Well, we weren’t expecting that. After much speculation and endless guessing, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went and surprised everyone by picking the name Louis for their third child. The little prince’s first name has been pretty well used amongst the House of Windsor – as a middle name. But as a first name, it’s rather unusual. Here’s a look at little Louis’ namesakes.
The Beloved Great Uncle
Until now, the name Louis is perhaps most associated in royal terms with the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Uncle to the Duke of Edinburgh and great uncle to the Prince of Wales, he was an inspiration to both men and a mentor to Charles. He was killed in an IRA bomb attack off the coast of County Sligo in August 1979 and his death left the Royal Family devastated.
He had been born Prince Louis of Battenberg on June 25th 1900 at Frogmore House, Windsor. His father was Prince Louis of Battenberg and his mother was Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, daughter of Princess Alice and Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. This Prince Louis lost his royal title in 1917, becoming Lord Louis Mountbatten. He had a distinguished military career and served as the last Viceroy of India. In 1947, he was made Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
His influence on the Royal Family can be seen in the use of his name for several royal princes. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh named their youngest son Edward Antony Richard Louis as a nod to Philip’s beloved uncle. Prince Charles made sure to give the name to his first son, born three years after Earl Mountbatten’s death. The Duke of Cambridge’s full name is William Arthur Philip Louis. And William and Kate have used the name once already – their first son is Prince George Alexander Louis.
Louis or Ludwig?
However, in other forms, the name is found in the royal family tree a little earlier on. Louis is the French version of a name found in English as Lewis and in German as Ludwig and it’s in that latter version that we first find it among the kings of Great Britain.
The House of Hanover, invited to rule when Queen Anne died without an heir in 1714, was rather fond of the name Ludwig. The man who became King George I of Great Britain (ruled 1714 – 1727) was christened Georg Ludwig. His own son, the future George II (ruled 1727 – 1760), gave the name to his first born child who was Frederick Lewis or Louis or Ludwig, depending on which source you happen to be reading at the time. And plenty of Hanoverians used the female version for daughters with both Louise and Louisa cropping up in royal baby names throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
The French Connection
All those different versions of the name have one meaning – renowned warrior. So it’s perhaps not surprising that Louis and Ludwig were popular picks among the medieval kings and nobles who ruled society across Europe.
It ultimately ended up most associated with the royal houses of France. Back in the 9th century, Louis, King of the Franks put his royal stamp on the name and began a tradition that would see eighteen French monarchs called Louis.
Given that England and France spent a large chunk of the Middle Ages at war, it’s perhaps not surprising that the name was never adopted into royal lines here. In 1216, the then dauphin of France declared himself Louis I of England as the reign of King John descended into chaos. However, after John’s death and some serious negotiations, he rescinded his claim and went on to become King Louis VIII of France in 1223.
A new royal Louis
Now the name gets another new, royal chapter. Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge, born on April 23rd 2018 and fifth in line to the throne, brings the name the closest it’s been to the crown since that 13th century show of strength. Little Louis probably won’t ever be king but his unusual first name has plenty of regal credentials as well as being a sweet tribute to a relation he never met but who had so much influence on the family he now belongs to.
Photo credit: Kensington Royal Twitter