Okay, Meghan and Harry haven’t actually requested #namehelp for Baby Sussex. But the royal couple’s firstborn is due any day now, so let’s look at some possibilities.
But first … about those royal titles.
Known to the world as Harry and Meghan, officially they’re the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. As the grandson of the sovereign, Harry is a prince. In fact, he was born Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales. She’s Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, with the rank of a princess – but she’s not Princess Meghan.
It’s all very involved.
Baby Sussex: What We Know
First things first: Harry and Meghan’s child will not be a prince or princess.
Well, the Queen could change the rules at any time, but we have no reason to believe she will.
That means baby Sussex will be known as Lady Mountbatten-Windsor or Lord Mountbatten-Windsor. By custom, the eldest son of a Duke is also addressed by one of his father’s lesser titles. It’s likely that Harry’s son will answer to the Earl of Dumbarton from the very first.
While the laws of succession are now gender neutral, this practice applies only to sons. A little Lady Mountbatten-Windsor won’t be called the Countess of Dumbarton, and can’t succeed her dad – at least not without intervention from the monarch.
Baby Sussex: Three Naming Approaches
I think there are three general approaches to naming baby Sussex that the royal couple can take:
The Princess Anne Playbook – Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips way back in 1973. Captain Phillips declined a title, meaning that the Queen’s eldest grandchildren are plain ol’ Peter Philips and Zara Phillips Tindall. Zara’s name broke with royal tradition. So did the next generation, which includes four children total: Zara’s daughters, Mia and Lena, and Peter’s daughters, Savannah and Isla. So it’s perfectly possible Harry and Meghan could choose any name under the sun.
The Will and Kate Bright Lines Method – Then there’s Harry’s big brother, the future king. For Will and Kate’s children, only the most traditional names from the royal family tree were under consideration. And while Louis feels like a little bit of a wild card, the only reason we dismissed it was because it’s already part of George’s full name, George Alexander Louis. Harry and Meghan’s child will be a distant seventh in line to the throne, which suggests the couple has more freedom to choose a less traditionally regal name. But it’s possible they’ll opt to stick with the same pool of names Will and Kate considered.
The Andrew & Fergie Deep Dive Approach – Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, in 1986. The couple became the Duke and Duchess of York. When daughter Beatrice Elizabeth Mary was born in 1988, she became fifth in line to the throne. That’s comparable to the position Harry and Meghan find themselves in now. (Though as grandchildren of the sovereign, Andrew’s daughters were automatically considered princesses.) We might think of Beatrice as a deeply traditional name, but it took royal watchers by surprise back in 1988. Her younger sister’s name, Eugenie Victoria Helena, was an even bigger one. Both names qualify as royal, but only by digging deep into genealogy. Back in the day, pretty much no one was betting on Beatrice.
My sense is that Meghan and Harry’s choice will take this path. It’s consistent with Harry’s position in terms of the succession. And it allows the couple to choose something distinctive and stylish.
That helps, especially when you consider how many appropriately royal names are already taken by their Windsor cousins. Plus, it could create space to honor Meghan’s roots, too.
Baby Sussex: Honoring Grandma
It’s very likely that one – or both – grandmothers may be honored, especially if this baby is a girl. Charlotte already has Diana as her second middle name, but the royals regularly repeat middles.
For a boy, I think Spencer, Diana’s maiden name, might make a dashing middle.
Doria, Meghan’s mom, could feature in a name, too. And speaking of Meghan’s family tree, a number of articles have delved into her more distant relations to suggest names like Gertrude and Marmaduke. I doubt they’ll use anything too out-there, but it’s possible.
Baby Sussex: Possible Names for a Little Lady
I suspect Meghan and Harry may have started with the same basic list I covered when Kate was expecting her third. But my guess about which names rise to the top is very different.
- Alice – I can see this appealing to Harry and Meghan, but we all had the sense that it was Kate’s second girl name. Does that make it off limits? It feels like a very Meghan name to me.
- Amelia – So popular in the UK and the US, but I think this one has potential, too.
- Caroline – It feels a little too traditional for Harry and Meghan, though never say never.
- Eleanor – While I can make a case for Eleanor, I don’t see it as a front-runner.
- Frances – Frances was Diana’s middle name, so this might be considered another honor choice.
- Helena – A gorgeous choice, but will pronunciation pitfalls give the parents pause?
- Margaret – The late Princess Margaret, sister to the current Queen, passed away in 2002. And yet, I still feel like this name is fully occupied by her memory – if only in pop culture, like The Crown. (Which, let’s face it, probably isn’t on their watchlist.)
- Mary – Wouldn’t this be great?
- Matilda – Impeccably royal, but seldom used in recent generations, Matilda is a rising favorite in the US.
- Sophia – A world-wide favorite, easily pronounced nearly anywhere on earth, I can see the appeal of Sophia. And yet, I don’t see it as the obvious choice.
