Royal baby name: The history behind George Alexander Louis

Posted at 2:04 PM, Jul 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-24 16:04:02-04

By Monica Sarkar

for CNN

(CNN) — The world finally knows how to address the latest addition to the British royal family: HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

The baby boy is third in line to the throne, after grandfather Prince Charles and father Prince William. When he becomes king he will be known was George VII: here’s some of the history behind those three names…


“George” — the frontrunner before the announcement, according to many UK bookmakers — was the name of Queen Elizabeth’s father, George VI, who reigned from 1936 until his death in 1952. He assumed the throne on the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII: his life was depicted in the Oscar-winning movie “The King’s Speech.”

George I, born in Germany, became king in 1714. He was followed by a line of kings by the same name, including George III, who was known for his bouts of insanity.

The name is also a patriotic choice for many in the UK: Saint George, patron saint of England, is known for his legendary defeat of a dragon in the 3rd century. His feast day is celebrated on April 23, (the date also associated with the birth of William Shakespeare, England’s most revered writer).

Despite its royal connections George has humble origins, derived as it is from the Greek name “georgios” meaning “earth worker” or “farmer.”

Other historical Georges: Composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), the first president of the United States, George Washington (1732-1799), and the Pacific explorer George Vancouver (1757-1798). Authors Mary Anne Evans and Eric Arthur Blair also chose George as their pen names — George Eliot (1819-1880) and George Orwell (1903-1950) respectively.


This gallant title means “defender of men,” from the Latin form of the Greek name “Alexandros.” Alexander III of Macedon (356-323 BC), better known as Alexander the Great, courageously ruled and conquered many parts of the world before his untimely death at the age of 32.

The name “Alexander” is currently a feature of the Dutch royal family: Willem-Alexander ascended to the throne following the abdication of his mother Queen Beatrice earlier this year.

Other historical Alexanders: English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), American statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Scottish-Canadian explorer Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) and Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-born inventor of the telephone.


The name “Louis” originates from the English and French interpretations of the German name Ludwig, which can be interpreted as “renowned warrior.”

Louis was the first name of Lord Mountbatten, uncle of George’s great-grandfather Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and mentor to Prince Charles. He was murdered by the IRA while holidaying in Ireland in 1979.

No British monarch has yet to take this name — but it is very popular across the English Channel in France, where 18 kings have taken the name from 814 onwards. Louis XIV — or the Sun King — reigned from 1643 till 1715 and was hailed by many as the greatest monarch of his age due to the growth in French power and the opulence of his court, which included the Palace of Versailles.

Louis XVI was the king of France from 1774 until 1792 when he was found guilty of treason following the revolution and executed in 1793.

Other historical Louis: French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), Métis leader Louis Riel (1844-1885), who led a rebellion against Canada, and Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), who wrote “Treasure Island” and “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.”

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