Scottish baby named Princess (after three-year fight)

In July of 1986, a baby girl was born to Isle of Skye residents Hugh and Audrey Manwaring-Spencer. She was named Princess Dulcima Rosetta.

So the birth certificate was filled out, the necessary paperwork was sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh, and all was well…until five months later, when Hugh and Audrey received a letter from the GRO:

Based upon an Order in Council of 1910, the name Princess is not a recognized forename in this country because it is part of the Crown’s royal prerogative and cannot be assumed or entered in any register or official document without the consent of the sovereign.

The GRO not only rejected the name, but demanded that the birth certificate be returned.

The parents wrote to Queen Elizabeth instead.

In December of 1987, the queen’s private secretary responded:

You may rest assured that you have caused no offense to the queen and you may continue to use the word as your daughter’s Christian name.

But three weeks later, in a second letter, he flip-flopped:

The name will have to be omitted from the birth certificate. However…there is no objection to you and your family continuing to use the word Princess as the name by which your daughter is known to her friends and family.

And then the GRO sent another birth certificate demand-letter.

Finally, in early 1989, the GRO backed down and decided to accept the name Princess. The Manwaring-Spencer family, including little non-princess Princess, had emerged triumphant.

How common is the name Princess in Scotland nowadays? Not very. Here are some recent numbers:

  • 1 in 2011
  • 7 in 2010 (including Princess-Skye and Princess-Tamia)
  • 2 in 2009
  • 4 in 2008 (including Princess-Vanessa)
  • 2 in 2007

And, while Princess is now permitted in the UK, it’s still verboten elsewhere. For instance, it’s regularly one of the most-rejected baby names in New Zealand.


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