Last week I discussed double names. This week I will discuss nicknames. Nicknames are common and they seem to be common in every family. In my family I remember my mother not caring for nicknames and in my family I seem to have been the only member to have received a nickname. Well, that is not entirely true. I have an elder sister whom all her friends call her Cathy but family members call her Catherine. It is the opposite for me. All my friends call me Bill but all my family members call me Billy. I am pushing 50 and they still call me Billy!! Grr.
Royalty is no exception. I will mainly be referring to Queen Victoria’s family and extended family and their descendants in this entry. I can conceive that even those royals with a double name had nicknames. I do know that is true. Edward VII, called Albert-Edward, when he was Prince of Wales, was called Bertie in the family. His son, Albert-Victor, was known as Eddy in the family. King George VI was actually named Albert and took the name George after the abdication crisis in order to sooth the crisis by giving the monarchy a sense of continuity when Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936. George VI was also called Bertie in the family. And speaking of Edward VIII he was called David in the family. According to the biography on Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler the name David was an after thought and many reasons were given for the name David ranging from trying to gratify the Marchionese of Waterford and even some vague prophecy about a great king over the water named David. The book mentions that even from birth he was called David within the family. However, no reasons were given why his last name, out of a long string of names, was chosen.
Like the name Bertie in the above paragraph some nicknames get handed down. Princess Margaret of Connaught, daughter of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (himself a son of Queen Victoria) was nicknamed Daisy as was her granddaughter, the current Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II. I think also specific nicknames developed to distinguish family members with the same first name. The above mentioned cases of Albert-Edward and Albert-Victor are a good examples. Sometimes nicknames came from their personalities. Princess Alix of Hess and by Rhine was called Sunny when she was younger. However after the early death of her mother, Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria, Alix became more sullen and shy and withdraw. As an adult married to Czar Nicholas II of Russia (and known as Alexandra he name upon conversion to Russian orthodoxy) she was called Alicky by her husband.
I could go on and on with all the nicknames and I will leave a list of nicknames at the end of this blog post but I want to finish this post with a bit of a rant. To my knowledge all of these nicknames were private and not used publicly. To have done so would have expressed a degree on familiarity with the royals that I don’t think would have been acceptable during the Victorian and later eras. So I have a little beef with Prince Harry of Wales. I think this is one of the first occasions that a royal nickname has been used both within the family and by the general public. Personally much prefer Henry to Harry. I have nothing against the name Harry I just like Henry better. It is a name with a long royal tradition in Britain. I had once remember reading that the queens uncle, the late Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester also held the nickname Harry, but that is was used privately. I cannot find that information to confirm it, so I may be wrong. Oh well, that is my little rant.
So nicknames are as common within royal families as they are in other families. I will leave you now with a list of nicknames for many royals of the Victorian era. This list is not exhaustive.
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain ~ Lilibet
Victoria, Princes Royal ~ Vicky (she was called Pussy when very young)
Wilhelm II, German Emperor ~ Willy
Augusta-Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein ~ Dona
William, Duke of Clarence ~ Wills
Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh ~ Affie
Friedrich III, German Emperor ~ Fritz
Alexander III, Czar of Russia ~ Sasha
Helena of Great Britain ~ Lenchen
Victoria-Mary of Teck (Queen Mary) ~ May
Victoria-Melita of Edinburgh ~ Ducky
Beatrice of Edinburgh ~ Baby Bee
Victoria-Patricia of Connaught ~ Patsy
Charles-Edward, Duke of Albany (Carl-Eduard, Duke of Coburg) ~ Charlie
Caroline-Matilda of Albany-Coburg ~ Calma
Victoria-Eugenie of Battenberg ~ Ena
Elisabeth of Hess and by Rhine ~ Ella
Friedrich-Wilhelm of Hess and by Rhine ~ Frittie
Marie of Hess and by Rhine ~ May & Maly
Ernst-Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hess and by Rhine ~ Ernie
Nicholas II, Czar of Russia ~ Nicky
George V, King of Great Britain ~ Georgie.
I am sure there are others out there. Readers feel free to comment on the ones I have missed.