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British Royal Names

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Of Hanovers and Windsors

What's in a Name

Of the names added to the name pool by the House of Hanover, only two—Caroline (the feminine deriva-tive of the German name Carl) and Ernest (an English name meaning “sincere”)—were not of Greek or Latin origin.

What's in a Name

The name Alberta, the feminine form of Albert, was widely used during the lifetime of Queen Victoria in honor of her husband, Prince Consort Albert.

The House of Stuart came to an abrupt end in 1714 when the last Stuart ruler, Queen Anne, followed all of her children in death. Because none of her heirs survived her, her crown passed to the German-influenced House of Hanover.

The House of Hanover, which also was aligned with the Protestant Church, was established when a daughter of James I married into the German royal family at the time. Their grandson, George I, became the first Hanoverian king in 1714.

The new ruling house may have had a German heritage, but it had a preference for names with classic Greek and Roman roots:

  • Adolphus: This Latinized form of the German name Adolph (“noble wolf”) was also a German and Swedish royal name. Adolphus was another brother of George IV and William IV, and served as the Duke of Cambridge.
  • Augusta: The feminine form of the Latin name Augustus (“worthy of respect”) was borne by the German mother of George III and was passed on to her daughter as well.
  • Augustus: A brother of George IV and William IV (their parents, George III and Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenberg-Strelitz, had seven boys and a number of daughters as well), Augustus was the Duke of Sussex.
  • Caroline: Another sister of George III, Caroline would marry Christian VII of Denmark.
  • Ernest: A brother of both George IV and William IV, Ernest was Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover from 1837-1851.
  • George: This Greek name, meaning “farmer,” would become a favorite of the British ruling class.
  • Victoria: The feminine form of the Latin name Victor (“victory”). Victoria was the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, one of the seven sons of George III. She would define the era that bears her name.

The Victorian Era

What's in a Name

She may have lost her crown and her title, but the iconic Princess Di continues to have a profound influence on naming patterns in Britain even after her death. Up until then, the British National Health Service Register reported about three babies a month named Diana. Right after tragic car crash, that number spiked to 29.

In 1837, Victoria, the 18-year-old daughter of the Duke of Kent and his wife, a princess of the German house of Saxe-Coburg, ascended to the British throne. She married her first cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and they ruled the nation together for many years.

This beloved queen, who had one of the longest reigns in European history, was revered for her courage, strength of character, and her emphasis on imperial unity. She would have nine children with her prince. Of them, four bore names that were already part of the royal name pool. New names added by Victoria and Albert included:

  • Alice: Like Adele, this name comes to the English name pool by way of the German name Adelaide (“noble,” “nobility”).
  • Helena: There's that classical influence again!
  • Louise: The feminine form of the Old German name Louis, meaning “renowned in battle.”
  • Leopold: Another Old German name, it means “brave people.”
  • Beatrice: It means “bringer of gladness” in Latin. Found fairly commonly in many European royal houses and made popular again by the present Duke of York and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, who used it for their oldest daughter.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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