Tuesday, May 5, 2015

No Diana Jr.? Hip hip hooray!

Yesterday was kind of a weird day.  It started with me getting offended by the pet names "hon" and "sweetie" and then getting into a rather uncomfortable discussion as to why I hoped Prince William and Duchess Kate didn't name their newborn daughter Diana.  Unlike a lot of people in the world, I don't think Princess Diana was the second coming of Christ.  She was a beautiful, charismatic, fascinating woman, but she was definitely no saint.  She definitely had her share of problems and, in fact, was often a bit immature.  She reportedly suffered from depression and eating disorders and may have even had borderline personality disorder.  If you know anything about BPD, you know that while Diana was certainly amazing in many ways, she was also no doubt very difficult to live with.  

That doesn't mean I didn't admire her, though.  So why wouldn't I want her newborn granddaughter named after her?

I think it's simple.  Princess Diana was the most photographed woman in the world.  In many ways, she was absolutely extraordinary.  People were fascinated by her.  She had an almost mythical popularity, so much so that many people were willing ignore the signs that she was a mere mortal.  Even today, almost eighteen years after her tragic death, people talk about her as if she was completely innocent in the failure of her marriage to Prince Charles.  She wasn't.  Like Charles, she also had an affair.

And really, Charles and Diana were not suited to each other in the first place.  Had he not been royal, it seems unlikely to me that they ever would have gotten together.  He should have married Camilla because she is apparently the love of his life and they are clearly compatible.  Indeed, Charles and Camilla have been together for ten years and we don't hear any salacious stories about cheating or see photos of public tantrums like we did when Diana and Charles were together.  Granted, Charles and Diana did have two fine sons and I think Diana's influence has made the monarchy more popular, not to mention injected some good looks into the royal family genes.  Children between Charles and Camilla may not have been as remarkable or popular.

Duchess Catherine, like Diana, has blossomed in the spotlight.  She's beautiful and poised and people admire her.  Like Diana, she is frequently photographed, though William appears to be a more hands on father and involved husband than Charles was to Diana.  While Kate seems to be taking the royal lifestyle in stride and seems refreshingly down to earth and sensible, I would imagine it's hard to be the wife of a prince.  People are always comparing her to Diana.  That has to be hard, though Kate had the benefit of a normal upbringing out of the spotlight.  Charlotte won't have that luxury.

Little Princess Charlotte has these amazing and beautiful women in her family tree and throughout her life, she will be compared to them.  She will be expected to be beautiful and poised and have the same kind of "magic" others in her family have.  It will probably be difficult for her.  As much as I like the name Diana, it seems unfair to saddle the new princess with that name because it will constantly remind people of her famous grandmother.  People still talk about Diana in hushed tones.  When Kate had a daughter, it was as if maybe finally Diana had come back to life somehow.  What if Charlotte doesn't measure up?

It may seem wrong to bring up the possibility, but there is a chance that Charlotte could end up being what many people would consider a perfectly ordinary person.  Or, she may end up being extraordinary in a way that has nothing to do with her appearance, charm, or skill in dealing with the public.  Maybe she'll be a great writer or a musician or a scientist with perfectly average looks and no charisma to speak of.  Maybe she'll resemble Charles or even her great grandmother, the queen.  She could turn out to be someone who doesn't evoke the memory of Diana at all.

Of course, my guess is that with genes like hers, she will probably turn out to be a physically beautiful woman.  But there is certainly no guarantee.  She may turn out to be nothing like any of her namesakes.  Call her Diana and everyone will be looking for that connection.  Call her Charlotte and they will probably still look, but maybe more people will be reminded that she's her own person and will develop into someone distinct from her mother and grandmothers.

I wouldn't ordinarily object to a baby being named after a parent or a grandparent.  In most cases, I think it's an honor.  On the other hand, Bill has told me that it can be a burden to be named after someone particularly special.  He was named after his maternal grandfather, who was apparently a very well-known and well-liked figure in the small town where he lived.  Bill never knew his namesake because he died when Bill's mother was only fourteen years old.  Bill's mother and aunt adored their dad and when Bill was born, they seemed to think maybe he'd come back to them through Bill.

Bill has confessed that he often felt expected to be his grandfather.  He was frequently compared to him and, in fact, does look a lot like him.  I think maybe he felt like sometimes people didn't want him to be himself.  Instead, they wanted him to channel his beloved grandfather.  I can't blame people for missing those who have passed, especially when they have died too young.  Bill's grandfather was very young to die.  So was Princess Diana.  But even though Bill resembles his grandfather and is supposedly like him in many ways, he is still an individual apart from his namesake.  He's not his grandfather; he is himself.  Who he is is incredible in its own way.

