Prince Charles Originally Wanted to Name William Something Totally Different

Though the name he and Diana went with still has a lot of power.

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AELTC/Jed LeicesterGetty Images

What’s in a name? Well, when you’re the future King of England, kind of a lot as it turns out! According to royal historian Robert Lacey, writing in People, when William eventually becomes king he’ll be known as King William IV, which Princess Diana suggested as a nod to a different famed English king. But Prince Charles originally proposed a very different name for his firstborn.

Lacey says that though Diana got her way when William was born in June 1982, Prince Charles had suggested calling their son Arthur—after the storied king and knight of the Round Table in British legend. However, "Diana, Princess of Wales proposed a more robust name — William, as in 'William the Conqueror,' victor of the famed Battle of Hastings in 1066,” Lacey said. Arthur would have been a very different vibe for William, though we must admit we like the sound of King Arthur II too.

windsor, united kingdom   may 17  princess diana with prince william sitting on her lap at polo  photo by tim graham photo library via getty images
Diana with a young William.
Tim GrahamGetty Images

But Charles’s suggestion wasn’t totally vetoed, either. The Duke of Cambridge’s full name is Prince William Arthur Philip Louis. Diana’s pick of William got the lead, Charles’s selection of Arthur came in second, a tribute to William’s grandfather Prince Philip is third, and Louis—a family name—rounds out the fourth place.

When you’re a royal you’re supposed to have a lot of names apparently, and it’s notable that Prince William and Kate Middleton gave their second-born son the name Louis, too—and his middle name is even Arthur. Those are some big names to live up to!

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Charles, William, and Diana.
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But Lacey writes that Diana knew even early on that William would be up to the task:

“‘He's obviously going to be a great King,' Diana would declare to her confidante Simone Simmons as she watched her son organize pickup games of soccer in Kensington Palace's gardens or subversive midnight feasts on sleepovers with friends. 'Look how they're drawn to him! He's a born leader.'"

It’s hard to imagine Prince William as anything else, so it’s probably for the best that Diana got her way on the name selection.

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