The True Story Behind These Royal Baby Names

Entering into the sacred and serious commitment of marriage with a person you love and then expressing that love by having a child together is, or ought to be, a joyful and precious experience. A brand-new human extending the family line and carrying on the family name is something worth celebrating, no matter the social status of the mother and father. 

It's a way bigger deal when someone from the elite, ceremonial ruling classes has a baby, however — the birth of a new royal offspring is internationally newsworthy, as that innocent little newborn could one day grow up to wield theoretical and political power over a nation or a once grand but now shrinking empire, such as the United Kingdom. But even the blue-blooded mom and dad of a blue-blooded baby face the same conundrum as less prominent new parents: what to name the baby. Royals have to pick carefully, with an eye toward both history and family connection. Here then are the meanings behind these royal baby names.

Lilibet Diana, born to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, is named after her grandmother and great-grandmother

On June 4, 2021, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, who formerly worked as an actor on "Suits" and as a briefcase-wielding model on "Deal or No Deal," gave birth to her second child with Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. According to the Los Angeles Times, daughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and instantly became eighth in the line of succession to the British throne. As of publication, Meghan has since been resting at home with her growing family.

Like Beth, Liz, or Eliza, Lilibet is a variation or truncated form of Elizabeth, which means that this royal baby was named after her great-grandmother and sitting monarch of the U.K., Queen Elizabeth II. Interestingly, Lilibet was a childhood nickname for the future queen, first used by her father, King George VI, still used by other members of the royal family as a term of endearment for her, according to People. Lilibet, or Lili, as Harry and Meghan call her, has a middle name of Diana, which comes from Prince Harry's late mother, Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. Apparently, there's also a lot of drama surrounding the name.

Let's unlock the meaning of Archie Harrison, son of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

In May 2019, just under a year after their storybook wedding, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, youngest son of crown successor Prince Charles, welcomed their first child, per the royal family's website: a 7-pound, 3-ounce baby boy seventh in line to the throne whom they named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. And his name is actually just Archie — it's not a shortened version of something more formal like Archibald or Archer. According to BBC News, Archie doesn't have any immediate connection to or profound significance for the royal family — Harry and Meghan apparently just liked the name, which has consistently been listed among the most popular and widely used in England for the past two decades.

A name of Scottish and English origin, Archie means "genuine," according to Babycentre. The little guy's middle name, Harrison, though, is apparently a nod to his father — it means "Harry's son," even though Prince Harry's real first name is Henry.

Prince George, eldest child of Prince William and Kate Middleton, is the latest in a long line of Georges

The line of succession for the British throne works on a first-born basis. When Queen Elizabeth II dies, her oldest son, Prince Charles, is set to become king, and his successor is his first-born son, Prince William. Next comes his eldest, Prince George, who was born in July 2013 to William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, per BBC News. A day after his birth, the boy who would be king was officially given the title of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. According to The Guardian, however, the child's full name is Prince George Alexander Louis.

Likely years from now, when George becomes king, he'll be the seventh British monarch with that name, according to Hello! The most recent King George was King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II's father, who died in 1952. The young royal's first middle name, Alexander, recognizes the Queen, herself, as Alexandra is one of the monarch's two middle names. George shares his other middle name, Louis, with his grandfather, Prince Charles. The name comes from Lord Louis Mountbatten, a member of the royal family who was assassinated by the Irish Republican Army in 1979, per History.

Princess Charlotte, daughter of Prince William and Kate Middleton, is sort of named after her grandfather

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, expanded their family in May 2015 with the birth of their second child, and first daughter, according to CNN. A few days later, the baby's birth certificate was registered and publicly released, revealing a full title and name of Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge.

According to the Associated Press, William and Kate kept their daughter's many names squarely within their families (via the El Paso Times). Charlotte is a feminization of Charles, as in Prince Charles, Prince William's father (and Charlotte's paternal grandfather). It's also found on the other side of her lineage: Charlotte is the middle name of Kate's sister, Pippa Middleton.

