Nation & World News

In The Royal Baby Guessing Game, What’s The Surname?

By Kee Malesky on July 13th, 2013

Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanovers and now what?

There’s been plenty of speculation about what name will be chosen for the first child of the duke and duchess of Cambridge (better known as Will and Kate). Bets are being placed on Charlotte, Alice, Grace, Charles, George, James, etc. (see more possibilities below).

But what about a surname for the little tyke?

According to the BBC:

“A surname will not necessarily be required, as the new baby will have the title HRH Prince or Princess and will be referred to in this way. However, if Catherine and William want to include a surname, there are three choices available — Mountbatten-Windsor, Wales, or Cambridge. In 1917 George V adopted Windsor — after the castle of the same name — as the “surname” of his family, changing it from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as a result of anti-German feeling during World War I. The Queen and Prince Phillip combined their surnames to make Mountbatten-Windsor — their direct descendants can use this name but it isn’t binding. In his military role, William uses the name of his royal house — Wales — which is taken from his father. Similarly Cambridge, the title given to the couple when they married, could be used.”

The British monarchy is more about houses or dynasties (they pronounce it DIN-is-teez) than about last names. Queen Victoria, who was ethnically more German than British, married her first cousin Albert, whose family name was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. That was changed to Windsor in 1917, since Britain was at war with Germany at the time, and it was good public relations to choose something that sounded more English. Victoria and Albert had nine children, who married members of royal families across Europe and produced 42 grandchildren and 87 great-grandchildren.

Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, is a member of the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg. He adopted the surname Mountbatten (translated from the German Battenberg), which came from his maternal grandparents.

And here’s an explainer from the official website of the monarchy:

“At a meeting of the Privy Council on 17 July 1917, George V declared that ‘all descendants in the male line of Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than female descendants who marry or who have married, shall bear the name of Windsor.’

“The Royal Family name of Windsor was confirmed by The Queen after her accession in 1952. However, in 1960, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family (without changing the name of the Royal House), as Windsor is the surname used by all the male and unmarried female descendants of George V.

“It was therefore declared in the Privy Council that The Queen’s descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor.”

If you’d like to place a wager on the baby’s Christian name, here’s a list of the ones currently in use by the immediate members of the royal family:

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
Charles Philip Arthur George
William Arthur Philip Louis
Henry Charles Albert David
Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise
Peter Mark Andrew
Zara Anne Elizabeth
Andrew Albert Christian Edward
Beatrice Elizabeth Mary
Eugenie Victoria Helena
Edward Antony Richard Louis
Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary
James Alexander Philip Theo

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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