Yesterday was an historic moment. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a royal prince yesterday. This was the first time since Queen Victoria had three direct heirs to the throne. First in line was The Prince of Wales (Edward VII), then came her grandson The Duke of York (George V) and her great-grandson Prince Edward of York (Edward VIII). Queen Victoria actually lived to see George VI, Edward VIII’s brother, but there are not any pictures of her with her son, grandson and both great-grandsons.
There has not been too many monarchs who have lived to see an heir in the third generation. Louis XIV of France and Navarre was one such monarch. He lived to see his great-grandchildren. However, he also outlived most of them and his successor, Louis XV, was one of his great-grandchildren. Wilhelm I, German Emperor & King of Prussia also lived to see three generations of successors. In 1882 his grandson, Prince Wilhelm, future German Emperor Wilhelm II, gave birth to the future Crown Prince Wilhelm. Sadly, Crown Prince Wilhelm was not able to inherit the Royal and Imperial thrones due to the monarchy in Germany being abolished in 1918 at the end of World War I.
It seemed like we waited for a long time for the Duchess of Cambridge to give birth to the new little prince. Now the wait begins to see what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will name the future King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
So what will the name be? George and James seem to be popular choices right now. Both names have historical precedence in British history. George is the name Elizabeth II’s father chose to reign under, although he was named Albert after having the bad luck of being born on December 14, 1895, the 34 anniversary of the death of his great-grandfather, Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria. James is the name of Catherine’s brother (as well as the Duke of Cambridge’s cousin, James Viscount Severn, son of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex).
If the name James is chosen we will see if Winston Churchill’s suggestion that the highest ordinal between England and Scotland should be used. When England and Scotland shared a monarch they used an ordinal, or regnal number, for both crowns. For example, James VI of Scotland was also James I of England. His grandson was James VII of Scotland and James II of England. This is the only name affected. When Charles I came to both the English and Scottish thrones neither England or Scotland had had a king by that name before. William III of England was William II of Scotland. His wife, Mary II, was also Mary II of England and Scotland, with Mary Stuart being the first queen named Mary in Scotland and Mary Tudor being the first queen named Mary in England.
When the countries were united in 1707 the monarchs were settled in England and Scotland was often ignored by the monarchs. They have followed the English system of numbering kings. The first thee kings of the House of Hanover did not have a problem with their regnal number since neither England or Scotland had kings named George before. There seems to be no controversy in Scotland with William IV and his regnal umber. The first time we begin to see some conflict is with the reigns of both Edward VII and Edward VIII. In Scotland there were times thier regnal numbers were omitted even in the Scottish Church. This issue did become more prominent with the reign of Elizabeth II. Since Elizabeth I of England never ruled over Scotland many in Scotland did not think she should be called Elizabeth II in Scotland. Many things such as mailboxes carrying the II in the royal cypher were defaced or destroyed. This is what prompted Winston Churchill to offer the solution that he did.
If the new baby prince is named James he will be called James VIII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain instead of James III. The name also carries a little controversy seeing that the pretender to the throne, James Francis, son of deposed king James II-VII of England and Scotland was also called James III-VIII by himself and his supporters. But that was centuries ago I am sure there wouldn’t be a problem now. It also follows that if the prince is named Richard, he will be Richard IV since there was not one named Richard who was king of Scotland. However, if he is named Robert or Alexander he would be Robert IV or Alexander IV since there have been three kings of Scotland with that name respectively.
Although we cannot predict the future the new little prince will not sit on the throne for a very long long time. Her Majesty the Queen is still going strong at the age of 87. Her son, the Prince of Wales is also healthy at the age of 64 and at the age of 31 the Duke of Cambridge will also likely see a long life. So it is possible that the new royal prince will not sit on the throne until he is in his 50s or 60s.
It will be interesting to see what the new baby will be named. Whatever the name shall be I wish the new baby prince a long healthy and happy life!