Charlotte's middle names pay tribute to two powerful and beloved female relatives. Elizabeth likely comes from Queen Elizabeth II, the ruler of the U.K. and Charlotte's great-grandmother, while Diana derives from Princess Diana, William's mother, affectionately known as "the people's princess," who died in 1997.

The middle name of Prince Louis, second son of Prince William and Kate Middleton, has mythological roots

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, brought their third child into the world in April 2018. As of 2021, according to Good Housekeeping, his Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge sits fifth in the line of succession to the crown, just after his grandfather, Prince Charles, his father, William, and his older brother and sister, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Louis shares a name with his eldest sibling, in that Louis is also one of George's middle names. Louis is of the same origin and pays tribute to the same relative: Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was killed by agents of the Irish Republication Army in 1979, per History.

As for Louis's immediate middle name Arthur, that's a name in service to English mythology. The legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table figure largely in British literature and folklore, and members of the royal family have often adopted the name Arthur. Both William and Charles count it among their full, official names, and 19th century monarch Queen Victoria named her son Arthur in 1850. Prince Louis's other middle name is much more straightforward: He's named after his grandfather, Charles.

Zara Phillips Tindall, daughter of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, was named by her delighted uncle

Queen Elizabeth II's second-oldest child and only daughter, Princess Anne, and her now ex-husband, Olympics equestrian Captain Mark Phillips, welcomed a daughter, Zara Phillips, in 1981. The first granddaughter of the Queen was neither given a staid, tried-and-true name by her parents, nor did her parents name her at all, surprisingly. 

When this royal offspring was born at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, according to Hello!, Princess Anne's brother, Prince Charles, came to visit. "The baby made a rather sudden and positive arrival," Anne once said, "and my brother thought Zara was an appropriate name." The family claims that Zara is a name of Greek origin (Anne and Charles' father, Prince Philip, was a member of the Greek royal family) that means "bright as the dawn." However, according to Good Housekeeping, it's more likely derived from a French word that means "light," which could be interpreted to mean "as fast as the speed of light," reflecting baby Zara's apparently quick entry into the world.

The rest of her name, however, falls more in line with royal tradition. Zara's middle name, Anne, comes from her mother, Princess Anne, and her other middle name, Elizabeth, is a nod to her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. As for her now-last name Tindall, Zara married rugby star Mike Tindall in 2011.

Princess Beatrice, daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, almost had a totally different name

Second only to Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, were the most covered and intensely scrutinized British royal couple of the 1980s and 1990s. It was quite newsworthy then when Andrew and Sarah started a family. Per English Monarchs, Princess Beatrice was born in August 1988 at Portland Hospital in London, her full name later revealed to be Beatrice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor.

According to the Associated Press, Beatrice got her name from a royal born a century earlier — 19th century monarch Queen Victoria had nine children, the youngest of whom was named Beatrice (via the Los Angeles Times). A tabloid reported at the time that Andrew and Sarah had initially decided on the name Annabel, but that Queen Elizabeth II nixed that on account of it being "too yuppie" and suggested the name Beatrice, instead, during a family vacation. Beatrice is also partially named after her grandmother. One of her middle names is Elizabeth, the other Mary, one of her first name namesake's middle names.

Princess Eugenie, the sister of Princess Beatrice, got her name from a Spanish royal

Two years after Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, welcomed Princess Beatrice into the world, they grew their family again with the birth of Princess Eugenie in 1990, according to the Associated Press. Moments after she made her traditional royal baby debut, swaddled in a blanket and held by her parents outside the London hospital where she was born, Buckingham Palace announced the child's full name and title: Princess Eugenie Victoria Helena.

