Craig Buchanan offers a rather comprehensive road-map to Royal ascendancy. Despite all the history the impending heir still may be best predicted by the TAB.
A little over a week ago, Shloss Nymphenburg made the sad announcement that Duke Franz of Bavaria (whom Jacobites and legitimists consider to be our rightful king, and publically acclaim as Francis II) had been diagnosed with cancer. His Royal Highness is receiving treatment, and the prognosis is said to be good. While we wish him a speedy recovery and a restoration to good health, we must concede that the attention of royal watchers the world over has shifted this morning to the usurping House of Windsor (or Mountbatten-Windsor, as Prince Charles looks likely to rename it when he ascends to the throne), and the announcement by that other palace that Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child. Speculation is doubtless rife already across the web as to what they will name the infant. I admit to having read none of it, but offer the following thoughts from the standpoint of one versed in British history, and possessed of a vague grasp of tradition.
Since biology tells us that there are two distinct possibilities for the heir to the heir to the heir – a girl, or a boy – and since each carries a distinct set of historical (and indeed constitutional) baggage, let us begin by splitting our discussion in twain, and consider the female options first.
It is worth noting from the outset that, if the Duchess is delivered of a girl, the infant will, under recent changes to the law, be the first female heir apparent (as opposed to heir presumptive), and will reign in her own right after her father, regardless of any male siblings who might follow. What that means in terms of this discussion is that, for the first time in British history, the royal couple will be naming a girl whom they know for certain will be queen.
Recent history provides us with a number of female names that we might fall back on. Elizabeth would allow the proud parents to commemorate both the child’s great-grandmother, and her great-great-grandmother to boot. It would also have the benefit of harking back to the current Elizabethan era, which might be no bad thing in fifty years time. It strikes me as a tad too ‘status quo’ though. Margaret was chosen for the current Queen’s late sister, but I think we can safely rule that out, as Scotland had a Margaret in the form of the Maid of Norway, and we would therefore be forcing a Margaret II upon the English when they had hitherto had no Margaret I (the convention being that the higher royal numeral wins out). Anne was mentioned by one newscaster this morning, but I think that equally unlikely, both because it would place us in the unenviable position of having two ‘Princess Anne’s at the same time (the current Princess Royal being the other), and because the previous Queen Anne has little to recommend her as a positive role model. She was, as much as anything, a caretaker monarch, neither completely Stuart nor completely Hanoverian, not to mention the fact that she bore no heirs of her own – hardly, therefore, an auspicious name with which to burden the newborn hope of a nation. No, with a nod to the outside chance that her parents might break with all manner of tradition and name her Katherine after her mother (thus giving us out own Katherine the Great in due course, and perhaps no bad thing), my money is firmly on Victoria if the Duchess has a girl. That name carries with it both a sense of romance, and a sense of stability, and would appeal to both modernist and traditionalist alike.
A boy presents us with an entirely different set of problems. We have more names to choose from, but fewer that appeal. Let us see what we can glean from resent precedent.
First up, we have the most popular monarchical names – Edward and Henry. Edward carries with it the same complications noted for Anne, given that there is already a Prince Edward in the form of the Earl of Wessex. It is also a name with historical baggage, in that it reminds one of Edward VIII and the abdication, hardly the House of Windsor’s finest hour. And, as a third black mark against it, it would mean that the child would reign as Edward IX. Now I don’t want to be accused of underestimating the educational achievements of the general public at large, but it’s hard enough in this day and age to explain the first seven or eight roman numerals to people, without trying to explain that nine is written as ten-minus-one. For that reason alone, I think Edward is likely to be a non-starter. And while the royal couple might chose to name their firstborn after his paternal uncle, I think Henry IX is equally likely to be off-putting to the focus groups (not to mention running the risk of confusing folk, since theJacobites had their own Henry IX in the form of the Cardinal King, younger brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie).
George might seem at first glance to be a safer bet, but there are also issues to be overcome there. George I and George II, founder and heir respectively to the Hanoverian claim, spoke barely any English, while George III was as mad as a March hare. George IV is mostly remembered for his excesses while Prince Regent. George V was something of a starched shirt, and the last of the old-school monarchs who prided themselves in remaining distant from their subjects, while George VI, though much loved, had never been born to rule, and died at a remarkably young age, mostly as the result of the stress he endured though first the abdication crisis and then the Second World War. And perhaps most important when considering George as an option, there are strong indications that Charles, unwilling to risk the ire of the Jacobites by reigning under his own name as Charles III, intends to reign instead as George VII when his time comes. As much as I respect the current Prince of Wales, I expect his reign to be neither a long, nor a particularly bright one. He looks more likely to be another caretaker monarch, as the people await the advent of William. George VIII would therefore be a tie to an unfortunate recent past best forgotten.
No, if we are looking at a male heir, I think we need look a little further afield for a suitable name. Not too far afield, however. There have been a number of royal Richards in recent years – Richard of Gloucester comes immediately to mind, though Edward of Wessex also boasts Richard among his Christian names. Richard of York, and Richard Plantagenet both trip off the tongue easily enough after that. It is a name that harks back the glories of the Lionheart, and for all that its second and third bearers did not exactly distinguish themselves on the pages of history, the time seems ripe to recognise it as a worthy contender. It is a name worthy of the ushering in or a new era, yet one with sufficient tradition behind it that it would not upset the royal apple cart – just the sort of balance between modernity and tradition which might appeal to William and Kate.
So there you have my own predictions, for what they are worth – Richard for a boy, Victoria for a girl. Richard IV, or Victoria II, in due course. Now, off down to the TAB with the lot of you, and put a fiver on each. And, in six months time, when you are greeted with the news of the royal birth, remember that you read it here first, on menzieshouse.com.au, website extraordinaire, sans royal appointment.
Craig Buchanan is an occasional contributor to MH, and studied at the University of St Andrews alongside Prince William and Kate Middleton, though he recollects seeing the former only occasionally, and the latter not at all.