If you haven’t gone through it before, then you are about to find out how time-consuming and emotionally gut-wrenching selecting the perfect name for your baby can be. After all, when it comes to naming your future little prince, there’s a lot at stake. A name is a lasting legacy for your new heir to the throne. You want to choose something suitable for your baby boy that will be sure to grow alongside of him and that will serve him well throughout his entire life. So, you can’t just pluck a name from the ether and hope for the best!
Royal names are always a great starting point. They have survived centuries of upheaval, challenges, travels and transformations; they are firmly rooted in history and have an impressive back story to boot. If you are willing to cast your net wide and think outside the royal box of names like George, William, Henry, and James (dignified names in their own right), you may be surprised at the whack of unusual yet majestic names available for your choosing.
Read on for 28 unconventional boys’ names that are royal favorites.
Albert has proven itself a popular name with various royals in both Germany and Belgium. Originally the name had been the Germanic Adalbert with elements “adal” meaning “noble” and “beraht” meaning "bright" before it was changed into the simpler Albert.
A favorite for German royalty, the name slowed in popularity by the time the 17th-century rolled around. However, it experienced another burst of fame in the 19th-century by the birth of German-born Prince Albert who eventually went on to become husband to Queen Victoria. In the following century, two kings of Belgium would be bestowed with this imperial moniker as well.
Besides its royal associations, Albert also calls to mind braininess thanks to brilliant bearer Albert Einstein (1879-1955). In case you live under a rock, this is the German physicist famous for creating the theory of relativity.
Before you shrug off Albert as being hopelessly outdated, give it a chance if only due to the super cute nickname Albie. A few more European sounding variants that may tickle your fancy include Aubert (French), Albrecht (German), and Albertus (Dutch).
Based on the ancient German name Adulfuns, Alfonso has experienced myriad highs and lows when it comes to the baby name game. Created from a mishmash of elements over the years including “adal” (noble), “funs” (ready), and “hild” (battle), Alfonso has reigned in Portugal and Spain in terms of royal usage.
On record as a first name in Spain as early as the 7th-century, Alfonso has also adorned six kings in Portugal and various kings in Spain. If you are looking for a more current example of Alfonso in action, look no further than current hit television show AFV hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro. You may better know him for his straight-laced role as Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He is obviously a big fan of his own name too since he and his wife recently passed the regal name down to their own son born in 2015.
If you’re not completely sold on the name, there are a ton of variants including Alfonse, Alonzo, and Alvin. For a girl, there is the sweet-sounding Alfonsa.
This ancient name may have died out completely if it hadn’t gotten new life breathed into it by “England’s Darling”, the 9th-century King of Wessex. Alfred the Great, most renowned for his scholarly ways, as much for the fight he put up against the Danes in Northeastern England, reinstated the name as a popular option thanks to his own fame and popularity.
Comprised of elements “aelf” meaning “elf” and “raed” meaning counsel, the name translates into “wise counselor” as elves were viewed as all-knowing supernatural beings in ancient times. Despite its widespread usage, Alfred faded considerably near the end of the Middle Ages but revived again sometime in the 18th-century.
A couple of other famous Alfreds include the British poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) as well as movie director Alfred Hitchcock who pioneered the psychological thriller and suspense genres of film-making.
Cute nicknames abound including Alfie, Alf or Fred.
This unusual boys’ name is typically pronounced Al-oh-ees and is often considered to be the condensed version of longer name Aloysius (pronounced Al-oh-ish-us). Imported from Germany, Alois translates into “famous warrior” and is the name of current Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein who was born in Zurich in 1968. Prince Alois is the eldest son of the current Prince Hans Adam II. Lichtenstein seems to like the name as it was used quite often to name various royalty throughout the 17 and 1800s although, at that point in time, it was generally spelled Aloys.
Despite being barely a blip on the baby naming radar, Alois is a variant of the more commonly used boy’s name Louis. A couple of other similar sounding boys’ names are Eloi and Eli with nicknames Ali or Louie up for grabs as well. If you are scouring for a female alternative, consider Aloisia (pronounced Al-oh-ish-a), Lois or the much more common Louise.
An extremely famous king goes by this name. The trouble is no one seems to know for sure if King Arthur is real or mythical. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that this imperial classic is yours for the taking if you want it.
