LONDON — The bookies were right: He Who Had Not Been Named is now Prince George.
His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, to be exact.
On Wednesday, that regal name was bestowed on Britain’s 2-day-old royal baby by his parents, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton. Although the thoroughly modern royal couple chose a thoroughly modern way to distribute the news — via Twitter — “Prince George” is as old-school as it gets.
No fewer than six British kings have borne the name “George”; in addition, its personal symbolism for William made it an obvious pick for months in betting pools across the country. The last King George was George VI, William’s great-grandfather, whose valiant battle with a speech impediment when he inherited the throne after his brother’s abdication was dramatized in the Oscar-winning film “The King’s Speech.”
And let’s face it. “Charming” was probably never really in the mix.
“It’s a strong name. ‘Prince George of Cambridge’ sounds good, very resonant with the queen’s family,” said Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage.
The length of the name, however, appeared to be something of a nod to the 21st century — despite the “HRH” in front of it. Four names, not three, Kidd said, have “become the standard norm for members of the royal family in recent generations.” William has four, as does his father, Prince Charles. So by royal standards, “George Alexander Louis” is relatively concise.
“Louis,” royal-watchers said, was picked at least in part as a tribute to Louis Mountbatten, Charles’s beloved great-uncle, who was killed when an Irish Republican Army bomb blew up his boat in 1979. “Louis” is also one of William’s names.
The BBC speculated that “Alexander” may have been a preference on the Middleton side. It is also common in Scotland, which had three medieval kings named Alexander.
It took Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, a good week to name William. So the wait for the newest heir’s name — Prince George, if you haven’t heard, was born Monday — was comparatively short. Here, the naming of heirs is a serious matter, with the monikers of British kings and queens defining entire eras as well as periods of fashion, writing and architecture. Think Elizabethan literature and Victorian houses.
But Judy Wade, royal correspondent for Hello magazine, noted that typically, only popular monarchs earn a name for their age. “There wasn’t an Edward VIII era — he abandoned the throne — so it depends on the monarch, really,” she said.
Not everyone appeared immediately thrilled with the name “George.” Its popularity in betting pools meant that gambling houses across Britain were on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We’ve been left with a royal flush,” said Rory Scott, a spokesman for bookmaker Paddy Power. “We always get stung when favorites come good.”
However, he added, George was the front-runner from day one for good reason.
“It’s a modern name. It ticks lots of boxes,” he said. “William and Kate wanted a modern name, but they have 1,000 years of history to respect. I think the queen would probably approve of ‘George,’ don’t you?”
Earlier in the day, Queen Elizabeth II was driven to Kensington Palace to see her great-grandson, becoming the first reigning British monarch since Queen Victoria to meet a third-generation direct heir to the throne. The duke and duchess and their newborn were later seen leaving the palace, their official London residence, reportedly en route to Kate’s parents’ mansion in Bucklebury, a village about 55 miles west of London.
© 2013, The Washington Post