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  • Rachel Burchfield

What’s in a name?


CREDIT: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA

First of all – a big hello and a warm welcome to The Duchess Commentary. I am a writer by day and a Royal Watcher by night, so this blog is where those two passions will meld. I am going to write about everything, y’all. I have been a Royal Watcher since I can remember, so I have a lot to say, and, finally, I have a platform to do it. You can expect everything from light and fluffy commentary on the Duchess’ fashion on any given week to deep, introspective commentary about adultery and mental illness in the Royal Family and anything else I feel warrants attention. You can expect to hear from me many times every week in short and long entries, and we are, of course, going to talk about the Duchesses – Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex – but also everyone in the Royal Family, living and dead. We’re covering it all here, past, present, and future. I could not be more excited about this project, and, as always, if you have a question or want to read about a certain topic, never hesitate to contact me.


It’s important to note that all of these views are mine and mine alone and there will likely be times that you disagree with me. There will likely be times I get it wrong. There will likely be times when I stir the pot. That’s because these are my views based off of a lifetime of following this Family, and I have 32 years’ worth of material to talk about. But it is important to know that everything I write comes from a place of not only love, but deep respect for the British monarchy. Just like within the bonds of your own family, you can disagree with a family member and still love and respect them. For example – it won’t take you long to uncover that I am not a fan of Prince Charles. At all. I am looking forward to his inevitable ascension as much as I look forward to dental work, or childbirth, or working out – all three things that terrify me, but that must, unfortunately, be done. Yet, although I am not an aficionado of the Prince of Wales personally, I still respect him and the institution he serves.


Now that we’ve established that I’m going to stir the pot, let’s talk about the reason why I started this blog in the first place – Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the newest member of the Firm (a nickname for the Royal Family), born on Monday, May 6, 2019, one week ago today.


I have written so many posts on my Facebook about the Royal Pregnancy that my Facebook friends started requesting my opinion on certain topics. Archie’s name is one of said topics. One friend suggested I write a blog post about my feelings on the name. So, here we are.


Everyone has been trying to deep dive on Archie’s name and dissect it to its core. Here’s my thoughts. I think the first name is a combination of two things – a.) Harry and Meghan have a personal reason for liking the name, i.e. maybe they met a little kid on one of their engagements whose name was Archie and he charmed them, and they just fell in love with the name and b.) Archie is actually a very popular boy’s name in the U.K., and they just went with the trendy option. (Although in the U.S. Archie is not a popular moniker, a lot of little British boys are named Archie – it is actually the eighteenth most popular boy’s name.) All of this to say that what the Duke and Duchess name their child is their choice and theirs alone, and if they like it, I’m happy.


But I hate it.


First of all, even though Archie is seventh in line to the throne and will likely never ascend, I still believe it is incumbent upon members of the direct line to the throne to exercise decorum in name selection. However, this is not always done. I see so many parallels between Princess Anne (the Queen’s only daughter and the second of her four children) and Meghan. First of all, they both chose nontraditional names for their children – Anne named her daughter Zara, and Meghan, of course, named her son Archie. They also both opted to not use royal titles with their children, probably to give their children a sense of normalcy. (I will likely talk about the Anne/Meghan comparison and the decision not to give Archie a royal title in a later post. This post is strictly my thoughts on the name.) I think Archie is far too casual for any member of the Royal Family. First of all, it’s a nickname, the equivalent of putting “Mike” on a birth certificate instead of Michael or “Dave” instead of David. I have seen everyone trying to tie back to Diana through some long lost, distant cousin of hers named Archibald. I’ve also seen people trying to justify this name by leaning on its meaning of “genuine,” “bold,” and “brave.” Nope. I don’t think it’s that calculated. I literally think it just came down to Harry and Meghan liked the name, they thought it brought about some normalcy because it’s a popular name, and they wanted to buck tradition. Good for them. But, I still hate it.


And also, if that little boy has red hair – which he might, because we haven’t seen him without his little cap on – and they named him Archie, a la Archie Andrews from the comics and Riverdale ­– come on, y’all. That’s just not right.


Okay, Harrison. I love the name Harrison! Except for literally every single situation other than if he is the son of a man named Harry. Harrison is a name I would even name my own son – except if my husband’s name was Harry. Whereas I don’t think Archie was calculated at all, Harrison is too calculated, to the point of being cheesy. Harrison = Harry’s son. Yech.


Because Archie did not get a royal title – again, wait for me to talk about that in another blog entry – he takes on the last name Mountbatten-Windsor. I’ll have to do another blog entry on last names in the Royal Family, because it’s complicated, and this post is already running long. But Mountbatten is Prince Philip’s family name and Windsor is Queen Elizabeth’s family name, and when they married the line became Mountbatten-Windsor. (It should have just been the House of Windsor, but because Philip is about as machismo as it comes, he couldn’t stomach taking his wife’s name rather than she taking his, so Elizabeth relented and compromised on the combined surname Mountbatten-Windsor. For a great explanation of this whole debacle, watch Netflix’s The Crown. If you are reading this and haven’t already watched The Crown at least three times, what are you thinking! Hop to it!) Now, William and Kate’s children take on the surname Cambridge – George is in school and instead of being referred to as Prince George, he is called George Cambridge. Why is Archie not Archie Sussex, in that same vein? Because Harry and Meghan wanted it that way. Harry hero worships his grandfather, Philip. Choosing to give his son the surname Mountbatten-Windsor is a nod to that. Harry has little ties to Sussex; after all, he’s only been a Sussex himself since his wedding day not even a year ago. But his choice of Mountbatten-Windsor is very significant and meant to honor his grandparents, most specifically his grandfather, by ensuring that the Mountbatten name carries on.


Bottom line? The name is another clue that Harry and Meghan are going to do it their way, on their terms, and, likely often, against the grain. They are going to strive for normalcy and privacy, because, as they move deeper down the line of succession thanks to William and Kate’s growing brood, they have that luxury offered to them.


I can remember when Meghan got out of the car to walk up the steps to St. George’s Chapel on her wedding day and the totality of her wedding dress was displayed. I had been excited to see the full dress for months and when I finally saw it I was – underwhelmed. Instead of crying tears of joy like I did when I saw the full effect of Kate’s dress, I just looked over at my mom and said “…Oh.” But, over time, the dress has grown on me and as I understand Meghan more, I understand her choice that day more. Maybe in time I will learn to like the name and understand the choice of it more. But, regardless if they called him Archie or Spencer or Albert or Tyrannosaurus Rex, that baby is absolutely beautiful and has made history. And that’s enough for me.

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