23 Jul 2013

Names, Surnames and the Royal Baby

With the royal baby boy being born yesterday, the world is curious what his name will be. This made us think about names. Everyone has got one since it serves the useful purpose of identification. But does everyone have a surname? What is the Queen’s family name? And what are the most popular baby names in various countries?

The use of family names is common in most cultures around the world, but the practice is not universal. In Indonesia and the south of India it is very common to only have one name and surnames were only introduced in Turkey after World War I.

In most Slavic countries, and in Greek, people have different family names according to their genders, e.g. in Poland a male person might have the surname Kozlowski, whilst the female version is Kozlowska.

Family names come first in East Asian countries, such as China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, but also in Iceland, Hungary, Romania and some parts of Africa, because surnames are considered to be more important than the given first name in certain cultures.

Monarchs and other royalty, for instance Napoleon, have availed themselves traditionally of the privilege of using a mononym, i.e. one name. Sometimes this mononym is modified by an ordinal or descriptor, for example Queen Elizabeth II.

Members of the Royal Family can be known both by their surname and the name of the royal house, which are not  necessarily the same. Before 1917, members of the British Royal Family only had the name of the house to which they belonged. Queen Victoria’s eldest son Edward VII belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (the family name of his father Prince Albert). Coburg and Gotha are two cities in Germany and Saxe is an older word for the area of Saxony in Germany.

But after the First World War broke out in 1914, there was a great anti-German sentiment and in 1917, King George V renounced all the German titles belonging to him and his family and adopted the name of his castle, Windsor.

Queen Elizabeth II does not normally use the surname Windsor, only on rare occasions, for instance when serving with the ATS during World War II.

Most popular baby names (collected from official statistics offices of each country in 2010):

Country Boys Girls
Argentina Juan Maria
Australia Joshua Emily
Austria Lukas Sarah
Belgium Noah Emma
Denmark Magnus Mathilde
Canada Ethan Emma
Chile Benjamin Constanza
Czech R. Jan Tereza
Finland Veeti Emma
France Enzo Emma
Germany Alexander Marie
Iceland Sigurður Anna
Japan Shun Misaki
New Zealand Joshua Emma
Philippines Michael Maricel
Poland Jan Anna
Portugal João Maria
Spain Alejandro Lucía
Sweden Lucas Emma
Switzerland Luca Lea
UK Jack Emily
USA Jacob Emily


What do you think will be royal baby will be called? Please let us know by commenting below.


Sign up to our newsletter

Get our blog articles straight to your inbox.