If it’s royalty reality that floats your boat then here are a couple of instances of Arthur put to use in real life. One of Queen Victoria’s nine children was Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert. Arthur is also the middle name of both Prince Charles as well as his son Prince William.
Boasting an interesting melange of possible origin stories, Arthur may have come to be thanks to Celtic word “artos” which means “bear”. Perhaps it is derived from the ancient term “art-vrig” which translates into “bear king” or from Old Irish name Artúr or maybe from an ancient family name, Artorius.
Whatever the case, the name may have faded by North American standards but it is still going strong in current Belgian society. Similar-sounding variants include Arturo or Artair and of course there’s the cute nickname Artie.
This Slavic-sounding name has proven popular in certain European countries due to the 11th-century Saint Boris who was also a Russian prince. Boris was also the name of a Bulgarian king, Boris I who was known in the 9th-century for converting his country to Christianity. It is the imperial moniker to two Bulgarian emperors as well as the 16th-century Russian Emperor Boris Godunov, son-in-law of Ivan the Terrible.
Perhaps originating from the Turkish name Bogoris, the name Boris has a variety of meanings including “short”, “wolf”, “snow leopard” and “fighter” so take your pick. It’s not a popular choice among North American parents although it has always been a fan favorite in Europe. Even now, it resides high on the list of top boys’ names in the Netherlands.
If you’re still uncertain, then take a look at Boris in action as a first name over the ages: there’s the current mayor of London, England, Boris Johnson; German-born tennis star, Boris Becker; actor Boris Karloff famous for his 1931 role as Frankenstein’s monster as well as for narrating the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas cartoon; and finally author of Dr. Zhivago, Boris Pasternak.
So, you like the diminutive name Ed but for whatever reason are eschewing more common first names such as Edward and Edwin. Don’t worry about it. There is still Edgar for your consideration. This name has plenty of royal carriers including 10th-century English King, Edgar the Peaceful as well as King Edgar of Scotland. Edgar has another roundabout kingly association thanks to William Shakespeare’s King Lear where the name figures heavily throughout.
Based on ancient name Edgaer, the name is comprised of elements “ead” meaning “prosperity” or “fortune” and “gar” which means “spear”. Literally translated into “spear of prosperity”, the name all but disappeared after the Norman conquest, however, was revived in the 18th-century possibly due to a character named Edgar in Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel The Bride of Lammermoor.
If you’re still not sold, try it out with a couple of varied suffixes such as Edgard or Edgardo.
Another distant cousin to the classic boy’s name Edward, Edmund can get you to the two-letter nickname Ed just as easily but in a unique route. Borne by a 9th-century English king who was killed by invading Danes because he wouldn’t share his Christian kingdom, he was revered as a martyr and the name gained momentum.
Based originally on Old English name Eadmund, its Irish version is Eamon and French form is Edmond. Meaning “fortunate protector”, Edmund hit its high point in popularity in 1914 and has been gathering dust since that time.
Besides its royal ties, Edmund has fared well within the literary world. It can be found in the works of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens.
Just over 33,000 men bear the name within the United States with the majority of Edmunds (per capita) living in the Aloha state. And only 3% of these American Edmunds are under the age of 12 so if unique is your priority, then rest assured that you’ve got it.
Typically pronounced Fay-lee-pay, this boy’s name graces the current King of Spain, Felipe VI who has been reigning since 2014.
Considered a Spanish variant of the anglicized Philip, this name is a strong royal contender in its own right. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II is not only the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch but also the oldest ever male member of the British royal family. He’s 95.
Philip also was the name of the father of Alexander the Great, King Philip the Great. Another example is Prince Carl Philip of Sweden. The names Philip or Felipe have also been put to frequent use over the years in naming various French and Spanish rulers as well as several saints.
Besides traditional nickname Phil, there are also the lesser used Flip or Pip. In terms of feminized versions, you have your choice of Philippa or Filomena.
Despite this boy’s name getting its start within Spanish and Portuguese royalty, it eventually made the leap into the Habsburg royal family and has proven to be an Austrian favorite.
Comprised of a hodge-podge of elements including: “frithu” (peace), “fardi” (journey), “ferchvus” (youth), “nanths” (courage), “nanthi” (venture) and “nand” (prepared), Ferdinand was the name of three Holy Roman emperors, numerous Spanish and Italian kings including 16th-century Ferdinand I.
