It seems like the world has never been more crazed for news about the royal family, gobbling up every tidbit from where they go, what they're wearing, and what they like to do when they're not off being royalty. But with all that is known about the family, there’s still one thing that most people find a little confusing: What’s up with their surname? And with a brand new baby in the mix, it’s a good time to revisit the question and find out whether little Prince Louis will use a last name in the future.
Although the royal family doesn’t technically have a surname, according to the family's official website, if Prince Louis follows in the footsteps of his father, Prince William, and uncle, Prince Harry, then he may choose to adopt one, but only for particular reasons. Both the princes decided to use a last name when they went into military service and used the name Wales in recognition of their father’s position as the Prince of Wales, according to In Style.
The rules governing surnames of the royal family are fairly simple, but the history is very complex. In short, if someone has the initials HRH attached to their name — which stands for His/Her Royal Highness — then they do not "need" to have a last name at all, according to the royal family’s website. Sometimes, though, even these people find occasions when it’s easiest to have one, like for military service or school, and they have a few options that they can choose from.
Prince Louis' full title is His Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge, according to Harper's Bazaar, so he could go either way.
First, a little background information: The royal family only began using a last name fairly recently. Until 1917, members of the royal family never used a surname at all, according to the family’s website. Instead they adopted the name of their father’s “house” like the House of York or House of Tudor. In the run-up to World War I, King George V felt his house name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha sounded too German and decided to take the name of the castle, Windsor, as his own, according to the royal family's website.
When Queen Elizabeth married Prince Phillip they decided they wanted their descendants to have their own identity. The family’s site explains that they merged their two names — Prince Phillip had taken the name Mountbatten when he entered the Navy — and dubbed their descendants to be Mountbatten-Windsor.
But as Prince Harry and Prince William have shown the rules are somewhat flexible. Just as they were free to choose a name based on their father’s identity, Prince William and Middleton seem to be leaning a similar direction with their own children. When they entered Prince George in school recently, they signed him in as George Cambridge, according to The Sun. If they follow the same for Prince Louis, his full name will be Prince Louis Arthur Charles Cambridge, or simply Louis Cambridge.
That would give Prince Louis a name that honors men across the generations of his family. He is named Louis after Prince Phillip’s uncle, who introduced the queen and the young prince, according to The Sun. Arthur is thought to be an homage to King Arthur and is a middle name shared by Prince William and Prince Charles, as The Sun noted, and of course Charles is a tribute to the baby’s grandfather, Prince Charles.
Prince Louis still has a few more years before he, or his family, has to decide on any of this. But one thing is for sure: when the time comes, it looks like he has more options than most of us.