I suspect that had William and Kate given in to popular opinion and named their daughter Diana, some might forget that Charlotte is a separate person from Diana and Kate and the other women in her family.  Besides, if Charlotte grows up to be totally awesome, shouldn't regular people be able to name their kids after her?

I do think it's fitting that Diana is one of the middle names.  It's yet another tribute to an extraordinary woman.  When I was discussing this with friends yesterday, someone brought up that using Diana in the name is a "beautiful tribute".  I might argue that Diana, more than most people, has had many beautiful tributes.  In fact, many babies were named after her while she was still alive.  After she died, many more babies were named after her and many memorials were erected.  Songs were composed.  Poems and essays and news articles were written.  Movies were made.  How many tributes does a person really need?

Catherine is even wearing Diana's wedding ring, which was touted as a "tribute" to Diana.  It's a beautiful ring, but what does it symbolize?  Charles and Diana were not happily married.  William and Kate appear to be very happy together, but their marriage is still young.  There is no telling what the future holds.  They could be one of the world's most enduring couples, or they could end up like Charles and Diana, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, or Andrew and Sarah (though they are still apparently good friends).

I just think that being a princess who is scrutinized by the world is going to be a tough enough job for Princess Charlotte without the heavy baggage of the name Diana.  Many people disagree with me.  I get it.  However, when I read comments like "Diana has come back to deal with unfinished business." about Princess Charlotte's birth, I can't help but feel a little concerned for that baby.  Fortunately, in William and Kate, Charlotte has loving parents who, I'm sure, will raise her to be extraordinary in her own way.  I wish them all luck.



  1. Charlotte is quite the trendy name these days. i'm glad the little princess got a trendy name instead of some relic from generations past, although some old-fashioned names are pretty. It's nice that Charlotte was chosen in light of its derivative form of Charles, especially since Prince Charles reportedly very much wanting a granddaughter. (He really wanted Harry to be a girl, although from all accounts, he is quite close to Prince Harry) The idea of using the baby's great-grandmother's and grandmother's names as middle names was a nice touch.

    Regarding princess Diana, I think she was just too young to marry into such a high pressure situation, especially when Prince Charles was in love with someone else. Perhaps I'm idealizing her in death beyond what she actually was in life, but I suspect she would not have had an extramarital affair had Charles not done so first and had her marriage been happy from the beginning. the poor girl, despite her own nobility, really had no idea into what she was getting. Poor Charles was between a roack and a hard place himself as well, not having the freedom to marry whomever he desired. he and Camilla should have married in the first place. They're so obviously meant to be together, and seem so happy.

    Whatever Diana's mental health diagnosis, I suspexct it would not have existed, or at leasdt not to the extent that it did, had she not married into such a high profile situation at such a very young age. at least Kate was both older and educated, and also from a much healthier family situation. She seems to have much more a sense of self, ad she and William appear to have married for loe and not for the sake of continuing the monarchy. After all, she's a "filty commoner" (the words of British soldiers in describing their disdain for the union -- NOT my words.)

    We don't have a crystal ball and cannot foresee the future, but I'd give William and Kate as much of a chance as any other young married couple despite the fishbowl existence in which they're forced to live.

    All of that being said, though, i wonder how much longer thee monarchy can last. Many subjects seem highly resentful of this family living off public funds.simply by virtue of bloodlines, and I can't say that I blasme them. Still, I find the whole concept charming in a way.

    1. Well, Diana came from a broken home herself. Her parents divorced very acrimoniously when she was seven years old. By many accounts, she had a difficult childhood and, from what I read, was raised with a parent who had problems with alcoholism and depression. Many people who have BPD had similar upbringings. Certainly marrying into the royal family exacerbated her issues. If she had BPD, it was probably hell being married to Charles, whose duties force him to travel. People with BPD have serious abandonment issues.

      19 is very young to be marrying a royal with all its duties and the royal family has evolved since 1981, when Charles was expected to marry a virgin from a noble family. Even in the 80s, I imagine it would have been hard for him to find an appropriate wife who was older than Diana was at the time. And even if she had the best childhood ever, I think their marriage would have failed. They simply had nothing in common and were poorly matched. I'm glad the rules are more sensible now and William was able to choose someone who was appropriate for him.

      I think William and Kate could be married forever and I hope they are. I was just pointing out that long marriages are not necessarily the rule in that family or in society in general. Moreover, I would imagine it's very stressful to be royal, especially if you weren't born into it. They could stay married and in love until one of them dies. Or they could split up, like so many other couples do.

      I think a lot of people would be fine seeing the monarchy go, although if there's one thing Brits seem to enjoy, it's tradition and pageantry. No one does that like they do... So if the monarchy ever goes away, it'll probably be after I'm dead.


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