LONDON With a haste unusual in the royal familys handling of such matters, Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, announced Wednesday that they had named their 2-day-old son George Alexander Louis thus setting him on a course, assuming he ascends the throne, to one day become King George VII.
On his birth Monday, the infant became third in line to the throne, after his grandfather Prince Charles and his father. Since Charles is 64 and William is 31, and Queen Elizabeth II appears in robust health at 87, the reign of a new King George, with all the resonance the name carries in the 1,000-year history of the British monarchy, could be decades away.
The announcement from Kensington Palace, where William and Kate will make their London home, said that the infant would be formally known as Prince George of Cambridge.
The title derives from the decision of Queen Elizabeth to revive the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, unused since Queen Victorias time, and bestow them on William and Kate when they married in April 2011.
The official naming announcement was brief, and with William, Kate and the baby having left London at lunchtime to stay with Carole and Michael Middleton, Kates parents, at their secluded country home west of London, the couple were unavailable for any comment on their decision. But the choice of George, at least, came as little surprise, since it had led the odds in Britains betting shops.
Beyond its historical resonance there have been six King Georges, and one, George III, has come down in history for his bouts of madness, and for having lost the war to keep the American colonies Georges status as the bookies front-runner derived from compelling sentimental significance to the royals.
HISTORY OF GEORGE
Queen Elizabeths father, who died of lung cancer in 1952, was King George VI. Friends said William wanted his son to be named after his great-grandfather as a token of his affection for the queen.
The naming announcement came a few hours after Queen Elizabeth had been driven to Kensington Palace to see the new baby for the first time.
Friends of Kates said that the choice of Alexander for a second name a name not common among the royals reflected her strong preference. But the third name, Louis, royal officials said, reflected another strong royal sentiment, the fondness of Charles for Lord Louis Mountbatten, who as an admiral, led Britains armed forces.
He was assassinated by an Irish Republican Army bomb in 1979. Biographers of Charles, whose boyhood was marked by a distant relationship with his parents, have said that he regarded Mountbatten as a surrogate father.