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Royal naming traditions limit parental autonomy

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On April 23, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, welcomed their third baby into the world, Prince Louis Arthur Charles. Louis joins older siblings Charlotte Elizabeth Diana and George Alexander Louis in the royal family. While we love watching them grow up, it is baffling to imagine these tiny little children are third, fourth and fifth in line to the throne. One day, they might be the representatives for their country. Because of this, William and Kate didn’t exactly have much freedom in naming their children, as evident by the ridiculously long and old-fashioned names of their three children. 

Heritage and tradition are extremely important for the royal family, including names. Most royals have three to seven names, all of which are tied to the royal family. 

 “I think because the child is going to be the third in line to the throne, they have to maintain all this tradition,” Pauline Maclaran, a professor of Marketing and Consumer Research at Royal Holloway said.

Not only do they have to think about their future as a possible king or queen, but William and Kate have to worry about pleasing the family and nodding to the right people. They also have to worry about the impressions each name will make, in terms of cultural significance, leadership and trust. Apparently, James is a name that makes a significant impression and Arthur immediately establishes likeability as people remember the legendary King Arthur and his tales of chivalry. 

But, names help us define ourselves as individuals. My last name is Anderson, which is one of the most common last names in the United States, but my first name, Kathleen/Katie, differentiates me from the rest of the Anderson population. The royal babies will grow up being just another Henry or George or Elizabeth or William or Louis. The youngest son, Louis, and the oldest, George, even share the name Louis. All the children will share a name with someone in the royal family, and suddenly be associated with that individual. How can children make a name for themselves if it isn’t even their own? 

Every name must tie back to someone in the royal lineage. For example, Prince Louis’ names each have a connection to the family. Louis comes from William’s father and grandfather. His middle names, Arthur and Charles, come from William and his father. You can’t tell me it doesn’t get confusing at family reunions. 

The royal children already grow up under the limelight of the media. They will always have to act a certain way, live up to expectations, and be royalty. When they attend school, everyone will know them. 

People even voted for their favorite names on various sites and millions of people had opinions on their names. Of course, William and Kate didn’t have to take strangers opinions into consideration, but they did have to listen to the Queen and her court who were allowed immense opinion on the children’s names. They have to choose the name of their own baby based on political opinions and have a tiny pool to choose from. Yet, if they were to announce a name outside the royal norm, there would be an uproar within the monarchy and beyond.

Parents should have the freedom to name their children whatever they choose, including royal parents. If they love a name not in the royal family name book, why should they have to separate themselves from it? What’s wrong with a name outside the family? Change it up a bit, let the new parents make their own traditions for once. 

Kathleen Anderson ‘20 (anders43@stolaf.edu) is from Saint Paul, Minn. She majors in English and music.