Saturday, 1 February 2014

Modern Day Royals

File:Athenian empire 450.jpg

I am not going to lie, I was underwhelmed by Zara Phillips choice of name for her daughter. The was nothing royal about it, was there? For me, royal names have to wow or at least peak an interest. Usually there is also a strong sense of history behind the names, like with George Louis Alexander. Mia Grace is pretty but far too mainstream to be royal and too 'modern', at least in my book.

One royal that has given his offspring fabulously regal names is Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece. Although the Crown Prince has a title, Greece officially abolished its monarchy and is now governed by a republican constitution. The Crown Prince now lives in London with his wife Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and their five children.

File:Jean-Baptiste Regnault 001.jpgMaria-Olympia - Olympia is a beautiful way honour the family's Greek connections. From Olympos, it paints a picture of the glory days of Athens and Greece. It hints at the aristocratic ancestry, a bit out of the common touch, but still recognisable. Most definitely a name fit for a princess. For art lovers, there is the Manet's Olympia painting which was highly controversial when it was first exhibited in the 1860s. For anyone who thinks that Olympia needs an even more unusual look, there is Olympias, the name ofAlexander the Great's mother.

Constantine-Alexios - Constantine is thoroughly Greek but thoroughly usable in English speaking countries. The upper-class vibe is perfect alongside stuffy-chic Olympia. Constantine really does have the pedigree to be a royal name. It was worn by Emperor Constantine, a key figure in Christian history, and the inspiration behind the name of his empire, Constantinople. It evokes grandeur in the same way that Alexios evokes a certain cool trendiness. Alexander may be traditional, even safe, but Alexios is neither of these things. He is adventurous, mildly daring and really very modern in appearance. The alternative spelling, Alexius was given to five Byzantine emperors. You can't get more royal than that.

Achileas-Andreas - The Crown Prince and Princess were clearly very much influenced by their Greek heritage when choosing their children's names, and this can be seen in their pick of Achileas for their second son. Possibly a variation of the Greek Achilleus, Achileas is an alternative to the more familiar Achilles, the name of the famous mythological warrior and hero. The Ancient Greek form of Andrew, Andreas is the perfect name to ground the unusual Achileas. Although commonly used in Greece, there is a sense of Andreas being an international name, one that is approachable to a number of cultures.

File:GĂ©rard de Lairesse - Mercurius gelast Calypso om Odysseus te laten vertrekken.jpg Odysseas-Kimon - Another choice that screams Greek royal. It is a form of Odysseus and has been worn by some important men in Greek history. Perhaps the most famous being King Odysseus, more commonly known as Ulysses, the hero in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. But there has also been Odysseas Androutso, a key player in the Greek War of Independence (who had a fabulous mustache);  Odysseas Elytis, winner of a Noble Prize in Literature; and Odysseas Angelis, Vice-President of Greece in the 70s. It is unlikely that the prince was named after Angelis as he supported the removal of the monarchy from power. Kimon is a more subtle choice, but still one that is very much in touch with the family's roots. Cimon was an Athenian statesman born into the nobility who shined as a military hero. Both of the little prince's names are heroic, aspirational and very masculine without being unpleasantly over the top macho.

Aristidis-Stavros - I personally think that Aristidis, which is an Ancient Greek form of Aristides, has one of the nicest meanings out there: 'the best kind'. Simple, straightforward, affectionate. It also goes along with the heroic theme of his brothers' names. Aristides was a statesman in Ancient Greece who was known to be one of the most honourable men of his time. It's a nice message to have, one that any child would be delighted to find when researching their name. Stavros, on the other hand, seems to not completely fit in with the light meaning of Aristidis. There is a heaviness to it that doesn't balance, or perhaps the juxtaposition is what makes it work. Like Constantine, it has a history linked to Christianity - it's meaning relating to the crucifixion of Christ.

The Crown Prince and Princess of Greece have given their children names which keep their heritage alive. But it's not surprising, in the past royals have always tended to be very patriotic in their name picks, choosing family names over fashionable ones. The princess and four princes have names that subtly and creatively link to their home country, to a role which, as the monarchy has been overthrown, they will never get to fulfil. It's rather touching really, how their names remain loyal to a country that doesn't have any need for them.

Images: A Map of the Athenian Empire. Mercury Ordering Calypso to Release Odysseus by Gerard de Lairesse. The Education of Achilles by Chiron by Jean-Baptiste Regnault.