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By David Bachelor, PhD
Over 400 years ago in England, Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” The headlines this week from the British Isles provide an answer.
On September 20th, the Independent carried the story, “What Is the Royal Family’s Surname?” The article pointed out that before 1917, the kings and queens of the United Kingdom only signed their first name. The rest of their “name” was their ‘house” or dynastic name. Queen Victoria’s children were identified by her husband’s dynasty, the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, part of Germany. During World War I, “The family name was changed as a result of anti-German sentiment…with Windsor chosen after the castle of the same name.” Queen Elizabeth II confirmed Windsor as the royal last name in 1952, even though her husband’s house was Mountbatten (originally called Battenberg, also changed during WW1).
On September 21, a People Magazine headline reported, “Why There Have Been Arguments Over Titles for Archie and Lilibet Behind the Scenes.” This article also took readers back to the 1917 origins of the House of Windsor. Citing King George V’s 1917 edict, the article stated that Harry’s children, Archie and Lilibet “. . . may be entitled to royal titles after King Charles became monarch.” Such a title change has already happened for the children of Prince William, as reflected on the royal family’s website. However, the same website showed no change for Harry’s progeny and his children were “. . . still referred to as ‘Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’ and ‘Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor.’” The King’s spokesperson said the issue would not be addressed until after the mourning period concluded for Queen Elizabeth.
The title changes for Prince William’s children, mentioned in People, were the subject of an article in the e-magazine Town and Country. On Friday, it carried the headline, “Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis Have a New Last Name.” The article noted before Charles was crowned king, William held the title Duke of Cambridge. Thus, William and Kate used “Cambridge” as the last name for their children. After Charles’ coronation, the King made Duke William “Prince of Wales.” After this promotion, William and Kate now use the last name “Wales.” The practical side to all these name changes were reflected at the school for the Cambridge/Wales children. “[T] hey were George Cambridge, Charlotte Cambridge, and Louis Cambridge for two days at school, and now they are George Wales, Charlotte Wales, and Louis Wales.”
Names changes are very common in the Bible. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. Even nations get their names changed. Citing the prophet Hosea, we read in the Letter to the Romans that God said, “I will call them ‘My People’ who are not My people, and I will call her ‘My Beloved’ who is not My beloved’,” and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God’” (Romans 9:25-26).
The school administrators for the George, Charlotte and Louis probably hope King Charles III reigns until all the Wales children have graduated. This way the administrators will not have to reach for the Wite-Out to change the children’s names again. However, these name changes have meant promotions for the children. Believers know that what is true about name changes in Britain has even greater reward in the kingdom of God.