THEY DID IT.
THEY DID THAT.
They surprised everyone! NOBODY had Archie on their lists. Not a single person in all the opining about Philip and Spencer and Charles had any of these names anywhere on their list… which means I am so proud of these Sussexes I can’t even see straight.
Because there was pressure, obviously, not just to come up with a name, but to keep going with what’s become the emblematic Harry & Meghan brand: “we’re going to be modern and only adhere to as much tradition as we feel like, thank you very much”.
The most obvious way this is manifesting is that they’ve decided to eschew a royal title for BABY ARCHIE (we’ll get there, I promise). He will grow up without an official title, which isn’t unprecedented; by virtue of not being directly in line for the throne, he isn’t entitled to one – but the Queen has offered courtesy titles in the past. Prince Andrew took her up on it (by which I mean he probably insisted upon it) for Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, but Princess Anne preferred for her children, Peter and Zara, not to be official royals, because she felt it afforded them more freedom.
This is exactly on brand for Harry and Meghan who (sorry, but I told you so!) aren’t interested in saddling their tiny baby with all the obligations of royal life and the expectations of being an overtly public figure – and yes, that includes any references to Diana Frances Spencer. At the risk of blowing my own horn, I said over and over that they’d had too many negative experiences with the press to knowingly confer more of that life and scrutiny on their child before he’s had the opportunity to choose it for himself.
And himself is Archie. Archie!!!
There are so many ways this is trailblazing I can’t wrap my head around it. First of all, it’s not Archibald, which is what I first assumed. They’ve announced his name as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor on their Instagram…
...meaning this is as official as it gets, it’s not just a nickname imbued by the press.
In fact, Lainey sent me this link from the end of January that references Prince George referring to himself as Archie so maybe that was a beloved pet name for George that Harry and Meghan adored – or, knowing 5-year-olds, maybe that royal scamp heard them musing about the name and decided to co-opt it for himself. I hope so.
Either way, it’s a relatively unknown name where history and pedigrees are concerned. I should point out that I’m a Name Nerd/Therapist and not a Royal Historian, so you can feel free to correct me, but initial searches confirm that Archie doesn’t appear anywhere easily sourced in the royal family – it’s utterly and completely his own…
… At least within the royal family. In the UK, though, it ranked at #18 in 2017 (name statistics take forever to be released, so this is the most recent) and it’s sure to climb now. For reference, on that list, Harry sits at #2, George is #3, Charlotte at #12 …and Louis is at #82. Lol. Plus, I have to believe it’s not an accident that the name also belongs to many notable Black men, like mathematician and politician Archie Alexander, or Canadian jazz musician Archie Alleyne. Do I think they necessarily chose a name that had notable men of colour bearing it? Not necessarily – but I don’t think they didn’t consider that, or eliminate names that didn’t qualify. Archie can be anything. Archie can go anywhere …and has.
Once again, the message is clear: Archie is going to be as regular a kid as possible. A friend immediately joked “hope he doesn’t have red hair!” but the thing is, even if he does (and I’d love that, frankly), there’s already a redheaded Archie in the zeitgeist, thanks to KJ Apa and the CW. Their intent here is very obvious – it’s not Reginald or Balthazar or anything overly pretentious, it’s pointedly not Archibald, they’re being very overt about what the name choice imparts.
Because name choices always, always mean a lot. Case in point? The middle name. It’s Harrison, which is first of all very much on trend with all the ‘-on’ names in the zeitgeist right now, but also, it’s literally “Harry’s son”… and that’s it. No tributes to Charles or Philip or anyone else. No references to his mother’s family. Not because of any animosity on either side, but because they’re determined to give this kid his own fresh start, without any baggage. By choosing this name, they’ve taken away the obligations and implications of history and royal birth, instead of piling them on before he’s even figured out that he has fingers.
The Sussexes have done it again. They are playing a totally new game. And they’re so good at it that we all just sit back and watch.