In a complete break from my normal posts on climate, after discussions with my daughter, I am going to speculate on Royal baby names.
In less than two weeks’ time there will be a General Election. Given that the betting is that a Labour/ Scots Nat Coalition is likely there is a strong possibility that the incoming Government could lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom. The Scottish Nationalists have very similar left-of-centre policies , there is which will in turn lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom. The Royal Family, particularly The Queen, firmly believes in the United Kingdom, has long been proud of its Scottish routes (the Queen is half Scots), but at the same time does not directly intercede in politics, except in the most tangential ways. Naming of a Royal Baby who is fourth in line to the throne is one of the few methods open to the Royal Family of sending a political message. The naming cannot offend the Scots, but at the same time will satisfy the far more numerous English. It must also be a name seen to be reasonably modern, but also in keeping with royal traditions.
If the Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a baby boy there will be a number of names that could be chosen. Prince George Alexander Louis set a precedent. George is the names of six British Monarchs, but identified as very English. It was in the reign of George II (1727-1760) for instance that the Young Pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie was finally defeated at Culloden in 1745. The second name, whilst being highly international was also the name of three medieval Scottish Kings, and the Gaelic form is Alistair. Louis is from Prince William’s great uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was very close to the Prince of Wales. There was both traditional English and Scottish elements in the name, without seeming too old fashioned. Alexander has already been used, so is counted out. Some names of Scottish Kings cannot be considered. “Kenneth” and “Duncan” are very old fashioned. Macbeth was trashed as a plausible name by William Shakespeare. Lulach, Amlaíb, Cuilén, Dub and Indulf as too lost in time to inflict on any child, and would need explaining. This leaves James, David and Robert. In Scotland James is currently fourth most popular, behind Jack, Lewis and Riley. At Befair it is the most popular Boys’ name. So this might be a strong contender. However, the Royal Family will want to make an imprint less than two weeks before a General Election that could destroy the United Kingdom that the Queen pledged to defend. James is both Scottish and English. We have the King James Bible of 1611 that helped unite the factions in the Church of England for a while. But King James VI of Scotland (and James I of England) was an anomaly. He was a strong Scottish Presbyterian, who in commissioning this great work sought to bring together both the Puritan and Catholic elements of the Anglican Church. His grandson, James II almost caused a second Civil War through his Catholic tendencies, resulting in the current inability of the heir to the throne to marry a Roman Catholic. The betting markets, along with my daughter, may favour such a name, but the Queen may advise against.
So what is an appropriate boys’ name for a possible (but unlikely) future monarch, whose only role may be to save the Union by being born?
There are two courses that the Royal Family may take. I believe that they will take the safe course, and call the boy David. It has both strong Scottish routes, and David is the patron saint of Wales. But the option to save the United Kingdom is Robert. On 13th June 1214, Robert the Bruce defeated the English forces of Edward I (“Hammer of the Scots”) at Bannockburn near Stirling. Less than 150 years earlier William of Normandy had defeated the Anglo Saxon (English) at the Battle of Hastings. Although “Edward” was Anglo Saxon in origin the “English Kings” still spoke French at Court. Most fighting on the side of Edward could as little understand their Sovereigns’ words as the Gaelic-speaking Scots. If Robert is chosen, a second name cannot be Edward. But the older Anglo Saxon form of Edward (and still used today) is Edmund. How better for the Royal Family to remember the subjected of 800 years ago, whilst uniting both the downtrodden of both Scotland and England, whilst reconciling ancient enmities, whilst remembering the ancient Kings of both countries. A third name could be David, or one than avers to the Irish, such as Kevin J
Girls names are more difficult. The most famous Scottish girls name is Margaret, and until the 1960s was easily the most popular name. I have an Auntie Margaret and have fond memories of my Great Aunt Margaret, and had (by all accounts) a formidable Great Grandmother Margaret Ross, who died at the age of 93 when I was 3 years old. Many will remember the Queen’s Sister, Princess Margaret. But the name is now not in the top 100 of girl names in Scotland, and (due to the Royal connection) will not be viewed as particularly Scottish. In left-of-centre Scottish minds, it is also the Christian name of one of twentieth century’s greatest Prime Ministers.
There are not many Queens of Scotland. The most famous is Mary Queen of Scots, who, being a French-speaking Catholic, was hardly a figurehead for an increasingly Presbyterian Scotland of the time, nor for the a British Monarchy who has defended the middle-of-the-road Anglican Communion for well over 300 hundred years. Scottish Queens consorts were undistinguished and with names such as Maud, Joan, Sybilla, Ethelreda and Grouoch are hardly able to capture the imagination of the Scottish public. Margaret is again the most popular name, followed by Elizabeth. Looking at current most popular Scottish Girls names in 2012, they are Sophie followed by Emily, Olivia, Ava and Lucy. Hardly Royal, and not much different from England. A statement cannot be easily be made. The last truly Scottish Royal was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, so Elizabeth might be a family option. The policy might be to play safe, or in a thorough break with tradition, let the parents decide.
Declaration of Interest
I was born and bred in England, but my Mother is, and three of my grandparents were, Scottish. I named my son Edmund Alexander. The latter name was after a Great Grandfather and an Uncle who was always known as Alistair. I consider myself British, and am proud of both my Derbyshire and North Scottish ancestry.