A novel game of Name That Baby has swept the UK this month as the imminent birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first child has Brits flocking to gambling sites, casting their predictions for the royal tot’s name along with its sex, hair color and future profession. Many have wagered that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will honor Will’s beloved mum by christening their little one Diana or that they’ll honor Her Majesty with the perennially in vogue Elizabeth, while others have bet the royal couple will shake things up with an offbeat moniker such as Chardonnay.
The top contenders in the betting pool tend toward the conventional—no Blue Ivys, Norths or Chardonnays here. Many of the frontrunners have already made multiple appearances in the family tree, as is customary in royal circles. But there’s more to these names and the legacies they carry than the familial figures who bore them in the past. Here’s a look at what some of these top contenders mean:
Alexandra: This is the feminine form of the name Alexander, which combines the Greek words alexein or “to defend” with aner, “man, warrior,” resulting in the common translation “defender of men.” The feminine form gained popularity in Britain in the late 1800s due to Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII. Alexandra is also one of the Queen’s middle names.
Charlotte: This name derives from the masculine name Charles, which is from Middle High German Karl meaning “man, husband.” It’s also one of Auntie Pippa’s middle names (and as a delicious bonus, a dessert cake made with custard or whipped cream and fruit).
Elizabeth: In addition to being the name of the royal baby’s great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother (and Kate’s middle name), Elizabeth is a pious name that translates from the Hebrew Elishebha to mean “God is an oath.”
Diana: This name comes from Roman mythology in which Diana was the goddess of the moon and of hunting, characterized by beauty and chastity. The first part of this name, “Di,” is thought to be the same as Roman god Dionysus, the Greek god of fertility. Diana shares its root dyeu- meaning “to shine” with the Greek father of gods, Zeus.
James: James is derived from the Hebrew name Jacob or Yaakov, which means “heel-grabber” or “supplanter.” This meaning comes from the Book of Genesis in which Jacob grabs the heel of his older twin brother Esau as they exit their mother’s womb and enter the world. Jacob later tricks his father into blessing him as firstborn instead of Esau. In Genesis 27:36, Esau says: “Is he not rightly named Jacob? for he has supplanted me these two times.” Kate Middleton’s brother is also named James.
George: This name translates to “farmer,” from the Greek georgos, from ge or “earth” and ergein “to work.” It is also the name of the patron saint of England, celebrated for his valor in a widely told legend in which he slays a dragon for a Libyan king’s promise to have his subjects baptized.
Of course the Duke and Duchess could break with tradition and go with soccer megastar (and UK royalty of another variety) David Beckham’s suggestion to name it after him. A restrained proposition coming from a man whose children are named Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz. Maybe by not suggesting they name the child Windsor or Montague he’s trying to live up to his name, which means “darling, beloved friend.”
Which of these is your favorite? Do you like the sound of Princess Chardonnay? What do you think Will and Kate will name their bundle of joy?