King William: Prince William could change his name when he takes the throne

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Prince William, 38, is the eldest child of Prince Charles, 71, and is heir to the British throne. The prince is years off becoming king as his father Prince Charles is expected to reign before him, however, when he does take the throne he may undergo a name change.

A constitutional expert has explained the trend by which presiding sovereign may choose the name they reign by (regnal name).

Expert Iain MacMarthanne told “What regnal name a monarch chooses to call themselves, and their reasons for doing so, is very much personal to the monarch in question.

“Recent reigns highlight this fact. Victoria’s first name was Alexandrina, yet she chose as her regnal name the one she had been known by all her life.

“Conversely, her son had been known as Bertie (Albert) all of his life, after his father, but upon his accession, and to distance himself from both his parents, he chose the more familiar kingly name of Edward.”

Mr MacMarthanne added: “His grandson, despite being known to family and friends as David, chose Edward VIII upon becoming king; and after his abdication, and to ensure a sense of continuity, his brother Prince Albert, known to all as Bertie, chose to be known as George VI.”

As well as the kings and queen’s of the past the tradition of picking regnal names remains to this day.

Mr MacMarthanne explained: “Even our present Queen, in the immediate aftermath of being told of her father’s death, was asked by which regnal name she would be known by, from her own names she could have been alternatively Alexandra or Mary, or indeed any name of her choosing.”

Prince Charles’s full name is Charles Philip Arthur George and Prince William’s full name is William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor.

They may choose to be known by any of these first names when they are king.

Mr MacMarthanne said: “With these practices in mind there has been speculation that Prince Charles might choose the regnal name George to honour his grandfather out of respect to his grandmother the late Queen Mother.

“Likewise with Prince William’s accession he too will have the opportunity to choose his regnal name but it might not necessarily be the one we have come to know him by.

“What is clear though is that the names our queens and kings choose have invariably been used before and are familiar.”


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The expert added: “Unless seeking to buck this trend, and with neither Scotland, England, or the United Kingdom having had a King Arthur, Philip or Louis before, the likelihood would be that William will become William V.’

UCL’s Constitution unit also addresses this trend on its website.

In answer to the question ‘Will Prince Charles become King Charles III?’, the experts write: “Not necessarily.

“He is free to choose his own regnal title.”

The answer continues: “King Edward VII chose Edward as his regnal title, although hitherto he had been known by his first name of Albert.”

“King Edward VIII also chose Edward as his regnal title, although he was known to his family and friends as David.

“Prince Charles’s Christian names are Charles Philip Arthur George.

“Instead of becoming King Charles, he might choose to become King George VII, or King Philip, or King Arthur.”

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