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Royal Baby Name Focus: Frederick

We’ve just weeks, possibly days, to go until Royal Baby Cambridge Number Three makes their debut. The hospital is ready, the overnight bag is no doubt by the door at Kensington Palace and as if we needed another indication that the new fifth in line to the throne is about to arrive, the bookies have their favourites for baby names. The top pick with them should the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcome a second son is Frederick so as the royal baby wait continues, here’s a look at the British royal links of this bookies’ favourite.

The Nearly Kings

We’ve had several heirs to the throne called Frederick but none of them has made it to the top job.

Frederick, Prince of Wales, heir to George II

Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales (1707 – 1751) became heir to the throne on the accession of his father, George II, in 1727. The two men, by then, pretty much hated the sight of each other and things only got worse throughout George’s reign. Frederick died, unexpectedly, at the age of 44 and his son would go on to reign as George III.

Frederick Augustus, Duke of York (1763 – 1827) was George III’s second son and spent much of his adult life in the army. As well as being the ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ of nursery rhyme fame, he was also heir to the throne during the reign of his older brother, George IV, but died three years before him and never became king himself.

Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594 – 1612) was the popular and ultimately tragic eldest son of King James VI of Scotland and I of England. He was heir to the Scottish throne from birth and became first in line to the English crown when his father succeeded Elizabeth I in 1603. Henry Frederick’s death, at the age of just 18, led to widespread mourning.

The secret of kings

Frederick has, however, been the middle name of several monarchs, hiding away among more well known regnal and first names.

George III (r. 1760 – 1820) was christened George William Frederick. George had a long and varied reign and spent the last ten years of his life being treated for serious health problems which at the time were described as his ”madness”.

George V (r. 1910 – 1936) boasted the full name George Frederick Albert Ernest. The second son of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, he was a modernising monarch and a big influence on his beloved granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

King George VI had Frederick as a middle name

George VI (r. 1936 – 1952) was named Albert Frederick Arthur George by his parents, King George V and Queen Mary. His family called him Bertie, the Queen called him Dad and the world called him HM when he reluctantly took the throne on the Abdication of his brother, Edward VIII.


The Cambridge Connection

As if all those royal mentions weren’t enough, the name Frederick has been particularly popular with royal Cambridge families in the past.

Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge

Adolphus Frederick (1774 – 1850) was the tenth child of King George III and Queen Charlotte and was made Duke of Cambridge in 1801. He had a long military career and, in 1819,  he married Augusta of Hesse-Kassel whose dad was also called Frederick. So it’s probably not a surprise their own children were so keen on the name.

Their son, George, Duke of Cambridge (1819 – 1904), started off in life as George William Frederick Charles. His marriage to an actress called Sarah Fairbrother far from amused his cousin, Queen Victoria, but the couple had a large family including a son called Adolphus Augustus Frederick. 

His sister, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, wasn’t shy when it came to dishing out the name Frederick either. Her two youngest sons, Prince Francis and Prince Alexander of Teck, both had it as a middle name.

But neither of them could hold a candle to Princess Augusta of Cambridge, the elder daughter of Adolphus and Augusta, who loved the name so much she called her two sons Frederick and Adolphus Frederick. But then she’d married a Fred – Frederick William of Mecklenberg-Strelitz.

Thoroughly Modern Freds

Lord Frederick Windsor (b. 1979) is, at the moment, perhaps the best known British royal with the name. The only son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, he was christened Frederick Michael George David Louis and is currently 46th in line to the throne.

It was also a middle name of the Queen’s uncle, the Duke of Gloucester (1900 – 1974), who was called Henry William Frederick Albert, and of his eldest son, Prince William Henry Andrew Frederick of Gloucester (1941 – 1972).

The chances of a new royal Fred?

The bookies have been keen on this name for a new royal baby boy since William and Kate announced they were expecting back in September. In fact, several spellings of the name (including the more unusual Fredrick) are attracting punters as are the shortened versions Fred and Freddie. 

That last version is where the name gets its popularity right now. Freddie was the 17th most used name in England and Wales for boys in 2017 according to the Office for National Statistics. Frederick came in at number 76. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose names popular with other mums and dads for their first two children so Freddie being a favourite right now could well push it up their must have list should they welcome a son.

We’ll know soon enough whether Frederick is about to get another new royal chapter in its history.

Photo credits: Kensington Palace Twitter; Frederick, Prince of Wales by Jacopo Amigoni, Public Domain, Wiki Commons; George VI by Bertram Park, Public Domain, Wiki Commons; Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge, Public Domain, Wiki Commons

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.