On trend, Arthur is suddenly the front runner again for a baby prince as the final countdown to the arrival of the third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge gets well and truly under way. In the past few days this ancient name has streaked ahead with the bookies and is now a firm favourite. But while it might conjure up ideas of knights and kings, the name hasn’t got quite as many royal claims to fame as you might think.
To be fair, it’s been a popular enough name with the House of Windsor so gets regal brownie points there. It’s one of the four names given to soon to be third time dad, Prince William (William Arthur Philip Louis) and it’s also a middle name of the Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George).
It was borne, too, by the Queen’s beloved father, King George VI, who was christened Albert Frederick Arthur George. And it’s the first name of one of his great grandsons. Lady Sarah Chatto called her second child, born in July 1999, Arthur.
The name Arthur had a bit of a royal following in the Victorian age when it was sprinkled through the family tree with regularity. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert chose it for their third son who was christened Arthur William Patrick Albert. He was born on 1 May 1850, the 81st birthday of the Duke of Wellington, and was named Arthur in his honour (the Iron Duke was also one of the baby prince’s godfathers). It was the start of a mini run of form for the name.
Prince Arthur, who became Duke of Connaught in 1874, married Louise of Prussia and they called their only son Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert (born 1883). Prince Arthur of Connaught called his only son Alistair Arthur (born 1914) while his two sisters also used the name in their own families. Princess Margaret of Connaught, who married Prince Gustav Adolf of Sweden in 1905, called her youngest son Carl Johan Arthur (born 1916) while the always fabulous Patricia of Connaught gave the name to her own boy who was christened Alexander Arthur Alfonso David Maule soon after his birth in 1919.
We’re not done with the Victorian Arthurs yet. Victoria and Albert’s youngest child, Beatrice, would nestle it among the names given to her second son who was called Leopold Arthur Louis (born 1889).
But say Arthur and, let’s admit it, we all get slightly legendary and start thinking of that famous King of Britain who may or may not have existed. That, until Queen Victoria started honouring war heroes, was the main reason this name occasionally found favour with royal dynasties.
Back at the end of the 15th century, when Henry VII was setting about proving he should be king after the Battle of Bosworth, he wanted to show that his family, the Tudors, were linked to the kings of Britain and so named his first child, born in 1486, Arthur. It didn’t matter that, even then, people weren’t certain that King Arthur had ever existed, Henry wasn’t going to let a thing like reality get in the way of a royal genealogy that would shore up his (rather shaky) claim to the Crown. Arthur, Prince of Wales died, aged just fifteen, in 1502.
Arthur was also the name of another youngster who was, briefly, in line to rule England. Arthur of Brittany was a grandson of Henry II. Arthur’s father, Geoffrey, died before he was born so this little royal was instantly number two in line to the throne behind his uncle, who would go on to be Richard I. On Richard’s death, in 1199, another uncle, King John, grabbed the throne and Arthur disappeared in 1203 with plenty of stories claiming that he had been murdered.
The chances of a new Prince Arthur
Despite its sometimes tragic royal history, Arthur is now streaking ahead as the punters’ pick for baby Cambridge three if it’s a boy. William and Kate have chosen names popular with other mums and dads for their first two children and Arthur fits that bill – it was at number 30 in the 2016 top 100 names for boys according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. It would also provide a name link for a new baby prince with both his father and grandfather. And Charles’ first two grandchildren have nods to him in their names so this would follow that pattern, too.
We’ll find out very soon if the bookies are right should the Cambridges welcome a new prince or whether other favourites like Frederick end up as William and Kate’s pick. And you can get all the latest details on the royal baby right here on Royal Central.