis is the common spelling in England and Scotland. Americans prefer the spelling Louis but use the Old French pronunciation of “Lew-is” instead of the modern French pronunciation of “Louie.”
Now, crown this! Lewis Carroll was the pen name for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In America, the names Louis and Lou have achieved iconic status in pop culture, with namesakes including jazz musician Louis Armstrong, rocker Lou Reed (whose first name was Lewis), singer Lou Rawls, and actor Lou Costello.
Six Scottish kings have been named James, most notably James VI, who ascended to the British throne after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. The son of Mary, Queen of Scots, became known as James I In England, and his reign over England, Scotland and Ireland came to be called the Jacobean era. The name James shares roots with the Biblical Jacob; both names are derived from the Hebrew Yaakov. An alternative Latin variant, Jacomus, eventually evolved into James and can be found in the New Testament.
Now, crown this! Six U.S. presidents had the first name, James—more than any other name. The name James also appears in the New Testament. James was a top 5 name in the U.S. from 1880 to 1980, and the number one boy’s name from 1940 to 1952. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick have a son named James. As a name, James travels well. Foreign adaptations include the Spanish Jaime or Diego, the French Jacques, the Scottish Hamish, the Irish Seamus, and the Italian Giacomo.
Meaning: determined protector
From Wil meaning “will or desire” and helm, for “protection,” comes a name that was first introduced to England in 1066 by the Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror. There have been three British kings and four American presidents named William, including Bill Clinton. Famous Williams include William Shakespeare, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, and Bill Gates, but not Will Smith, whose first name was actually Willard.
Now, crown this! Wilkie is an obscure pet form of the name William but Will, Wills, Bill, Billy, and the Irish Liam are much more popular and familiar offshoots. In 2012, William was the 5th most popular boy’s name in the United States, followed directly by Liam, in sixth place. Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter have a son, Billy.
Origin: Old Germanic
Meaning: home and rule or power
The French Henri was derived from the Old Germanic Haimric. Along with six French kings, there have been eight British kings named Henry, including the oft-married Henry VIII, but none have ruled England since the 16th century. Henry also comes with the endearing nicknames Hank and Harry (as Prince William’s younger brother is called).
Now, crown this! A popular name among celebrity mums and dads—Julia Roberts and Heidi Klum are but a few celebs who chose this name for their boys—Henry belongs to a meritocracy of distinguished Americans including car inventor Henry Ford, writer Henry David Thoreau, and actor Henry Fonda.
Some folks say that the name Arthur descended from the Roman family name, Artorius, while others point to the Celtic Art, meaning “bear.” While the origins of Arthur are shrouded in mystery, the legendary King Arthur, and his Knights of the Round Table, are immortalized in lore and literature. As defenders of the realm in the late 5th and early 6th centuries, Arthur and his knights represent the quest for purity, devotion, chivalry, and nobility.
Now, crown this! Famous namesakes include Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, playwright Arthur Miller, African-American tennis great, Arthur Ashe, singer Art Garfunkel, and Arthur, the aardvark in a PBS cartoon. Selma Blair named her son, Arthur Saint, in 2011.
Meaning: free man
Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, brought the name to prominence in medieval France. Among the Brits, you can count Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and actor Charlie Chaplin. In America, cartoonist Charles Schultz, animator Chuck Jones, poet Charles Bukowski, and jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker are notable examples. Not bad for a name related to Karl, Carl, and Carol!
Now, crown this! Russell Crowe, Jodie Foster and Julia Louis-Dreyfus all have sons named Charles and Tiger Woods, Soledad O’Brien, and Anna Paquin have sons named Charlie. The nickname Charlie is enjoying popularity as a proper first name in its own right. Charlie is in the top 25% of baby names for boys, while Charles is in the top 10%.