There are few circumstances in which one may pick their name, ascending the throne is one such. Upon becoming Sovereign, the new King or Queen may choose to use a new name to reign in. This is known as a regnal name.
Regnal names are also followed by a regnal number, expressed with a Roman numeral, in order to make each name unique to such Monarch. While Queen Elizabeth II has always been known by this name, Queen Elizabeth I was simply known as Elizabeth of England during her time. With Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne in 1952, historical references were changed to included ‘I’.
Most monarchs of the United Kingdom use their first baptismal name as their regnal name, yet in three circumstances this has not been the case. Alexandrina Victoria was the name Queen Victoria was christened with, when she became Queen she chose to reign under Victoria.
Not wishing to diminish the name of his father Albert, Prince Albert Edward of Wales took the regnal name King Edward VII when he became King in 1901. He claimed the name to be an honoured name, the same of six of his predecessors. This went against the wishes of his mother, Queen Victoria, she wanted him to reign as King Albert.
When King Edward abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson in 1936, Prince Albert, Duke of York ascended the throne. He chose to reign as King George VI, his full name was Albert Frederick Arthur George.
His daughter Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was the next monarch, however when she asked what name she would like, she replied:
“My own of course — what else?”
And so Queen Elizabeth II became our current monarch.
In the future, as Prince Charles takes his spot as head of the Monarchy, he too will have a choice. There is speculation that he will opt for another name, as the history of “Charles” has not been great. There is the memory of King Charles II who was a known womaniser and the “young pretender” Charles Edward Stuart who claimed the title of “Charles III” (the title Prince Charles would take). As Charles Philip Arthur George, he may choose to be ‘King George’, ‘King Arthur’ or ‘King Philip’ instead.
If they gave me a say in the matter, I like the sounds of ‘King George VII’. How sweet would King ‘Grandpa’ George and little Prince George be together!