The historical significance of the new royal baby’s name

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Moya Crockett
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The new prince’s name has plenty of connections to British and European royal history. 

After days of speculation, Kensington Palace confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have settled on a name for their newborn son: Louis Arthur Charles.

Given that the Royal Family almost always recycles names, especially when naming babies close to the top of the line of succession, Kate and William were never going to call their third child Zane or River. (Royals who are further away from the throne have significantly more freedom: William’s cousin Peter named his daughters Savannah and Isla.)

But why did the Cambridges settle on Louis Arthur Charles? Below, we’ve dug into how those names relate to British and European royal history. Be warned: things get a little bloody. 


Prince William’s great-great-grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg

The baby’s first name is obviously a favourite of Kate and William: it’s also one of the middle names of his older brother, George Alexander Louis.

It’s likely a tribute – at least in part – to Prince William’s great-great-grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg. That Prince Louis was a German royal who joined the British royal family when he married one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, and had a distinguished career in the British navy. He relinquished his German titles in 1917 due to anti-German sentiment in Britain during World War I, and died in London in 1921.

That Prince Louis had a son, Louis Mountbatten, who was Prince Philip’s uncle as well as a second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II (do try to keep up). The last viceroy of India and a British naval officer like his father, Mountbatten was killed by the IRA in a bomb attack on his yacht in 1979.

Louis is also one of William’s middle names, and the name of more than a dozen kings of France. It was the 71st most popular name in England and Wales in 2016 (the most recent year for which official figures are available), having been given to 911 baby boys. 


Arthur was one of the middle names of the Queen’s father, George VI, pictured with her in 1946 

Arthur is a favourite royal middle name, having been bestowed upon Prince William (William Arthur Philip Louis), Prince Charles (Charles Philip Arthur George), and the Queen’s father, George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George). 

It’s also increasingly popular with modern parents in the UK: it was the 30th most common name in 2016, having shot up in the rankings by 90% since 2006. 

Henry VII, the King of England between 1485 and 1509, had an ill-fated son named Arthur. He became Prince of Wales at five, married Catherine of Aragon aged 15, and died six months later; the question of whether they ever consummated their marriage would later be exploited by King Henry VIII to enable him to divorce Catherine, leading to the separation of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.

Going back even further in history, King Henry II had a grandson named Arthur, who became Duke of Brittany in 1196. That Arthur is believed to have been murdered by his uncle, King John of England, because that’s the sort of thing royals did to each other in the 12th century.

While the name might call to mind the famous King Arthur, this is unlikely to be a reason for the royals’ fondness for it – since that Arthur wasn’t actually a real person, but rather the stuff of medieval legend. 


A 19th century portrait of the Roman emperor Charles the Great, otherwise known as Charlemagne 

This is clearly a nod to Prince Charles, the new baby’s grandfather and the next heir to the throne. So far, there have been two kings named Charles. The first, Charles I, was a controversial figure who ruled England, Scotland and Ireland in the 17th century; he was ultimately executed for treason in 1649, towards the end of the English Civil War.

His son, Charles II, then took on the throne, and ruled until his death in 1685. He was a much more popular monarch than his father, and was known as the ‘Merry Monarch’.

The name Charles is popular in royal families around Europe and has been since the 8th century reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Great, more commonly known as Charlemagne. Charlemagne’s first son was flatteringly named Pepin the Hunchback – a name that was surely next on Will and Kate’s list. 

Images: Getty Images