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Naming a Royal Baby? Try This Jewish Tradition

Some tried-and-true advice for Kate and William who await the birth of their second child

Rachel Shukert
April 23, 2015
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leave St Paul's Cathedral after a Service of Commemoration for troops who were stationed in Afghanistan on March 13, 2015 in London, England. ((Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images))
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leave St Paul’s Cathedral after a Service of Commemoration for troops who were stationed in Afghanistan on March 13, 2015 in London, England. ((Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images))

You guys, there’s a new royal baby coming any day now! You might have forgotten about it since none of us are quite as excited this time around—the curse of the second child persists no matter how many bizarre gold statues he or she is likely to receive as a christening gift from the Sultanate of Brunei, it seems—but that doesn’t mean it’s not slowly positioning itself at the inside end of the Duchess of Cambridge’s dainty and immaculately groomed birth canal as I write.

The British press is camped at the door of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London. The Daily Mail is breathlessly writing about which of Kate Middleton’s identical friends is most likely to be named the Royal Tasteful Wrap Dress Wearer-in-Chief to the court of the new little princeling, and every other website in the universe, devoid of any pertinent information or actual details to write about, is contenting themselves with trying to guess what its name will be.

Or should I say her name, since the ultrasound of public opinion seems to have already decided it’s going to be a girl, based on little intelligence other than the fact that we’ve already got a boy, and maybe, possibly, Duchess Kate (is that what we’re supposed to call her? Why couldn’t they just have her be a princess like a normal human being?) ordered some sample pots of pink paint from some fancy hardware store. If this is the case, then precisely what goes on Her Royal Highness’s birth certificate is, to use an appropriately British phrase, a bit of a sticky wicket.

Naturally, the public—and it seems, the American public in particular, unlike the British who is a) a little less obvious about these things and b) genuinely doesn’t care—thinks it’s only fair that she should be named Diana…after Dame Diana Rigg, star of The Avengers, The Great Muppet Caper, and most recently Game of Thrones. No, I’m kidding. It would be after a different Diana. And that might make the palace, by which I mean the Queen, who just turned 89 this week and therefore is no longer of an age when she feels she needs to keep her opinions to herself (I imagine, anyway), rather testy.

Luckily, I’ve got a perfect solution for honoring a family member yet avoiding a name that might have unpleasant connotations for some. I’m sure you know someone who’s done it. You might even be the one it was done to. That’s right; I’m talking about the American Jewish naming tradition that allows you to honor the names of your ancestors without making it sound like your child was born 97 years old, staring with blank horror out the window of a nursing home while reliving some horrible trauma from youth. Ask any Steve named after a Shlomo or Susie named after a Shluva—all you need is to slap a shared first initial on there and everybody’s happy.

Just give her a “D” name—there’s plenty of pleasant, appropriately royal-ish sounding names to go around, especially for a little girl who, barring some hideous accident to Prince Chubbycheeks, will never have to reign under it. Delia. Daphne. Deirdre. Dora. Dagmar (you laugh, but it’s good enough for the Danes.) Or what about Daisy, which is an adorable name, and also, because of its associations with the name Margaret (Marguerite means “daisy” in French; hence the daisy was the preferred symbol of Marguerite of Anjou, and became a nickname for the English version of the name), it could also been seen as honoring the Queen’s late sister. Princess Daisy—I like it.

And if it does happen to be a boy?

My vote is for another “D” name: David. It’s got Windsor precedent, it’s the name of the patron saint of Wales (a nice touch, with the Welsh connection of the heirs to the throne), and a form of the name occurs in virtually every language, religion, and culture.

And you know what? I seem to recall there may have been a famous king with that name too.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.

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