After infiltrating Austria, there is the example of Archduke Franz Ferdinand who was also the Royal Prince of Hungary (1863-1914). In the present day, it is the name bestowed upon current Archduke of Austria, 19-year-old Ferdinand Zvonimir von Habsburg. Ferdinand is also the name of the young prince in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
A few variants of the name include Fernando and Nando. The Dutch have opted to shorten the full name into the unique yet cute Dinand.
Pronounced Fran-swah, this august boy’s name was the moniker of two kings of France including the 16th-century King Francois who was married to Mary, Queen of Scots. This obviously French name derives from the ancient name Francis as well as the Latin Franciscus which translates into “Frenchman”.
The name also holds some presidential clout thanks to the current president of France, Francois Hollande (in office since 2012) as well as former President of France, Francois Mitterand (in office from 1981-95).
The name skyrocketed in popularity throughout Europe during the 13th-century due to the fame of St. Francis of Assisi who was nicknamed as such because his father was in France at the time of his birth in Italy. Even so, Francois is currently in decline as a North American boy’s name as there are less than 6000 men by that name living in the United States. The majority of them per capita reside in Washington D.C. but even so, there are only 36 there!
Composed of elements “frid” meaning “peace” and “ric” meaning “power”, lots of world royalty have shared in various versions of the boy’s name Frederik. Many rulers within the Holy Roman Empire, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, and Prussia have all found common ground in the name choice.
Specifically, there is 12th-century Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa followed by 13th Century Emperor Frederick II. As well, there is 18th-century Frederick II of Prussia also known as Frederick the Great. More recently, there is the example of Frederik, the current Prince of Denmark.
Historically speaking, Frederik made its way to England sometime during the 11th-century, added a “c” to its spelling but dimmed in popularity before being reintroduced and thriving once again during the 1700s.
Whether you spell it with a “k” or a “ck” combo, the name hangs on the lower end of the popularity scale and would definitely prove to be a one-of-a-kind choice for your son.
Not only is the name Gustav beloved by Swedish royalty but its translation is literally “royal staff” based on the sum of its Norse components. Pronounced Goo-stawf, the name is sometimes spelled with an “f” in lieu of the “v” and is derived from root name Gautstafr or possibly from Slavic name Gostislav.
Gustav got its royal start beginning with Gustav I Vasa, the 16th-century King of Sweden known for his ruthless nature and bad temper. Despite these negative traits, he is often considered to be the founder of modern-day Sweden.
Skimming past a few other royal Swedes who happened to be named Gustav, gets us to Gustav V who took over the throne following the death of his father in 1907. He continued to reign until his own death in 1950 and currently still holds the record of being the oldest monarch of Sweden. Another noteworthy tidbit: Gustav V was the first Swedish king not having an official coronation ceremony which means he never wore a crown. This tradition continues to present day.
This little-known gem of a name comes highly recommended from a variety of Norwegian royalty. Pronounced Haw-koon, the name is also sometimes spelled more efficiently as Hakon and means “chosen son”.
Haakon I of Norway sometimes referred to as Haakon the Good, was king from 934 until 961 and made the attempt to introduce Christianity to his country. Haakon Magnusson was king of Norway at the end of the 2nd-century for a scant two years. Then in 1905, Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel, better known as Prince Carl of Denmark, became king of Norway and took on the title of Haakon VII. He was revered due to the way he lead Norway in its resistance to the Nazi invasion during World War II. On an interesting side note, both his father and brother eventually reigned as Kings of Denmark but not until after Haakon VII was already reigning over the people of Norway.
Currently, 42-year-old Haakon Magnus is Crown Prince of Norway.
This surname which initially came from an English town that no longer exists is in league with Scottish royalty dating back to the 1400s. Lord James Hamilton married Princess Mary - daughter of James III of Scotland in the 15th Century. Eventually, the great-grandson of James II of Scotland would go by the title of Sir Patrick Hamilton of Kincavel.
Originally spelled Hambledon, the name is comprised of elements “hamel” meaning “crooked” and “dun” meaning “hill”. It’s said to mean “treeless hill”.
Besides the royal connection, Hamilton is also the name of a man considered to be one of the U.S.A.’s founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was highly influential in the development of the U.S. government and an avid promoter of the country’s constitution.
Hamilton can easily be abbreviated into Hamil or Milton if either of those names better suits your needs.