In addition to these, Victoria comes up time and time again as an option. It seems like a big name to wear in the UK, which makes me hesitate. I figured it was out for Will and Kate. But maybe it’s on the table for baby Sussex? Alexandra is suggested quite a bit, too. In many ways, it’s perfect. And yet, the name peaked in the US in the 1990s. Does that make it feel a little less appealing for the couple?
Baby Sussex: Names for a Little Lord
Again, let’s start with the Cambridge boy names list.
- Albert – Very possibly maybe. It’s uncommon in the US, but big in England. Albert, Albie, and Bertie all feel quite stylish. It’s one of Harry’s middle names, and Will and Kate have not used it for either of their sons’ names.
- Arthur – Widely considered a front-runner for Prince Louis, it turned out that Pippa – Kate’s younger sister – chose the name for her son, born just months after Louis. It is part of the youngest prince’s full name, Louis Arthur Charles. Does that take it off the table for Meghan and Harry?
- Frederick – I think this has potential.
- James – Prince Edward, Harry’s uncle, named his son James. Since James is only eleven, it seems like the name might be taken for this generation.
- Henry – The royal family doesn’t do juniors, but I suppose they could name a son Henry. I think it’s more likely a middle name option.
- Louis – Taken as a first, and probably as a middle, too.
- Peter – Maybe.
- Philip – Another maybe.
- Richard – One of the few obviously royal names not currently in use by any of the current generation. And yet, it’s lost in style limbo, which makes me think it’s not a top candidate.
- William – Another possible middle.
In addition, Alexander is mentioned occasionally, along with a few other names.
Baby Sussex: My Suggestions for a Daughter
My suggestions for Lady Mountbatten-Windsor are as follows:
- If they take the Deep Dive approach – and I think they might – then, why not Matilda? It’s common in England, but just catching on in the US. It seems like the kind of name that checks all the boxes, while still giving Harry and Meghan something all their own. It’s what I would encourage the couple to choose, and also my top prediction.
- Along the same lines, I can imagine a Lady Amelia. It’s just royal enough, but not used in recent generations.
- Behind Amelia, I’ll put Eleanor. The advantage of Eleanor? It also pays homage to Eleanor Roosevelt, making this name a culture-crossing option with ties to lots of strong women.
- Next up: a name that I didn’t see as an option for Will and Kate: Josephine. I say it’s just royal enough – certainly if you consider Harry’s European cousins. But it’s also a rising favorite in the US, and brings to mind the legendary Josephine Baker. A Civil Rights activist, World War II spy, and the first African-American to star in a major motion picture, Baker makes a worthy role model. The name feels stuck in style limbo in the UK, but maybe that’s not a barrier – or even a bonus? – for the couple.
- To round out my list, I’ll say Rose. There’s a Windsor cousin named Rose – daughter to the Duke of Gloucester – but I don’t think that rules out the name’s use for Harry and Meghan.
So that’s a list of five. If I have to narrow it to just one? I’ll say Lady Josephine Doria Frances Mountbatten-Windsor. Doria for Meghan’s mom, and Frances from Diana’s middle name.
Baby Sussex: My Suggestions for a Son
My suggestions for Lord Mountbatten-Windsor are as follows:
- The royal family isn’t into juniors, but they repeat names across generations. Prince Charles’ full name is Charles Philip Arthur George; William is William Arthur Philip Louis. Philip, of course, comes from the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. Call it the most obvious name still unused in this generation.
- The royal family does not use surnames as given names, but would Spencer, Princess Diana’s family name, be unthinkable?
- I wonder if the couple would consider something like Leo. It’s Top 100 in the US and Top Ten in the UK. But it’s also nicely royal-ish, or at least aristocratic, thanks to names like Lionel and Leopold. (Okay, you have to go back to the fourteenth century to find an English Prince Lionel. But Queen Victoria’s eighth child was Prince Leopold.)
- While Alexandra seems just a little dated for the couple, Alexander feels a little more evergreen. It’s been a Top 100 name in England since the 1970s, and appears in plenty of royal houses across Europe. In England, it’s not a name worn by kings, but that doesn’t seem like an issue for the Sussex baby.
- For a dark horse option, how about David? It’s one of Harry’s middles, has a great meaning – beloved – and feels both classic (think Dickens’ David Copperfield or the Biblical King David) but also contemporary (think Bowie and Beckham). It’s undeniably traditional, but a little different for the House of Windsor.
I’m having a tougher time settling on a single boy’s name. Let’s say Leo Spencer Philip. I think Leo counts as a Deep Dive name, Spencer as a nod to Diana, and Philip as the significant family name still left unused. But even as I guess this, I’m tempted to say something very different – Alexander Anthony David, or Alexander Philip David, maybe?
Let’s hear your suggestions for baby Sussex’s name!
Now we know they got a boy!
I think Arthur and James are out, due to baby Arthur (Middleton) Matthews and James Middleton.
I think all Cambridge names are out, including William, George, Alexander and Louis, with Charles being an exception.
