Before anyone knew what his name was, the whole of Britain eagerly awaited the birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. After all, his parents, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex upon marrying, are two of the most popular members of the royal family.
Archie’s birth in May 2019 meant a lot to the royal family and Britain and as a whole. He is the first child of the royals to have biracial ethnic heritage, and the first to be half-American. However, he currently has no official title and will probably never be king, because at the moment he is seventh in line to the throne.
Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess waited two days before announcing the name of their new baby. And needless to say, fans of the royal family were very excited to learn what they’d be calling the new person in their midst. But what does the name “Archie” actually mean? And where did Harry and Meghan get it from?
But before we reveal the reason behind Archie’s name, let’s first examine the tense lead-up to the the royal’s birth. Indeed, there was lots of speculation as to what he would be called. In fact, before May 6 no one knew his gender either, so names of both boys and girls were put forward as options. And from the moment Meghan’s pregnancy was announced in October 2018, bookmakers were offering suggestions.
For their part, the bookmakers offered up mostly traditional names for the royal baby. And good odds were offered on the names James and Henry, which feature strongly in British royal history. Meanwhile, Philip, which is of course the name of Prince Harry’s grandfather and the child’s great-grandfather, was another popular choice.
For a girl there was one name which stood out from the others as a strong possibility: Diana. The odds on that name were reportedly 16/1 on the day of the pregnancy announcement. And the link is obvious – Diana was the name of Prince Harry’s late mother, who tragically died in a car accident in 1997.
Elsewhere, some looked to the other royal children for an idea of what the new baby might be called. Harry’s brother Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, had three kids and gave them all fairly traditional names. Their youngest is Louis, their middle child is Charlotte, and their eldest is George. And the latter, for his part, is third in line to the British throne.
Meanwhile, the names of the Cambridge children were carefully chosen. Prince George for example is one in a long line of royal Georges. Both the Queen’s father and grandfather were King George, VI and V respectively. And if the young George grows up to take the throne of Britain, and keeps his given name instead of choosing a regnal one, he’ll be George VII.
Prince George’s two middle names also pay tribute to the other royals from the family. The first of those is Alexander, which refers to Queen Elizabeth’s middle name of Alexandra. And Prince George’s second middle name is Louis.
The name Louis has been featured a lot among the recent royals. Indeed, it’s the third middle name of William, for a start. It was the name of Prince Philip’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten and of course it’s the first name of Prince William and Kate’s youngest child.
Then there’s Princess Charlotte. She actually has the middle name of Diana, and thus that serves as Prince William’s tribute to his mother. Her other middle name is Elizabeth, which honors the Queen. And the name Charlotte is the feminine version of Charles, the name of William and Harry’s father.
The name of Archie, however, doesn’t seem to honor any particular person, royal or otherwise. There haven’t been any royal Archies before this new one. There have, however, been Archibalds, which is the long form of the name. Alas, most of the historical Archibalds met typical-for-the-time grim fates.
Archibald Douglas – named for his grandfather who was also an Archibald – was the second husband of Margaret Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VII. Unfortunately he had an affair, was tried for treason and eventually got exiled to France. Yet another Archibald, the ninth Earl of Argyll, was beheaded after leading a failed rebellion.
So Archie, the short form version of the name Archibald, is perhaps not a name with a lot of royal wellbeing attached to it. However, Prince Harry and Meghan don’t actually want their son to grow up like a typical royal. Much has been made of the fact that their new baby won’t be given a royal title, even though he could have had a “courtesy title.”
Meanwhile, palace sources have let slip to the media that Prince Harry and Meghan feel a title will be too much of a burden on their child. As it happens, Archie would not have been entitled to a “Royal Highness” anyway, as he’s not the eldest son of an eldest son. He could have been Earl of Dumbarton, but his parents turned it down.
However, that may change when Archie grows up. When the Queen passes away and Prince Charles becomes king, things will be shaken up in the royal family. Then and only then will Archie be allowed to use “His Royal Highness” for himself if he wants to, because he’ll be the grandson of the monarch.
But who knows if Archie will use the title of His Royal Highness? Marlene Koenig told Town and Country in May 2019, “By eschewing the courtesy title of Earl of Dumbarton, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are saying that their children will not be on the royal career path. Without the burden of a title – and no royal role to play – Archie will have a less constrained life, albeit with money and family connections, and with more opportunities outside the royal circle.”
Once Harry and Meghan had considered the business of the titles, they still had to name the baby, and there’s no doubt they put a lot of thought into it. Indeed, commentator Victoria Arbiter told Town and Country in 2018, “Royals… have to consider the great responsibility in naming a new member of the family and I expect they want to be a hundred percent certain of their choice before announcing the name and sealing the baby’s place in history.”
Indeed, Archie’s place in history has already been sealed in multiple ways. As previously mentioned, he’s the first child of a royal to have African-American heritage. In a way, he also represents a new and more diverse royal family, just as his mother Meghan does.
Already, Archie’s parents have indicated they’re taking on a more modern approach to raising their baby. For example, Prince Harry and Meghan didn’t opt for the traditional route of having photos taken with their newborn outside the hospital. Instead, they waited a few days and had a photoshoot done with Archie at Windsor Castle.
