Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Baby George Got His Name

After several conversations on the subject with my coworkers, I finally gave in and decided to do a royal baby post.

Royalty and genealogy go hand in hand. I got started studying royalty genealogy way back before I had the Internet. I would pull out our encyclopedias and work backward from one king to the next. There is some kind of disorder there. I found it really interesting and crazy, crazy that the European royal families were all related in some way. Literally, ALL of them. Crazy.

So, if you haven't been living under a rock, you probably know there is a new royal baby. When the Duchess first announced her pregnancy, there was a debate about whether the baby would be a boy or a girl. Not really important anymore, since a law was passed (very recently, in 2011) ensuring that either sex could succeed to the throne, when his/her time came. The second debate started immediately after the Prince was born: what would his name be? In the end, George Alexander Louis won. But you may ask why. Well, no commoner can say for sure, but those royals really like honoring family members and this is my best guess. Read with me, won't you?

George

When baby George becomes King George, he will (likely) be crowned as King George VII. Obviously because six kings of Great Britain and Ireland have been crowned as King George before him, starting with this fine-looking chap...

King George I

This guy was actually a German, who was chosen to take the throne for his childless second-cousin, Queen Anne I (who was actually descended from a line of Kings originally from Scotland, go figure). This was not because he was the nearest living relative to the monarch, as is usually the case. It was because he was the Protestant-iest. To make it so, a law was passed called the Act of Settlement in 1701, under which anyone who marries a Roman Catholic or converts to Catholicism themselves cannot inherit the throne. Blah, blah, blah. (This law also recently went the way of the dodo bird).

After George I, there was a George II, then George III (below, the crazy one that lost America during the Revolutionary War), and so on.


Most recently, there was George VI. His birth name was Albert Frederick Arthur George, his nickname was Bertie, and when he inherited the throne from his older brother -- who had abdicated to marry an American, Catholic, divorcee (oooh, the British royal family hated all of those words) -- he took the name George, making him the VI. 

You may recognize his picture.


If you don't, you may recognize Colin Firth playing him in the "The King's Speech." Beautiful Colin Firth...


George VI was also the much-loved father of the current Queen, Elizabeth II, and the great-great, grandfather of the new, little George. 

Another possibility? A patriotic tip of the hat. St. George is the patron saint of England. He is supposed to have slayed a dragon and whatnot. 


Here he is doing that...


Onward!

Alexander 

I'd like to say William and Kate just know how awesome my husband is, but it's not likely. Some more likely reasons? While there haven't been any kings of Great Britain with the name Alexander, several Kings throughout Europe (remember, they are ALL related!) have carried the name. Additionally, Prince George's great-great-great-great grandmother was a Danish princess by the name of Alexandra, which is Queen Elizabeth II's middle name. 

Queen Alexandra.

Louis

Sure, there have been tons of French kings named Louis, but this is probably not for them. Instead, it is likely a nod to Louis, Lord Mountbatten, a beloved great-uncle of baby George's grandfather, Prince Charles. Born as Louis Battenberg, his last name was changed around 1917 when many British royals were dropping their German titles during the first World War. (Remember when I told you the royal family were of German descent? Even after becoming the rulers of England, they continued to have close ties to Germany. Many of the lesser royals married into the various German principalities and duchies, a fact they liked to hide when they were ruling a country who was at war with Germany.) 

Lord Mountbatten.
Unfortunately, Lord Mountbatten would meet an untimely fate. While holidaying in Ireland in 1979, the IRA detonated a bomb on his boat, killing him, one of his grandsons, and his daughter's mother-in-law. In honor, Prince Charles would give his firstborn son the name Louis as his final given name (William Arthur Phillip Louis) and Prince William would do the same.

That is your history lesson, people. Now let's get back to talking about what Kate is wearing!

(Thanks for the photos, Wikipedia. You're a peach.)