Britain’s Prince Harry and Megan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, are just weeks away from introducing the world to their first child, who will become the seventh in line to the British Crown.
How will the baby’s name be chosen? And for this living symbol of a nation, what does the baby’s name symbolize?
Here’s how the tradition-loving UK royals have named their offspring in the past.*
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth, now 67 years into her reign, was born at 2.40 in the morning on April 21, 1926. She was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary at Buckingham Palace a few weeks later, on May 29.
She was named after her mother, who was also named Elizabeth. Her middle names come from her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and paternal grandmother, Queen Mary.
Queen Elizabeth’s oldest child was born on November 14, 1948. But for a full month, the world had to wait until the Queen shared her son’s name: Charles Philip Arthur George.
Charles, which means “free man,” was the name of two earlier English kings. Charles’ first middle name honors his father, Prince Philip. Arthur was a middle name of Prince Charles’ grandfather, George VI, who died when Prince Charles was four. The name George honors that king’s “regnal name,” the name by which he was called as king.
If Prince Charles ever becomes king, he faces a choice about his own regnal name. He can use his given name and become King Charles III, even though King Charles I was so unpopular that he was executed in 1649, while King Charles II presided over an outbreak of the Black Death and the Great London Fire of 1666.
Or he can give up the name by which the world has known him for 70 years (as the son of the longest-serving British monarch, he is the longest-serving heir apparent in British history) and become King Philip, King Arthur, or King George VII.
Queen Elizabeth’s second child and only daughter was born on August 5, 1950 and baptized Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise. Anne was the name originally chosen by Queen Elizabeth’s parents for Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister, but George V, Elizabeth and Margaret’s grandfather, vetoed that name.
Alice honors Princess Alice of Battenberg, Prince Philip’s mother. Louise was one of the given names of the Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary, who was initially known as Princess Anne of Edinburgh.
Second-in-line to the throne, after his father, Prince William was born on June 21, 1982. After a week, his parents revealed his full name as William Arthur Philip Louis.
Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana, chose her son’s first name after William of Gloucester, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth who was ninth in line for the British throne when he died in a plane crash in 1972.
Prince Charles picked his son’s two middle names: Philip honors the Prince’s paternal grandfather, Prince Philip, and Arthur is a name shared by father and son. Louis honors Lord Louis Mountbatten, a prominent British naval officer who served as a mentor of Prince Charles and was the uncle of Prince Phillip.
The oldest child of Prince William and Duchess Kate, Prince George was born on July 22, 2013. Befitting 21st century royals, Prince William and Duchess Kate revealed Prince George’s full name two days after his birth via Twitter: George Alexander Louis.
George honors Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI. Alexander may honor the Queen, whose middle name is Alexandra. Louis honors Lord Mountbatten and was one of the names given to Prince William.
Prince William and Duchess Kate’s second child and only daughter was born on May 2, 2015. Charlotte’s parents also revealed her name via Twitter two days after her birth: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
Her first name is the feminine version of her grandfather’s name, Charles, and her aunt, Pippa Middleton’s middle name is also Charlotte.
Elizabeth is an obvious tribute to the Queen, and Diana honors Charlotte’s late paternal grandmother, Princess Diana, who died tragically when Prince William was fifteen years old.
Prince Louis Arthur Charles, the third child of Prince William and Duchess Kate, was born on April 23, 2018. After weeks of speculation and odds-making by London bookies (who favored Arthur, Albert and Philip), his parents revealed his name to the public four days after his birth via Twitter.
Louis is Prince William’s fourth name, which was chosen by Prince Charles as a tribute to Lord Mountbatten. Arthur is a name shared by both Prince William and Prince Charles, and pays homage to the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable. Charles was most likely chosen to honor the baby’s grandfather.
The British royals know their family tree, and that knowledge gives meaning and significance to the names they bestow upon their younger generations. But you don’t have to be nobility to do the same.
Find the names in your family tree to name your baby or to see if your name follows royal naming conventions with an Ancestry free trial.
*Author Sources: Queen Elizabeth: source 1, source 2; Prince Charles: source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5; Princess Anne: source 1, source 2; Prince William: source 1, source 2, source 3; Prince George: source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4; Princess Charlotte: source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4; Prince Louis: source 1, source 2, source 3.