And the name “Archie” has struck people as being a very modern choice as well. Meanwhile, an anonymous source offered their thoughts on why Harry and Meghan chose that name, telling Elle magazine in May 2019, “There was no special meaning behind the name; the couple just loved it.”
The name Archie does have lots of history behind it though. It means “bold,” “genuine” or “brave,”according to Elle magazine. And in Greek the name means “ruler,” which is obviously even more fitting, especially since Archie’s great-grandfather Prince Philip has roots in Greece.
Apparently, the name Archie is one of the most popular ones in the U.K. In 2017 it was ranked number 18 on a list of the top names for boys in England and Wales. Now with the birth of the royal baby it could become even more popular, according to the company Ancestry UK.
In fact, this has been the case with a lot of royal baby names. As soon as a moniker is associated with the royals, it jumps in popularity. After William and Harry were born into the royal family, suddenly a lot more Williams and Harrys sprung up across Britain. And after the birth of Princess Charlotte, that name shot thirteen places up the list of most common names for girls.
Interestingly, the name Archie is also a unisex one. Famous Archies include quarterback Archie Manning and boxer Archie Moore. However, it belongs to women too, with the actress from the TV show The Good Wife Archie Panjabi being an example.
Archie also shares his name with famous cartoon character Archie Andrews, currently played by actor KJ Apa on the show Riverdale. Lots of people, including members of the Riverdale cast, couldn’t resist but make jokes. Indeed, actress Kiernan Shipka sent out a picture of herself and Apa on Instagram, captioning it, “Me and the royal baby. Congrats Meghan and Harry!”
In fact, the jokes just kept coming. One user wrote on Twitter, “Someone’s a Riverdale fan. But why pick Archie over Jughead? I think Jughead Mountbatten-Windsor would have been delightful!” Even Netflix Canada, which broadcasts the show, tweeted a reference to the royal baby, writing, “Archie, Earl of Riverdale.”
So Archie was probably not named after the Riverdale character, but there’s a chance he might have been named after a friend of Harry’s. Indeed, when the latter served in the military, his commanding officer was a man called Major Tom Archer-Burton, nicknamed Archie by those who knew him.
An anonymous source talked to The Mirror about it. They told the newspaper in May 2019, “It’s well known in Army circles, and Archie’s inner circle, that baby Archie is a nod to him. The two men have stayed in regular contact, and Archie has met most of Harry’s family, including Meghan. It’s an incredible honor but Archie is an incredibly modest chap, and won’t be making a big deal of it.”
But was there a hint right at the beginning of 2019 about Archie’s first name, something everyone missed? In January that year a royal well-wisher spoke to British tabloid The Sun about running into Prince George while he was walking with his grandmother Carole Middleton. The little boy might have let something slip.
The woman told The Sun, “Just to be friendly, I engaged in a bit of small talk, and I asked George what his name was, even though obviously I knew it. To my astonishment, he said, ‘I’m called Archie,’ with a big smile on his face. I don’t know why he calls himself Archie, but kids often play with their names, and I think it’s lovely.”
Perhaps Prince George had overheard his parents, aunt and uncle discussing baby names? Or perhaps it’s the other way round, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex borrowed the name that their nephew liked to call himself? We may never know for certain, but it’s a great little titbit.
Meanwhile, Archie’s middle name of Harrison drew a little bit of mirth on social media, because it literally translates to “Harry’s son.” And some commentators pointed out that it had a very American flavor to it. Majesty magazine editor Joe Little told the BBC in May 2019, “The first Harrison that springs to mind is Harrison Ford.”
And speaking of Harrison Ford, his Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill had arguably the best joke about the royal baby’s name. He tweeted a picture of himself meeting the princes. The star wrote, “Here’s me with William and Harry pitching the idea of naming any future royal baby after their favorite Star Wars actor. Happy they chose Archie HARRISON Mountbatten-Windsor, but regret not being more specific.”
Furthermore, some people have suggested that Archie got his middle name of Harrison because of Meghan’s love for The Beatles, one member in particular. Meghan’s etiquette teacher Edmund Fry told The Sun, “She has a great fond feeling for George Harrison and that’s where that name came from. She’s a great fan of The Beatles.”
Finally, Archie’s double-barreled last name is interesting. Many had thought he might use the surname Sussex, as his parents are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Indeed, this is often done in royal circles. Prince George, being the son of the Duke of Cambridge, uses simply Cambridge for his surname at school.
However, Mountbatten-Windsor has been the surname of the royal family for a while now. The name was adopted in the 1960s, and it was largely the result of a compromise. The Queen bore the family name of Windsor, but her husband Prince Philip had the name of Mountbatten. Indeed, he he’d adopted it upon coming to Britain.
Prince Philip was reportedly furious that his descendants would never bear his name, only the Windsor one, as the Queen took precedence. And according to The Guardian, Philip reportedly said, “Am I the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his children?” Meanwhile, eventually, the surname was changed.
Before she gave birth to Prince Andrew, the Queen held a meeting to announce that her descendants should use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis don’t have the name because they’re all Royal Highnesses. But Archie is not, so he’s a Mountbatten-Windsor.
So there you have it — Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the newest member of the royal family. But more important than his name is the fact that his parents adore him. Indeed, Harry told the media at Archie’s first photoshoot, “We’re just so thrilled to have our own little bundle of joy.”