Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to find a royal who isn’t called Albert or Victoria. OK, slightly OTT, but the fact is that two of the hot favourite names for Royal Baby Cambridge number three are as close as you can get to ubiquitous in royal circles. Ever since the time of the second longest reigning monarch in British history and her beloved consort, their names have done the royal rounds with persistent regularity. And if the bookies are to be believed, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have Albert and Victoria firmly in their sights for their latest addition, due any day now.
The History Bit
Let’s start at the very beginning….until the early 19th century, these were most definitely not British royal names. In fact, they weren’t well used names in Britain at all. Albert was the better known of the two but neither was exactly a chart topper.
Victoria came to prominence in 1818 when Edward, Duke of Kent married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. His bride had actually been christened Marie Luise Victoria but was known by the last of those names. When their only child was born, in 1819, she was christened Alexandrina Victoria. This young royal, who swiftly moved up the line of succession, became a popular figure and the name, once barely known, was suddenly becoming very familiar.
The Age of Victoria and Albert
On her accession, in 1837, Victoria chose to reign using the second of her names and her marriage, in 1840, put the name Albert on everyone’s lips as well. The couple then set about calling just about all their children after themselves in one way or another, helping both names gain momentum.
They had four sons Albert Edward (born 1841), Alfred Ernest Albert (born 1844), Arthur William Patrick Albert (born 1850) and Leopold George Duncan Albert (born 1853). Of their five daughters, three were given their mother’s name – Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa (born 1840), Helena Augusta Victoria (born 1846) and Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (born 1857). Their fourth daughter, Louise Caroline Alberta, was called after papa and only Alice Maud Mary (born 1843) didn’t share either of her parents’ names.
But it was the arrival of grandchildren that really put these royal names on the map. Eight of their nine offspring had children of their own and all of them used Victoria and Albert somewhere in the long list of names given to their own little princes and princesses while one baby girl got the added bonus of an Alberta thrown in for good measure. What’s more, seven of those eight gave a daughter Victoria as a first name while three of them put Albert in pole position for a son.
All in all, twelve of the couple’s twenty grandsons had Albert somewhere in their names while seventeen of their twenty-two granddaughters bore the name Victoria. The names were well used, too, among their 87 great grandchildren. And as we all know how much Queen Victoria liked to matchmake, her descendants married into royalty across Europe and suddenly the two names were cropping up on regal family trees just about everywhere.
The House of Windsor
Victoria and Albert have never really lost royal currency since then even though they are generally tucked away in the list of middle names recited at the font and then memorized by people who like to win pub quizzes. Queen Mary was actually baptized Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes (and if you can remember all of those you deserve top prize in any competition). Her only daughter was Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary (always known by the last of her names) while she and King George V used Albert for three of their five sons.
Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David (born 1894) ruled briefly as King Edward VIII while his younger brother, Albert Frederick Arthur George (born 1895) succeeded him as King George VI. George and Mary’s third son was christened Henry William Frederick Albert on his birth in 1900. However, George and Mary’s children weren’t so keen on the old names with none of their grandchildren receiving Albert or Victoria at the baptismal font.
But old favourites refuse to fade and both names have found a home again in the royal family tree. Albert has been more prominent as it was the name by which George VI was always known to his family. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh named their second son Andrew Albert Christian Edward (born 1960) and Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones called their only boy David Albert Charles (born 1961).
The Queen can find a Victoria and Albert among her own grandchildren, too. Charles and Diana christened their younger prince Henry Charles Albert David in 1984 while Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York’s second daughter is Eugenie Victoria Helena (born 1990). Which means you’re going to hear both at some point in 2018 as there’s nothing like a royal wedding to get all the names out of the attic for a dusting down.
But will we be hearing either in the announcement of baby Cambridge’s name? The bookies have put Albert among the most likely picks from the moment that Kate’s third pregnancy was announced while Victoria has been a favourite for a new princess from the get go, too.
The Cambridges have also chosen names popular with other mums and dads for their first two children and both names are on the up in the UK. Albert has enjoyed a real spike in popularity in recent years and, in figures released by the Office for National Statistics for 2016, it was the 66th most used name for boys with its diminutive, Albie, coming in at number 88. Victoria was the 91st most popular name for girls in the same year.
Time will tell but if a new Cambridge baby does receive either name at the font then they will be joining a very long list of royals who have taken one of two names that came from nowhere to dominate regal family trees for centuries.