By George


2013_meredith_jacobsI knew it would be George.

I joked after the birth of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Cambridge, “I’m thinking David, after Diana. King David has a nice ring to it.”

Joking because not only is David not a traditional British royal name, there is no way the Queen would allow the third in line for the throne to be named after Diana! Not after the whole divorcing Charles and running off with Dodi Al Fayed thing. (Not that I spoke with the Queen or anything, but just assuming.)

For whom the baby is named is a big deal. I heard that when Prince William was born Diana and Charles had to delay announcing his name to allow the palace time to check out every royal who previously had the name.

George Alexander Louis.

While I’m not a royal family insider, I claim expertise in all things royal along with all the other women who remember as little girls waking up very early to watch a real princess get married. To this day, I remember the very young Diana being so nervous she messed up Charles’ full name, Charles Philip Arthur George. She said Philip Charles Arthur George. Poor girl. Strike one on the wedding day.

I’ve got to believe “George” is after Grandpa Charles.

For my fellow royal baby-bump watchers, we learned that Alexandra was the odds-on favorite had the baby been a princess — Alexandra being Queen Elizabeth’s middle name. Alexander must be a tribute to good ol’ great-grandmom.

The name Louis I remember from waking up early to watch William and Catherine’s wedding. William Arthur Philip Louis.

One name. Three generations.

I love that. I love that there was no way he would have been named Ethan or Jake. I love that the name means something, connects him to history and family.

I love that about our traditions of naming our children. The Sephardim traditionally name the first child after the paternal grandparents and subsequent children after those of the maternal grandparents. The Askenazi tradition honors family members who have passed.

My grandfather, Maurice, died on my mother’s 25th birthday. She is the youngest of his four daughters. The shock of his death sent her into labor with me, and I was born two weeks early. My family has always told me that it was a great honor to my grandfather that he had a name, that there was a baby named after him, before he was buried. My mother and my aunts always told me how special I am to them because I was named after their father. My grandmother gave me a diamond ring on my 16th birthday that my grandfather had given to her. She gave it to me, she said, because I was named after Poppy. I wear it only on the most special occasions. One day, God willing, I will give it to a granddaughter.

When it came time to name our children, Jonathan and I thought a lot about who the names would honor. What kind of people had carried the names first. By naming our children, we were making wishes that they would inherit certain traits and placing blessings that they would be as loved.

So while not all babies inherit an actual kingdom, be they George or Julian, Alexandra or Sofie, may all babies be blessed with names that mean family.

Meredith Jacobs is managing editor of JT’s sister publication, Washington Jewish Week.

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