This photo went wildly viral earlier this week. Taken to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, it shows the longest reigning British monarch with the youngest members of the royal family. They are:
- Her youngest grandchildren, the son and daughter of the queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and his wife, Sophie. Their names are Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary and James Alexander Philip Theo, Viscount Severn.
- The queen’s eldest great-greatchild, the daughter of Peter Phillips and his Canadian-born wife, Autumn Kelly. Her name is Savannah Anne Kathleen. Peter and Autumn are also the parents of daughter Isla Elizabeth.
- Peter’s sister, Zara Phillips, is mother to daughter Mia Grace, with husband Mike Tindall. Zara and Peter are the children of the queen’s eldest daughter, Princess Anne. Anne and her husband decided against titles for their children.
- And, of course, there’s Prince George Alexander Louis and the littlest royal, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, the grandchildren of the queen’s eldest son, Prince Charles.
It’s easy to get lost in the adorable family photo. (They swear Mia picking up her great-granny’s purse was spontaneous – she really steals the scene.) But here’s what stands out for me: the royal family now includes kids named Mia, Isla, and Savannah!
Perhaps royal names have always been more subject to trends than I recognize, and they only feel conventional with the passing of time. Or maybe it’s no surprise that the least traditional names belong to Princess Anne’s kids, who are privileged, but not titled.
Still, I think that it’s a signal that the world has really changed as regards names. There’s simply more freedom to choose unconventional names than ever before, even if your family gatherings take place at Buckingham Palace.
- This is a really funny idea – and so true! That baby name is so common, nobody uses it anymore.
- I could read this thread of Names on Nameberry that make you go WOW! forever. Actually, I could – it’s over 500 pages! Theo Everest, Zoe Caterina, Edith Primrose – there’s something to swoon over on every page.
- This Names for Real post came at the exactly right moment, because it features an Emma Darling. That’s exactly what I mean by going big in the middle spot, and it coincided with my post about 13 cool middle names.
- I’m fascinated by punctuation, diacritical marks, and other parts of how names function in an increasingly global, database-driven world. Nancy has another story along these lines, all about China’s middle dot dilemma.
- UNICEF created a virtual child to illustrate the plight of war victims. They gave her a name, too: Sofia. Sofia was chosen because it’s universal, and so powerful – we all know a child with the name.
- LOVE this story, a daughter named Skye for a grandfather who was a pilot. Found via the ever marvelous Name News.
- You know when people insist that parents ought to give their kids normal names? There ought to be a law, and all that? This is the flipside of that kind of thinking: Breton names were long outlawed in France, and this family was not able to legally registered their six youngest children for decades. Non-registration isn’t just an inconvenience. As Nancy explained, it meant no driver’s licenses or voting in elections or getting married. While there will always be a handful of names that seem beyond the pale – like the sad story of baby Cyanide – too many of these rules feel discriminatory in the worst possible ways.
- Meanwhile, some in Russia are pondering a law to limit crazy baby names. I get it, because, well, stories like the one about baby Cyanide. But where’s the line between flagging names that are deeply problematic and those that are just plain different?
- Thanks to Jennie for sharing this story about a family and the unusual names they chose for their children. This is so true: “The fact is, the draw to a particular baby name can be powerful, and its overrides concerns about giving your child an unusual name.”
- I think this concept that Kate has talked about is perhaps the most useful. She talks about “names foreign to Christian sensibility,” an idea defined in Roman Catholic canon law, and also acknowledges that those names will change by time and place. Obviously, we’re not all Catholic or Christian, but it seems like there’s room for a similar idea about names foreign to human dignity. Except that I’m not sure it’s an enforceable concept by any means, and what if officials decide to ban names on grounds that are, ultimately, discriminatory. It’s one thing to question the parents’ intentions when naming a child Adolf Hitler. But would we have more incidents like the Tennessee judge who changed a child’s name from Messiah? Or worse, would names that reflect a minority heritage be questioned? Reyansh, Yaretzi, or Yehuda all seem like names that could be dismissed as “weird names” to the uninformed. So I remain on the side of no laws, please. (But please don’t name your baby Lucifer. I get it. But it’s still a no.)
- Swistle tackled the question of what to do if the name acquired a terrible association afterwards – like Isis. Because Isis was just fine not so long ago. And now? It would raise a few eyebrows.
Wow! How did this week get so heavy? Let’s end with this video You Can’t Name the Baby That! A Video for my Niece. Her pregnant sister plays along with all of the vlogger’s protests: “So because of a girl at work, who took your parking spot once, we can’t call her Claire?” Everyone who has ever gotten any comments on their future children’s potential names will get a laugh out of this. (So, you know, everybody!)
That’s all for this week. As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!