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A King by Any Other Name

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Rowan
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A King by Any Other Name

Post by Rowan » Tue January 24th, 2012, 3:10 pm

As I mentioned on another thread, I have the latest issue of BBC History magazine and King George VI is the cover story for this month. After reading the article I remembered learning from The King's Speech that George wasn't his first name (although it was in the list lol).

I was wondering when it became some sort of trend to change a monarch's name to conform to some ideal.

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Post by annis » Tue January 24th, 2012, 5:31 pm

There's a long tradition of rulers (and not just British ones) taking a new name upon being crowned- this is known as a regnal name. I guess it's a sign that an heir has made the transition to a new state after being crowned - rather as a nun takes a new name when taking her final vows. It's sometimes also used to maintain a sense of continuity, which may have been seen as important in the case of George VI after his brother threw a spanner in the works by abdicating and making the monarchy look a bit shaky. It's not obligatory- for example the current queen chose to keep her own name, Elizabeth, upon her coronation.

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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Tue January 24th, 2012, 5:39 pm

Thank you annis. :)

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Post by annis » Tue January 24th, 2012, 6:24 pm

It occurs to me that using the new king's personal name, Albert, might have also been seen as an unfortunate reminder of the Royal Family's German connections, which they tried to play down. During the First World War anything with a German name or association became very unpopular in Britain. When WWI broke out the British royals even changed the family name from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the present one, the House of Windsor.

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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Tue January 24th, 2012, 6:28 pm

This is what the Wikipedia article states the reasons for at least two of the name changes:
When Victoria's son, Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, became king in 1901, he took the regnal name Edward VII, in defiance of the wish of his late mother that her descendants would rule as double-barreled Albert-[Name]s indefinitely. The new king declared that he chose the name Edward alone as an honoured name borne by six of his predecessors, and that he did not wish to diminish the status of his father, with whom alone among royalty the name Albert should be associated.

In 1936, after the abdication crisis, Prince Albert, Duke of York, assumed the throne as King George VI in order to continue Edward VII's tradition of not using the title King Albert.

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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Tue January 24th, 2012, 8:57 pm

The whole Wikipedia article on regnal names, not just in the UK, is very interesting. and it's a fascinating topic generally.

For a moment, I thought Edward VIII fit into this theme and wondered why he wasn't mentioned in that article given that he was called David before he became king. But it turns out that the first of his many given names was in fact Edward, though he was always known by his last one, David.

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Post by annis » Wed January 25th, 2012, 2:16 am

That's interesting about the Albert thing, Rowan. Given the bad blood between Edward VII and Queen Victoria, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if his decision to not to use the name Albert was made to assert himself and posthumously spite his mother!

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Post by Susan » Wed January 25th, 2012, 2:49 am

[quote=""annis""]There's a long tradition of rulers (and not just British ones) taking a new name upon being crowned- this is known as a regnal name.[/quote]

Very few British monarchs took a name other than their first name upon acceding to the throne. The ones that did so, have already been mentioned, and there is one addition. All previous British monarchs used their first names as their regnal names. Prior to the children of George III, very few British royal children were christened with more than one name.

Queen Victoria: christened Alexandrina Victoria after one of her godparents, Tsar Alexander I of Russia, and Victoria after her mother. She was known as "Drina" as a child, but that eventually changed to Victoria.

Edward VII: christened Albert Edward after his father and maternal grandfather, called Bertie by his family, and as someone said he probably did use Edward as his regnal name to spite his mother.

Edward VIII: christened Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, Edward for his grandfather King Edward VII, Albert for his great grandfather Prince Albert, Christian for his great grandfather King Christian IX of Denmark, George after the patron saint of England, Andrew after the patron saint of Scotland, Patrick for the patron saint of Ireland, and David after the patron saint of Wales. He was called David in his family, but his style always used the name Edward which was his first name.

George VI: christened Albert Frederick Arthur George, Albert for his great grandfather Prince Albert; Frederick for two godfathers: his great uncle the future King Frederick VIII of Denmark and Friedrich Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; Arthur for another godfather, his great uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught who was a son of Queen Victoria; and George for his father King George V. He was called Bertie in the family and his style always used the name Albert. He took the regnal name George to facilitate a relationship with his father George V after the turmoil of Edward VIII's abdication.
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Post by annis » Thu January 26th, 2012, 4:18 am

I think I should have made it clear that a monarch's regnal name is simply the name used during the period of his or her reign and not necessarily one different from their usual personal name. (Sometimes, though, as in the case of the popes, a different name from a pope's own personal name is always chosen as the papal or regnal name.) In the UK it's part of the royal prerogative that a monarch has the right to choose his/her own regnal name, and as Susan points out most have in fact chosen to use their first baptismal names. I'd be interested to know exactly when this naming right became part of the royal prerogative - does anyone know?
Last edited by annis on Thu January 26th, 2012, 4:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sat February 18th, 2012, 8:57 pm

Annis, so would the house of "Windsor" be a regnal name? Since it was changed during their reign from Saxe-coberg-gotha, i believe, during the great war, to try to veil their German heritage.

Any idea why they settled on "Windsor"? Other than it sounding very British.

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