Prince William could’ve been a different man. Had Prince Charles had his way, the heir apparent would be going by a different name. Princess Diana made all the difference. Here’s the story.
What’s In A Name?
William’s full name is Prince William, Arthur Philip Louis. He’s also gone by William Mountbatten-Windsor, and by William Wales. Once he ascends, he’s free to take pretty much any name he wants, but until then he’s primarily known the world over as Prince William. This very nearly was not the case.
When you look at William’s fleet of middle names, you’ll find names of kings of yore. The first Arthur is especially significant. King Arthur is a historical British leader who… probably didn’t actually exist. That being said, the influence of the legend is literally incalculable. Monty Python And The Holy Grail has the definitive film portrayal if you’d like to learn more.
Charles’ First Choice
Historian Robert Lacey penned an essay for People about the possible King William IV. He writes that both Diana and Charles wanted strong historical names for their firstborn. Diana wanted William as in William the Conqueror, but Charles originally felt different. He wanted to name his son Arthur.
The two obviously landed on William but kept Arthur as his second name. This second name has in turn been passed down to his third child Prince Louis. Louis’ full name is Louis Arthur Charles. Louis was chosen to honor the baby’s great-great-great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, whom Charles Dance immortalized on The Crown.
Why did the couple choose William over Arthur? Well, it was a bit more robust, and a bit less stuffy. In the United States, William was the 15th most common male baby name of the 1980s while Arthur was ranked 164 (only one below Willie.) To be fair to the name Arthur, Prince William likely seriously impacted the boom in babies named William.
Anything Can Happen
William could still become King Arthur. Once he ascends the throne, he’s free to choose whatever royal name he pleases. While his grandmother chose to keep the name Elizabeth, his great-grandfather King George VI was born Albert Frederick Arthur George.
We still have an entire Charles reign to get through before that happens, however. Despite what tabloids would tell you, Charles is still next in line to become king. There’s no saying when that will happen either. Charles is now the longest monarch-in-waiting ever. Elizabeth has guided the commonwealth through nearly a century of unprecedented change and will continue to sit until the day she dies.