Suffice it to say, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was not necessarily the name that was expected for Prince Harry’s son. In fact, if you bet on the name Archie, it might be time to play the lottery: oddsmakers previously predicted the name Archie at 100/1 odds, receiving only 60 bets placed. As anticipated Archie was largely overshadowed by more traditional royal names like, well, the rest of his family, for example, his father (Henry Charles Albert David), his uncle (William Arthur Philip Louis), his cousin (George Alexander Louis), and his grandfather (Charles Philip Arthur George).
Still, being seventh in the line of succession for the British throne, there’s a lot to be learned and understood from a name. The first noticeable difference can be found in the surname, Mountbatten-Windsor, which, stemming from the adopted surname of Prince Philip and the Queen’s House of Windsor (since 1917) and given to all of their descendants, indicates Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wishes that their child grows up outside of the limelight. Usage of Harrison as a second or middle name hearkens back to the Middle Ages, where it was used as a patronymic meaning ‘the son of Harry (or Henry)’. But what about that first name?
While it has been noted that Archie – instead of the more formal Archibald – does have, according to People Magazine a more “casual, American vibe”, it is far from being without its own merit. Not only does the name appear in the prince’s own lineage – Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll of Scotland, was a distant relative of his mother, Princess Diana – but the name also ranked (#19) on the top 20 baby boy names in the UK in 2018, thought one assumes that it may increase in ranking in the next several years.
Much like the House of Windsor, which was a wartime name change from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (due to the desire to distance the British monarchy from anti-German sentiment), the name Archibald and its derivatives stem from the Germanic terms erchan, which has an original meaning of ‘genuine or precious’, and bald, which can be translated as ‘bold’. Indeed, some of the first uses of the name apply this old spelling, such as the Old High German Erchambald, Erkanbold, and the Anglo-Saxon Eorcenbald.
As for what inspired the changes to the word, it comes from the same people that changed our language itself – the Normans. Differing from the Germans, Old French, being influenced by Greek names beginning with the element αρχος (archos), meaning ‘master or chief’, had also adopted and adapted the name, now meaning ‘bold master’. After 1066, well, the Anglo-Saxon Germanic spelling and understanding of the name soon became historical, replaced by the Norman French version, Archibald.
Though it may seem unorthodox, in a way, it all makes sense. Though all of his names, like the monarchy itself, are steeped in history and possess several distinct meanings, when put together, it spells a unique and different name given by parents with a different outlook on what it means to be a royal.