Royals are known for having variable last names—for example, in his 40 years, Prince William has been William Wales (to honor his father’s longstanding Prince of Wales title), William Cambridge (to honor his own Duke of Cambridge title from 2011 to 2022), and is now a Wales again, as he is the Prince of Wales. Throw in Mountbatten-Windsor and it’s all very confusing on the surname front.
Royals are also known for having a whole ton of first names to make up for the often lack of a last name: Take William Arthur Philip Louis, for example, or his younger brother, Prince Henry Charles Albert David (yes, Harry is a nickname). But if the brothers’ father King Charles had his way, The Mirror reports, the two would have totally different monikers.
When William was born in June 1982, it took a week for Charles and Princess Diana to announce his name. According to the outlet, Charles had his heart set on naming his eldest son Arthur, but Diana suggested “the more robust name” William, as in William the Conqueror, royal historian Robert Lacey wrote in his book Battle of Brothers. Arthur did make the cut for the middle names, though, and the first middle name, at that (it also happens to be one of Charles’ own middle names); Philip honors Prince Philip, and Louis honors Lord Louis Mountbatten, Charles’ beloved mentor who was assassinated in 1979, three years before William’s birth.
Charles and Diana also disagreed on Harry’s name, with the then Prince of Wales wanting to call his second son, born in September 1984, Albert—which was the birth name of Charles’ grandfather King George VI. Albert made the cut as a middle name, as did Charles (an obvious choice) and David, which was the name King Edward VIII was called by his family. David was Charles’ uncle, and his 1936 abdication from the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson set up Charles for an eventual path to the throne. (By the way, David has more middle names than can even be comprehended—his full birth name was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David. Seven names. You can take that piece of trivia to your next royal dinner party.)
Arthur and Albert just don’t have the same ring to it—so good on you, Diana, for standing firm in your choices. And, speaking of royal names, we’ll likely hear Charles’ full name at least a few times—Charles Philip Arthur George—at his upcoming Coronation on May 6 at Westminster Abbey.
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Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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