The recent abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in favor of her son, Willem-Alexander, has put the Dutch royals in the spotlight.
For all my royal watching, I haven’t paid close attention to their names. Maybe it is because all of the men seem to be called William. Or perhaps it because the House of Orange keeps a pretty low profile as European monarchies go.
Or maybe I’ve just been lazy.
Because now that I look, there are some truly appealing choices in recent generations. While family names dominate, and an astonishing number of monarchs have answered to William, there are some fascinating choices sprinkled in, too. And Dutch names always fascinate – enough that I wade through Voornamelijk and Vernoeming via Google translate on a regular basis.
The royal favorites are nothing like their national Top Ten, which is chock full of single-syllable gems like Tess and Bram.
But it’s an intriguing list nonetheless. Read on for some of the most interesting picks.
Dutch Royal Names: Princes, Counts & Kings
William – He’s the alpha dog, the most commonly used name. But could the new monarch put Willem in the spotlight? It’s the authentically Dutch version. Actor Willem Dafoe has boosted the name in the US, but Willem remains a distinctive, unusual choice.
Casimir – The name of a Polish saint and a quartet of kings, this Slavic name is surprisingly well-established with the family. I’m guessing it was imported thanks to the Russian-born Queen Anna, wife of William II. Their son, born in 1822, was known as Ernst Casimir. It was a popular combination amongst the German House of Nassau, too.
Claus-Casimir – The only boy born in the current generation, Claus-Casimir is Prince Constantijn’s son, nephew of the new king. His full name is Claus-Casimir Bernhard Marius Max, but he’s called Casimir.
Constatijn – The younger brother of the new king wears the Dutch form of Constantine. Again, the Eastern-leaning name is something of a surprise.
Ernest – Now this one feels like the kind of clunky rarity you’d expect to hear on a Dutch royal.
Floris – Youngest son of Margriet, nephew of the recently abdicated queen and cousin to the new king. There aren’t any Flor- names in English for boys, though the Latin Florentius was originally used for men and there was a third century Saint Florian.
Frederick – A solidly royal choice, found in many a noble house.
Friso – Truly a Dutch heritage choice, it refers to Friesland – a province in the northern part of the nation. The youngest brother of the current king was baptized Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David. Friso was seriously injured in an accident more than a year ago, and remains in a coma.
Henry – Just like Frederick, this is a natural on the family tree of any royal clan.
Lodewijk – I’m intrigued by this Dutch form of Ludovic. It’s typcially Anglicized as just plain Louis, but I’m a big fan of Ludovic.
Dutch Royal Names: Princesses, Countesses & Queens
Catharina-Amalia – Now that her dad is the king, Amalia is the heiress apparent, now styled the Princess of Orange. This makes her the first woman to hold the title in her own right. Her full name is Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria.
Alexia – The new king’s second daughter answers to Alexia Juliana Marcela Laurentien. Juliana is her after great grandmother, the queen before Beatrix. Laurentien comes from after her aunt by marriage. It feels authentically Dutch, and I suppose it is. Laurentien is a smoosh of her parents’ names – Laurens and Jantien.
Ariane – The new king’s third and youngest daughter. Ariane Wilhelmina Maxima Ines.
Eliane – Vowel names are huge for the current generation. All three of the current king’s daughter have A names, and E is big, too. Floris and his wife Aimee gave this French saint’s name to their daughter, Eliane Sophia Carolina. She’s rare in the US, but would fit right in with Genevieve and Elise.
Eloise – Constantijn’s firstborn, Eloise Beatrix Sophie Laurence. Love seeing Laurence on a girl. (It’s feminine in French; Laurent is the masculine form.)
Irene – The former queen’s little sister was named Irene Emma Elisabeth. Her name has a great backstory. She was born while war threatened, but European leaders were still working for peace. That’s why the Dutch royal is named after a Greek goddess. Her marriage to the pretender to the Spanish throne caused a scandal, since Irene converted to Roman Catholicism. The marriage didn’t last, and her four children grew up in the Netherlands: Carlos Xavier, Margarita Maria Beatrix, Jaime Bernardo, and Maria Carolina Cristina. Margarita has two daughters of her own: Julia Carolina Catharina and Paola Cecilia Laurentien – interesting to see Laurentien popping up again!
Laurentien – I’m fascinated by this one. She’s the wife of Constantijn, born Petra Laurentien, but known by her middle name. Laurentien is a portmanteau of her parents’ names: dad Laurens and mom Jantien.
Leonore – Constantijn’s youngest is Leonore Marie Irene Enrica.
Luana – Friso’s daughter with wife Mabel is named Emma Luana Ninette Sophie, and known by her first middle name. One of her godmothers is Italian politician Emma Bonino – could that be the source of her given name?
Magali Margriet Eleonoor – Probably my favorite combination of this list, the name of Floris and Aimee’s older daughter.
Marijke – The childhood nickname of Maria Christina, also called Princess Christina since adulthood. Another of Beatrix’s younger sisters.
Margriet – Sister to the recently abdicated queen, Margriet Francisca was born during World War II, while her family was exiled in Canada during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Margriet’s name comes from the marguerite – a flower symbolizing Dutch resistance to the Nazi regime.
Wilhelmina – The former queen, mother of Beatrix and grandmother to Willem-Alexander. Her full name was Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria.
Zaria – Like sister Luana, Joanna Zaria Nicoline Milou is known by her second name. Nicoline is for their aunt, Mabel’s sister.
Friso’s and Mabel’s daughters’ names have a nice synergy between them.
