Around the time Once Upon a Time debuted, I compiled a list of names for fairytale princesses. Not names of fairytale princesses, like Aurora or Snow. No, these were names that could be worn by a fictional character from a romantic fantasy adventure, animated or otherwise.
It’s been a popular list over the years, but somehow I never wrote a boys’ version.
So many fairytale princes went nameless, or answered to things like Charming. Royal is too obvious, as is Kingsley. And names of actual princes – William, Henry, George, Frederick – seem like mainstream names that don’t quite hit the fairytale note.
So a fairytale prince name is masculine, but not conventionally so. They have a touch of daring and dashing about them – names for Olympic fencing champions, rather than NBA hoop stars. And while many of them are rare, they’re not all completely unknown in 2014 – some are quite stylish!
Bayard – I started out with Beringer on this list, but couldn’t stop thinking about the vineyard. So Bayard it is, with the handy short form Bay. There’s something dashing about Bayard, maybe because history gives us a celebrated sixteenth century knight called the Chevalier de Bayard, much monumented in France and referred to in literary works over the years, too.
Caspian – He’s already a fictional prince, so maybe this one is too obvious. But Caspian, as in the sea and the Chronicles of Narnia royal, hits exactly the right note.
Christian – Among the most popular names on this list, but one that works. He’s a royal name in Denmark, but in the English-speaking world, this one is more mainstream.
Esteban – Steve is an ordinary guy, familiar from Blue’s Clues to Minecraft. But Esteban is an import, the Spanish version of the name, and it feels distinctive enough to be a fairytale prince name. I like the even rarer Estavan or Estevan, too. Bonus? This name actually means crown.
Everard – The older form of Everett, Everard is quite rare circa 2014. But there’s something quite dashing about him, isn’t there? If Ev- names are big for both genders, from the endless string of Evie names for girls to Everett and even Everest, Everard merits consideration, too.
Flynn – Too Tangled? Too often mistaken for Finn? Maybe. And yet Errol Flynn lends this surname name the exact degree of dashing that a Fairytale Prince names requires.
Galien, Gallien – Anglo-Norman English produced some interesting names. Some stuck, while others faded away. Where did this one come from? Gallienus was Emperor of Rome in the third century, but I’m not sure if the two names are related. Still, this feels like a possibility circa 2014, especially with the rise of Gael, and the popularity of The Hunger Games’ handsome male character Gale.
Gervase, Gervais – Yes, Ricky Gervase is the comic genius behind The Office. But Saint Gervasius was an early martyr, and along with his twin brother Protasius, he’s the patron saint of Milan. Gervais is the French form, though it is nearly extinct in France today. Gervasio is the Italian, and plenty of other European languages offer a form – including the English Gervase. I’m pronouncing this one jer VAYS, which seems straightforward – and potentially wearable.
Kenelm – Another obscure, but legitimate name from English history in the key of Everard – in fact the same noble families used both names over the generations. Kenelm is less expected than Kenneth, and more dashing, too. Plus that ‘elm’ ending lends him just a hint of nature name, even though his roots are Old English, from cene – bold and helm – helmet, which makes him a cousin to William.
Maceo – Halle Berry’s baby boy received this obscure form of Matthew. It doesn’t quite scream fairytale prince – to me, he’s more of a fierce revolutionary or an artistic genius type – but depending on the prince, that might not be a contradiction.
Noble – Too obvious? Probably. But if girls can be Mercy and Grace and Temperance, why can’t boys be Loyal and Noble and True? And it is certainly a princely quality.
Olivier – Oliver is the cousin on The Brady Bunch, the orphan who asks, “Please sir, can I have some more?” Olivier is glitzier. Sure, he’s a go-to name for bad guys. But Olivier is too dashing to leave him to the villains. I can see him in shining armor just as easily.
Orion – The hunter from Greek myth, most famous as a constellation. And also a sound that could wear well for a fictional royal.
Paladin – Too literal? In Charlemagne’s court, there were a dozen high-ranking knights, known as paladins or peers. The word comes from a Latin term related to our word palace, and originally referred to a court official. Now the meaning is closer to warrior. It’s obscure, but I’m still on the fence about this one. Maybe in the middle.
Percival – Perseus is a hero, and Percy Jackson puts another spin on the Percy names. But Percival, borrowed from King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, has that out-of-our-time feeling that fits on this list.
Peregrine – Also spelled Peregrin, it’s best known as the given name of Hobbit Pippin Took, one of Frodo’s companions in The Lord of the Rings. Yes, Peregrine is elaborate. But so is Alexander. And Perry is a great nickname – that is, if you’re not all about Pip. There are plenty of saintly Peregrines to inspire.
Rafael, Raphael – An angel, a Renaissance master, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, too. A very small number of actual princes have answered to the name, but it isn’t common as a given name. A little bit dreamy, a little bit daring – Raphael screams fairytale prince to me.
Rainier – The most obviously real world princely name on this list, the late Prince Rainier III ruled the tiny nation of Monaco, and brought home Hollywood royalty to share his palace. Originally a Germanic name, it travelled through French to English. It didn’t survive in English, but French is the official language of Monaco, where Rainier is a thoroughly princely pick.
Sebastian – Yes, he’s definitely a popular choice for non-royal, real boys circa 2014 – Sebastian has ranked in the US Top 100 every year since 2000, and currently stands at #45. But there’s something romantic and imaginative about this name, even though he’s not as uncommon as some of the picks on this list.
Valor – Like Noble, this name could overdose on the obvious. But ever since Emile Hirsch named his son Valor, it has seemed like a possible up-and-comer. If Victor is a regular guy name, is Valor such a stretch? Certainly not for a fairytale prince!
What would you name a fairytale prince? Are there other names that should be included on this list? Which names are wearable for real, non-regal boys?