Much like ardent young royal watchers of today, enamored by the Duchess of Cambridge’s very being, I was similarly enamored by Diana, Princess of Wales when I was a youngster. She was a rare breed. Stunningly beautiful, immediately accessible, witty, charming and endearingly mischievous; she was a one in a million. Of course that was long before the, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” type interviews and tell-all books alleging suicide attempts and acts of betrayal, but back then I was unaware of her more scandalous infamy. I quite simply adored her…I still do.
Now, as the world awaits the impending birth of William and Kate’s second baby, potential names have become the topic of rampant speculation and heated debate. More accurately, girl’s names are causing the biggest stir as there seems to be a worldwide assumption that the couple are expecting a princess. If assumptions are indeed correct she will be the first Princess of Cambridge born into the royal family in 182 years. The birth of any baby is cause for celebration, but given the recent changes in the Laws to Succession, her arrival would be a historical one.
In choosing a name, titled royals tend to turn to the family tree, as opposed to 100,001 Best Baby Names. Traditionally they pick dynastic names, and there are in fact a wide variety to choose from. Elizabeth, Alice, Victoria and Charlotte have all been frontrunners, but the sentimental favorite among punters remains…Diana. In a Today Show poll 32% of Americans predicted the name was a shoo-in, and in the UK the bookies’ odds of a baby named after her late-Grandmother change almost daily as Diana becomes an increasingly popular choice. That said, in the event the couple do welcome a baby girl, it is my hope that they do not name her Diana.
Today Diana’s name is as divisive as the very institution of monarchy itself. While some have virtually sainted her, others have been vehemently critical, accusing her of being childish, unhinged and self-serving. Contrary to popular belief the Queen was very fond of Diana, but should her name be bestowed as a first name upon the baby, it would be perceived as a slap in the face to the monarchy. In the years since Earl Spencer’s scathing attack on the Windsors at Diana’s funeral, the nation has moved on and Diana’s legacy has been celebrated. She has become a part of royal history. Her memory has been preserved, and the royal family is once again enjoying a renewed sense of popularity. Out of respect to the Queen, Charles, Camilla and the baby herself the couple simply wouldn’t do it. Diana’s name conjures up both positive and negative responses the world over, and whichever side of the fence you’re on the moniker seems to me an almighty burden for a newborn baby to carry.
Since Diana’s death almost eighteen years ago, William has honoured his mother’s memory in a private and personal fashion. He has taken on many of her patronages and continued to champion her causes. At his wedding in 2011 the Bishop of London The Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres, a close friend of Diana and executor of her will, gave the address. He also conducted Kate’s confirmation at The Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, where Diana’s coffin rested in the week following her death. The hymn Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer, which was sung at both Diana’s funeral in 1997 and at the memorial marking the tenth anniversary of her death in 2007, was chosen for the royal wedding. Julia Samuel, also a close friend of Diana, was asked to serve as a Godmother to Prince George. William chose Kensington Palace, his own childhood home, to be the primary residence for his family, and perhaps in the most public acknowledgment of his mother’s memory, he gave Kate Diana’s engagement ring. William doesn’t need to name his second-born child after his mother in order to honour her; he does so by being a good husband and father.
I still miss Diana. She was a one-off, and I don’t believe the world will ever witness another quite like her. Daily comparisons to her late mother-in-law are already Kate’s cross to bear. Shouldn’t a baby girl be spared the same fate? Diana’s tragic, untimely death and iconic status will ensure her memory is kept alive for generations to come. She wouldn’t want her granddaughter to languish in her shadow. She would want her to go out into the world, to make her own mark and help those less fortunate, to enrich the lives of others and to carve out her own unique identity…possibly as Alice, Elizabeth, Victoria, Charlotte or my own personal pick – Alexandra.