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How do Royal Family pick baby names? Kate admits she felt 'pressure' naming her children

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 02: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Louis of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge watch a flypast from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour on June 2, 2022 in London, England. Trooping The Colour, also known as The Queen's Birthday Parade, is a military ceremony performed by regiments of the British Army that has taken place since the mid-17th century. It marks the official birthday of the British Sovereign. This year, from June 2 to June 5, 2022, there is the added celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne on 6 February 1952. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
The Princess of Wales with her three children watching the flypast from the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping of the Colour in the Queen's Platinum Jubilee year. (Getty Images) (Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty Images)

In the Royal Family, names are a big deal. Rich with history and steeped in tradition – particularly for those higher up the line of succession – so it's no surprise that Kate has felt the pressure when it came to thinking of baby names.

During an engagement on Wednesday to the Royal Surrey County Hospital — one of her first as Princess of Wales — Kate opened up about the difficulties she faced choosing names for her three children.

Amy Stubbs, the deputy director of midwifery, said that Kate confided in her that picking their names "felt like quite a big pressure" because "the world was waiting for them to name their children".

Ultimately, the Prince and Princess of Wales decided to give their children their "favourite names", she explained.

Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales, wearing a face mask to help mitigate the possible spread of Covid-19, speaks to mew mother Sylvia Novak (unseen), whilst holding Sylvia's new-born daughter Bianca, during a visit to the Royal Surrey County Hospital's maternity unit in Guildford, south west of London on October 5, 2022. (Photo by Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALASTAIR GRANT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Kate holds newborn baby Bianca while chatting with Bianca's mother Sylvia who is a patient in the maternity unit, Guildford, 2022. (Getty Images) (ALASTAIR GRANT via Getty Images)

In recent years, some members of the Royal Family have broken away from tradition and chosen more unusual names for their children.

Princess Eugenie opted for August, which on the surface seems like a quirky choice. However, it was in fact a nod Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert. August is a modern take on his middle name Augustus.

GUILDFORD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Catherine, Princess of Wales visits the Royal Surrey County Hospital's Maternity Unit at Royal Surrey County Hospital on October 05, 2022 in Guildford, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Kate holds a posy outside the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford. (Getty Images) (Chris Jackson via Getty Images)

Peter Phillips and his sister Zara also went their own way, with Phillips and wife Autumn choosing Savannah and Isla for their two girls and Zara and husband Mike opting for Mia, Lena and Lucas

Part of this has to do with the fact that they aren't working royals and it's very unlikely that their children will play a major role in monarchy duties in the future.

For William and Kate, as heirs to the throne, it was expected for them to stick with tradition more closely.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 22: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge depart The Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on July 22, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Niki Nikolova/FilmMagic)
William and Kate leave the Lindo Wing after the birth of Prince George in 2013. (Getty Images) (Niki Nikolova via Getty Images)

Do baby names need the monarch's approval?

The Royal Family don't exactly have to get permission to give their children a particular name, but it is said that they are strongly inclined to listen to the opinion of the monarch.

Given how much the family respected the late Queen Elizabeth II, if she really hadn't been keen on a name, they may well have gone another way.

Prince Harry and Meghan decided to call their daughter Lilibet, which was the Queen's family nickname as a child.

When reports claimed that they hadn't consulted the Queen about this choice, their spokesperson quickly corrected this, saying: "The duke spoke with his family in advance of the announcement — in fact his grandmother was the first family member he called.

"During that conversation, he shared their hope of naming their daughter Lilibet in her honour. Had she not been supportive, they would not have used that name."

Since Queen Elizabeth died, there haven't been any new arrivals in the House of Windsor, but according to Hello! Charles has already played an important role in naming royal babies.

Princess Elizabeth sitting in the horse drawn carriage with her grandparents King George V and Queen Mary on the way back to Balmoral after attending church at nearby Crathie. 5th September 1932. 00124625 (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Elizabeth, known as Lilibet in the family, as a young child with her grandparents King George V and Queen Mary, Balmoral in 1932. (Getty Images) (Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 05: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Savannah Phillips (2nd row), Prince George of Cambridge and Lena Tindall (2nd row) attend the Platinum Pageant on The Mall on June 5, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Four of the late Queen's great-grandchildren, George, Charlotte, Savannah and Lena, chat away during the celebrations for her Platinum Jubilee. (Getty Images) (Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty Images)

When his sister Anne gave birth to her daughter Zara in 1981, it was Charles who suggested her name. Reportedly, this was due to the nature of her birth, which was "rather sudden".

The Greek meaning of Zara is "bright as the dawn" which leads some people to believe Zara's name was also a nod to Prince Philip's heritage.

With such a successful choice behind him, the rest of the family may well be keen to get the new King's opinion on any potential name choices.

The Prince of Wales (2nd right) his sons Prince William (2nd left) and Prince Harry, with Zara Phillips, the daughter of the Princess Royal, as they face the media - including the French paparazzi, during their private Alpine holiday in Klosters.   (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Charles on a skiing holiday in Klosters with his two sons William and Harry and niece Zara Phillips in 1998. (Getty Images) (John Stillwell - PA Images via Getty Images)

Why do the Royal Family often use so many middle names?

Regularly, members of the Royal Family have multiple middle names, which often are family names honouring a relative.

Kate and William chose the middle names Alexander Louis for their eldest son Prince George. These are said to be in honour of both the late Queen and Lord Mountbatten.

William also has Louis as one of his middle names. George is itself, of course, a name rich with royal history: there have been six King Georges, the last being the late Queen's father.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 08: Prince Louis, Prince George, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte  and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge appear on the balcony during Trooping The Colour, the Queen's annual birthday parade, on June 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
William, Kate and their three children: George, Charlotte and Louis on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour in 2019. (Getty Images) (Samir Hussein via Getty Images)

Even those royals who have chosen less traditional first names, have often opted to pay tribute to their family members using the middle names.

Eugenie for instance chose the middle names Philip — in honour of her grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh — and Hawke as a nod to her an ancestor of her husbands.

Lena Tindall's middle name is Elizabeth — given how close Zara was with her grandmother, it's no surprise she chose this traditional royal name.

Overall, three of the late Queen's grandchildren were given her name as a middle name, and five of her great-grandchildren. Both William and Harry have used Diana as a tribute to their late mother as their daughters' middle names.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 23: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Princess Charlotte of Cambridge arrives with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital to visit her newborn baby brother on April 23, 2018 in London, England. The Duchess of Cambridge delivered a boy at 11:01 am, weighing 8lbs 7oz, who will be fifth in line to the throne. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana going inside the Lindo Wing to meet her newborn baby brother Louis, in 2018. (Getty Images) (Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty Images)

Regnant names

For those who will one day take the throne, multiple middle names have another function, which may have added to the pressure for Kate and William when making their decisions.

The monarch can choose any of their names — first or one of the middle names — as their regnant name. This is the name they will officially use as king or queen.

Both Charles and Queen Elizabeth opted to use their first names, but the Queen's father decided not to use his. Albert — or Bertie as he was nicknamed — was known as King George VI once he ascended to the throne.