There has been much excitement on both sides of the pond about the arrival of the new royal baby on May 6th. The proud parents, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle), celebrated their first wedding anniversary just a couple of weeks after the birth. They did say that they wanted to have a family quickly, and as the Duchess will be 38 this August, they were probably wise to get started.
The reaction to the baby’s name, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, has been very mixed. This is what the British call ‘The Marmite effect’ – people either love it or hate it. Marmite is an edible spread made fromyeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing. I think it is disgusting and would rather eat dry bread, but my roommate at university and best friend loves it. Love it or hate it is the British reaction to Archie Harrison’s name.
Anyway, back to the new baby. Mountbatten-Windsor is the closest the royals get to a last name (or as the British always call it, a “surname”). Up until 1917, British royals didn’t really have last names, butour current Queen Elizabeth’s great-grandfather, George V, decided to start using “Windsor” as his dynasty’s name. He chose it because it sounded British, and England was at war with Germany at that time. The royal family had German relatives, and wanted to minimize the connection.
Then, in1960, Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh, decided to distinguish themselves from past royals and use a double-barreled last name, Mountbatten-Windsor. The name of Mountbatten honors Prince Phillip’s family, who are Greek.
So, what about the choice of Archie Harrison as the baby’s name? Personally, I think it is cute (although my granddaughters’ little dog is called Archie which is a bit unfortunate!) and another example of this royal couple trying very hard to be different. Prince Harry certainly broke with tradition when he chose the American actress, Meghan Markle as his bride. I am also impressed with Queen Elizabeth who, at 93 years of age, has appeared nothing less than delighted as the British royal family celebrated the joining of cultures, racial heritages and countries both at last year’s wedding and at this year’s birth. However, the chances of Meghan becoming Queen are pretty remote as Prince Harry is sixth in line to the throne after his father, brother and the three children born to William and Kate. Archie Harrison is therefore seventh in line to the throne.
The name Archie is certainly not a traditional choice for Harry and Meghan as it’s not the name of a past British monarch or even a past member of the British royal family. Archie is the shortened version of Archibald, a traditionally Scottish name which is said to mean ‘true, bold and brave’. Unlike many senior royals, Archie only has one middle name – Harrison – which some say is of Aboriginal origin and, in a fitting tribute to the baby’s father, means ‘son of Henry’ or ‘son of Harry’.
Many in Britain had expected a more traditional royal name such as James, Arthur or Edward, but as usual Harry and Meghan are not revealing many details. Some Brits think this is all a bit dramatic of Meghan, and reminds everyone that she was an actress. It is true that Princess Kate is a “much better sport” (British for “easier going”) than Meghan about sharing information about her family and appearing for photo opportunities. For example, it was a big secret where baby Archie was born although we have just found outthat it was at the Portland Hospital in London, and not the homebirth that the royal couple were rumored to have wanted. Of course, this was different to the London hospital where William and Kate had their children, St Mary’s in Paddington. This desire for a bit of privacy is understandable, since the couple clearly want to live, at least a little, outside the goldfish bowl of royal life with constant photographers and reporters looking on their every move.
I will leave you this week with a quote from Eda J. Le Shan, an American writer, television host, counsellor, educator, and playwright. “A new baby is the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities”. And so it is with this new royal baby.
God bless America, and the British Royal family as well!
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