Mark Washburn

Princess honored with a world-class name

Prince William The Duke of Cambridge and Kate Middleton The Duchess of Cambridge show off their new arrival the Princess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana .
Prince William The Duke of Cambridge and Kate Middleton The Duchess of Cambridge show off their new arrival the Princess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana . TNS

Hey, kiddo. Great name.

Getting named after the largest city in the Carolinas will give you a distinct advantage in life, which is probably why your parents – William, a prince, and Kate, a duchess – bestowed it upon you.

Oh, we know that some royal watchers think that the name Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana is a nod to all sorts of ancestors, but we know it’s really all about us.

You see, we know what’s in a name. And sadly, we also know what’s not. It’s a bit of a downer, but if you’re ready for your first bedtime story, here’s what happened.

Once upon a time, there was a new frontier and people were beetling all around making up names for cities. They liked to name their cities for famous people and places back in merry old England, which is how we got Charleston, Salisbury, Wilmington and – of course – North Carolina’s capital city, Walter.

A group of loyalists wanted to carve a new county out of the existing one named Anson (named for British admiral George Anson, who circumnavigated the globe during the War of Jenkins’ Ear, which is a story for another night). To curry favor with the crown, they decided to name it “Mecklenburg,” after the region in Germany where the queen came from.

Just to be sure it would get the proper attention, they named the county seat “Charlotte,” after the queen, who was wife to King George III.

What a bummer

And then they waited. And waited. And not so much as a post card from London came acknowledging the honor.

“No one got any preference for the name the city was given,” said historian Jim Williams on Monday. There’s no documentation that the queen even knew that a city overseas was named for her.

“If you’re the king and queen, there’s all sorts of things that get named after you.”

King George III was a grumpy man, and he fell out of favor with the colonists. A few years later, Lord Cornwallis rode into town with his troops and the Charlotteans ran him off, helping turn the tide of the Revolution in the very town named for the queen.

All’s well that ends well

Naturally, there is a happy ending. Charlotte, the city, grew up to become a fine specimen, sleek and pretty. And while George III never regained his popularity, Queen Charlotte continues to be celebrated.

There is a statue of her at the airport and another on College Street. Paintings of her hang in a museum. There is a parade creature named after her, as is the city’s official groundhog.

And now, a princess too.

“I’m glad they made the right choice,” said Williams, “and named her Charlotte.”

Washburn: 704-358-5007;

Twitter: @WashburnChObs.

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