Emma Luana Ninette Sophie
Joanna Zaria Nicoline Milou
FIRST NAMES: Emma and Joanna reference Dutch royalty, Queen Emma and Prince Johan Friso, along with other Johan’s in the past.
SECOND NAMES: Both girls are called by their second names, Luana and Zaria, which are non-traditional Dutch names.
THIRD NAMES: These names both start with “N” and are in honor of members of Mabel’s family. Ninette refers to Mabel’s maternal grandmother, Antoinette Petronella van Woerkom and Nicoline is the name of Mabel’s sister.
FOURTH NAMES: Both “Sophie” and “Milou” honor historic figures in the Dutch royal family. Princess Sophie of the Netherlands (8 April 1824 – 23 March 1897) was the only daughter of King William II. And as has been mentioned, Milou was the moniker for Princess Marie-Louise of Hesse-Cassel, the wife of Johan Willem Friso.
What a fun read! Always interesting to see how non-Dutch speakers look at ‘our’ Dutch names.
Most royal names didn’t get any following in The Netherlands, which surprised me. There are only a few dozen Willem-Alexanders, all born around the birth of the (then) crown prince. The birth of some of the princesses resulted in a small peak in the popularity of their names: Alexia, Ariane, Eloise en Luana. All others: no effect at all. The only festivities that were more or (often) less influential were some engagements: Marilène (1999), Máxima (2000) en Mabel (2002).
And one other interesting thing: many name fans were intrigued by Luana and Zahra. These names are seen as slightly trashy in The Netherlands, especially with the weird spelling. Had they been named Lou-Anne and Sarah, no one would have thought twice, but I think most of us prefer their first names, Joanna and Emma.
And let’s face it, what’s not to like about Emma 🙂
Oh, fascinating! So interesting to hear about Luana/Zaria. I didn’t realize they had that reputation …
And yes, I had the sense that royal names are really off-trend. But I just plain love Dutch names, both the royals and the current popular ones.
Very interesting to read your thoughts, especially on how Luana and Zaria are perceived in the Netherlands. Along these lines, much is made of the fact that Mabel took per stepfather’s name, changing her last name from “Los” to “Wisse Smit” which is apparently more high brow. I have also read that Princess “Anita” sounds odd to the Dutch ear, as “Anita” is a very ordinary name. And I agree that Emma is lovely; Emma and Sophie are currently two of the top girls names in the Netherlands.
Maarten van der Meer says
Great article! And thank you for mentioning my blog 🙂
Prince Ernst Casimir was probably named after his ancestor Count Ernst Casimir of Nassau-Dietz (1573-1632), stadtholder (governor) of the Dutch provinces of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe.
Prince Constantijn was named after his godfather, former King Constantine II of Greece.
Prince Floris’s name was probaby inspired by Count Floris V of Holland (1254-1296), an important figure in Dutch history.
Countess Luana’s name has no special significance. Her parents chose it because they liked it.
I don’t have Dutch ancestry, but I love Dutch names so much. I will always be a little sad that I don’t have the “family heritage” excuse for giving my kids any of those gloriously j-heavy names like Karstjen or and Antje. I might squeeze one into the middle name spot if I’m feeling brave. Willem, Casimir and Floris are all really interesting from the boys side, and I adore Margriet.
Wilhelmina – is a former queen, however she’s grandmother of Beatrix and great-grandmother to Willem-Alexander. The three princesses all skip a generation with their first middle name. I never knew Wilhelmina’s middle names. Interesting to see how certain (middle)names are being recycled and others simply not used again. Many Carolina’s and Margriet/Margarita and some Sophie/Sophia, but no new Helena’s.
I’m intrigued by Wilhelmina, and have been mulling it over for a possible girl’s name — I’d love to honor my darling brother, a William, and the nickname possibilities (Willa, Mina) are darling. But it’s a bit of a mouthful. I’m curious about others’ thoughts on it.
And Beatrix has always been a favorite! I’m surprised it’s not yet in the top 1000 — it seems like it has all the ingredients to be on the upswing right now, alongside names like Hazel.
The “hel” bit of Wilhelmina makes it old-fashioned and more of a mouthful i.m.o.
Willemina however sounds like a valid option in English.
I ADORE the name Wilhelmina, and would love to use it myself [my husband is a William], but my mother hates it and I’m afraid of mispronunciations [people seem to want to say it as Willamina instead of how it looks].
I think Willa or Willow would make a lovely tribute name for William. I do find myself pronouncing Wilhelmina as Willamina, too. Especially as your brother is William and not Wilhelm.
Luana’s first name was probably also inspired by her great-great-great grandmother, Queen Emma.
As for Luana’s sister, Zaria, I once read that her first name (Joanna) was after her father, and her fourth name (Milou) was a nickname for Princess Marie-Louise of Hesse-Cassel, the wife of Johan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange, who was the founder of the House of Orange-Nassau. I am sad to say that I cannot find official documentation now of the name inspirations; those articles seem to have disappeared from the internet.
Maarten van der Meer says
Milou indeed refers to Princess Marie-Louise of Hesse-Cassel, who was known to her Frisian subjects as “Maaike Meu” (Auntie Molly). Her husband, Prince Johan Willem Friso, inspired Zaria’s father Johan Friso’s name.
Zaria is the name of the goddess of beauty and of the guardians of the night (aka the Auroras) in Slavic mythology.
Some lovely names here. Casimir is one that I love but, as I have no Slavic ancestry whatsoever, not sure I’d actually use it…maybe for a fictional character.