Among the royal names, I favor Charles, since I’ve heard Prince Charles welcomed Meghan into the family and walked her down the aisle at her wedding. And I think they would like the nickname Charlie.
I do not think Meghan would use her father’s name, Thomas.
Ultimately, I think they will come up with something unexpected, slightly trendy and widely appealing.
I can’t believe I missed this post when it came out! I have my personal wish: a girl named Marguerite. It’s one of the Queen Mum’s middle names, and it’s Maya Angelou’s birth name. But I agree that Matilda, Amelia, and Eleanor are much more likely.
For boys, Philip makes so much sense except that I heard at one point in the past that the Queen doesn’t like namesakes for relatives still living. There was a godchild or distant relative born named Elizabeth and she made pains to point out that the baby was named after her mother, not herself. I think Philip is definitely on the middle name list. I love the suggestion of Leo and August(us)! Frederick is likely, too.
Ermintrude Alice Elizabeth
Ermintrude Amelia Thomasina
Tancrede Leo Spencer
Phillip Theobald Alexander
– If we are going to dig deep in the past, some old classics could come out…
Those are fabulous! I mean … Tancrede = swoon!
Lauren Steenkamp says
If it’s something all of their own your wanting, why not look who possessed their main title (the dukedom of Sussex) last namely Augustus -Prince Augustus Frederick to be exact [1801-1843]-? I like the idea of either Augustus Philip Thomas or Edwin Thomas Frederick
I really hope they don’t choose Eleanor. I’m pregnant with a girl we would like to name Eleanor and I have a George already!
Oh no! Then I hope it is Josephine or Matilda, or some other name!
And congrats. 🙂
I really like the way you’ve thought about the different routes they have for naming, I do hope they pick something a little more Deep Dive than obviously royal.
I’m really pulling for/thinking it may be Matilda if it’s a girl. I think the name may well hold a personal connection with their tour of Australia/NZ this year. Can’t think of another name that would relate obviously to their travels but still feel really appropriate. I’d love for it to be Matilda Dorothy Frances. Definitely think Eleanor and Alice are up there for a first name too, maybe Alexandrina from Victoria’s name (Or Alexandria as a different twist and it would drive the press nuts bc it would be seen as a nod to AOC in USA) or Elizabeth as a middle? Could also totally see a popular middle like Grace or Rose fitting in. I could also see a first name like Leonora, Florence or Daphne appealing to them. My far-out-of-left-field-won’t-happen-but-would-be-amazing-choice is Boudicca 🙂 I do think that whatever is picked will be well thought out and unexpected, but classic/historical, with a bit of ancient warrior/feminist thrown in, and quite likely personal in a way that we won’t all understand.
I feel less sure of a boy name, I like Alexander and Frederick the best. I do think Philip would be honored in a middle and love the idea of Spencer being in there too, though I just don’t know, I really associate the name with Spencer Pratt (who is now a dad and into hummingbirds and kinda cool but used to just be a reality tv villain). Also don’t discount Charles as a middle! Alistair seems like a good choice for a non-traditionally royal but traditional pick. Maybe Frederick Philip Spencer? Alexander Charles Spencer?
Boudicca would be AMAZING! But I agree … almost certainly not gonna happen.
Interesting point about the Matilda connection. I hadn’t thought about that. It would fit, wouldn’t it?
Victoria is pretty high up on the bookies’ lists, but I cannot imagine having to live up to SUCH a big name as a member of the royal family. Alexandrina might be a solid alternative.
Boys ARE difficult, right? I think we saw that with Will + Kate. The pool of possibilities is small, and so many are already taken …
Lauren Steenkamp says
I’m surprised you didn’t suggest Thomas after Meghan’s father if it’s a boy, in the main spot it would be nice because it’s traditional enough to fit with his cousins but uncommon enough for the royal family that you would have to go back several hundred years to find even a Prince called Thomas. Also considering Alexander, Rose and Frederick are names of Windsor cousins (Gloucester and Kent -both Dukedoms- respectively) who Harry used to holiday with as a boy I doubt he’ll use them for his own children [in the main spot at least]
Thomas is a great name. But considering Thomas Markle has been making a living by lying to the tabloids about his daughter and her in-laws something tells me that there’s no way he’ll be honored in that way.
I thought about Thomas … but the media around their relationship is intense, and Thomas wasn’t present at their wedding. (For health reasons, but after all sorts of kerfuffle.) Thomas Sr. is also father to Thomas Jr., Meghan’s half-brother … and Thomas Jr. has a son, also named Thomas.
As for Alexander, Rose, and Frederick, they’re adults around the same age as Harry and Meghan. So while it would be ideal to not repeat names, I think it would be less problematic to repeat a name from another generation. (Which makes me wonder if Thomas feels taken.)
Still, the perfect solution is that they find something that’s all their own. So that’s why Josephine + Leo make it to the top of my list, even though they’re somewhat unconventional choices.
But no matter how much we think we know about public figures, it’s not always so … I wouldn’t be stunned to see Thomas feature in a boy name – just a little bit surprised.