Eugenie sounds like a modern, less traditional name, but it's actually an old one kicking around the family. Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Beatrice gave birth to a baby named Victoria Eugenie of Battenburg, who married into the Spanish royal family in 1906. Present-day Eugenie got her first middle name, Victoria, from Queen Victoria, while Helena was the name of that monarch's third daughter.

And, according to The Sun, "Eugenie" is widely and commonly mispronounced. It's not "Eugene-ee," but rather "You-JUNN-ee."

Prince Harry and Prince William were named out of a compromise

Born in 1982 and 1984 respectively, Prince William and Prince Harry grew up in the spotlight and positioned themselves as modern, progressive, and more open representatives of the British royal family as the aging institution moves headlong into the 21st century. Part of the attention bestowed on the brothers comes from William's direct line to the throne one day (he's just behind his father, Prince Charles, and grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II), but the public is likely so interested in these two because they're the sons of the beloved, photogenic, and tragically departed Princess Diana.

In Andrew Morton's "Diana: Her True Story" (via PopSugar) Diana recounted that she was responsible for her kids' first names. "I chose William and Harry, but Charles did the rest," she said, adding that she rejected her then-husband's choices of Albert and Arthur because they sounded "too old." According to Royal Central, the name the couple agreed on for their firstborn, William, comes from Prince William of Gloucester, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II who died in a plane crash at age 30 in 1972. As for Harry, his name is a shortened version of Henry, a common name for kings throughout English history.

Lady Louise Windsor, Queen Elizabeth's youngest granddaughter, gets her name from 19th century relations

Queen Elizabeth II has four children, the youngest being Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. In 1999, he married the former Sophie Rhys-Jones, now the Countess of Wessex, and, in 2003, she gave birth to the couple's first child and the Queen's youngest granddaughter, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor

According to Cosmopolitan, her full name is Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor, with her first name and all three of her middle names boasting major familial significance. The name Louise is from Princess Louise, the sixth of nine children (and fourth daughter) born to Queen Victoria in the 19th century. Alice is a reference to Lady Louise's paternal great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, the mother of Prince Philip, who became a nun. Elizabeth is a clear tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, while Lady Louise's third and final middle name, Mary, was the name of Queen Elizabeth's paternal grandmother, Mary of Teck.

James, Viscount Severn, Lady Louise's younger brother, gets his name from several royals and their homeland

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, grew their family again by one in December 2007. James, Viscount Severn, is the youngest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II, born in a Surrey, U.K. hospital just before Christmas, according to The Sun. Under an arrangement with the Queen, according to Town & Country, Edward's children received titles befitting the offspring (or issue) of an earl, so he's referred to as Viscount Severn, not as a prince. Viscount is a title, Severn a chosen name, which derives from the name of a river in Wales, the ancestral homeland of James' mother, according to Express.

The Viscount's full name is an appropriately royal-sounding mouthful: James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor. James is also the name of King James I, ruler of England and Scotland in the 1600s, while, according to Express, Alexander comes from King Alexander of Greece, uncle of Prince Philip, the namesake for the Viscount's second middle name. Theo is a maternal family name – Theo Rhys-Jones was the name of his mother Sophie's paternal grandfather.

August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, daughter of Princess Eugenie, is named for an old queen's husband

Five months after her cousin, Prince Harry, wed Meghan Markle at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, Princess Eugenie got married at the same venue to Jack Brooksbank, according to Town & Country. The royal and brand ambassador for George Clooney's Casamigos Tequila (per Hello!) brought their first child into the world in February 2021. 

According to Eugenie's Instagram account, they gave their baby boy the full name of August Philip Hawke Brooksbank. Per Hello!, August gets his first name from Prince Albert, the consort of 19th century ruler Queen Victoria — his middle name was Augustus. The origin of Philip is a bit closer to the present: August's great-grandfather, Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh. The child's other middle name, Hawke, is from his father's lineage. Per Cosmopolitan, Jack Brooksbank's paternal great-great-great-great-grandfather was 18th century religious leader Reverend Edward Hawke Brooksbank.