It may take a while to wrap your brain around the correct pronunciation of this particular royal name, but it will be worth your while if you like the unique sound as well as the originality of it. While it looks similar to the name Hugh, Hugues is actually pronounced in between “Oog” or “Ug” (sort of like the word “sugar” without the “s” or “ar”).
This regal name was worthy of several ancient kings of France. Hugues le Grand (or Hugh the Great) born in 898 was the son of King Robert I of France. His son was the 10th Century King Hugues Capet, founder of the Capetian dynasty. Due to his popularity, the name became famous and made its way into England where it became anglicized to Hugh.
Hugues also christened two French Crusader kings of Cyprus: 12th-century King Hugues I de Lusignan followed by King Hugues II de Lusignan in 1205.
Sometimes spelled with an "f" replacing the "ph", the name Humphrey means “peaceful warrior” based on its elements “hun” (meaning “warrior” or “bear cub”) and “frid” (meaning “peace”). Upon being introduced into English society sometime during the Middle Ages, it replaced ancient monikers Hunfrith, Hunfrid, and Onfroi.
In the 15th-century, the youngest son of King Henry IV went by the name of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. The name was also used for the 2nd Earl of Buckingham in the 1300s. In the 17th-century, the name Humphrey still enjoyed some stretched ties to royalty although indirectly; Sir Humphrey Gilbert was half-brother to the writer Sir Walter Raleigh. Gilbert was an explorer, soldier and member of parliament whose mother had been the niece of the governess of Queen Elizabeth during the 16th-century.
Humphrey currently seems to have more standing as a surname nowadays although it was the first name of former Hollywood leading man Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957).
Perhaps most memorable as the name of Dr. Frankenstein’s faithful assistant, Igor also proves to have a remarkable history in terms of being a royal choice in Russia. Pronounced Ee-gor or Ee-gawr, Igor is the Russian variant of the name Ingvar which has roots in Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. The Vikings brought the name into Russia sometime during the 10th-century and from there it was borne by two grand princes of Kiev. Igor I was the ruler of Kiev from 914 to 945.
Musically speaking, the name Igor represents as well. There is Russian composer, pianist and conductor Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) to prove it.
While the name is not currently winning any popularity contests in North America, Igor currently sits at #16 of top baby names in Poland and #89 in Portugal. A similar name that is decidedly less harsh to pronounce is the boy’s name Ivor. Feminized versions include Igoria and the simpler Igora.
This fiery name is actually considered a variant of longer name Ignatius. Pronounced as either Inna-go or Een-yee-go, the name may be reminiscent of a famous movie quote: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” from the 1987 movie The Princess Bride.
What you may not realize is the name Inigo has served as a royal moniker throughout ancient Spain as well. There is Inigo Arista who ruled Pamplona during the first half of the 9th-century. It also named various members of Spanish nobility within the 17th-century and was a go-to when naming ancient dukes and lords throughout Spain.
It is thought that Inigo is derived from ancient name Ennecus with the feminized version of the name being Oneca. Variants of the name include Eneko, Inigue, and Indu with hip nickname being Niko. If you like the sound for a girl, consider trying Inez, Inga, India or Inessa.
This Russian version of the vanilla name John is most often pronounced Eye-vun and sometimes as Ee-vun. Running rampant throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, Ivan has many royal associations. It was the name of six Russian rulers including 15th-century Ivan III the Great and 16th-century Ivan IV the Terrible. The latter reigned from 1533 to 1584 and was the first tsar to rule Russia in its entirety. Renowned for being ruthless and insane, he acquired the throne at the age of three when his father died suddenly.
The name Ivan has also been bestowed on nine emperors in Bulgaria as well as Ukrainian nobility. Variants of the name include Yan, Ian, Jovan (pronounced Yovan), Yves and Evan. Female versions abound and include possibilities Eva, Ivana, and Jana.
Meaning “God is gracious”, the name Ivan, despite only being four letters long, can be further shortened into either Ivo or Van.
Hitch your cart to this rising star of a name. Jasper has been climbing the charts in Australia, Canada as well as in the Netherlands so if you like the sound, now is the time for action.
As well, Jasper has received its share of royal treatment. Jasper Tudor was the name of a Duke in England during the 1400s who happened to be half-brother to King Henry VI. Jasper also has a unique royal connection to the bible. Apparently, one of the three kings visiting Christ upon his birth was named Jasper. This little-known fact persists despite the fact that the kings are not officially named within the bible.
Sometimes pronounced Yas-per, German variants of the name include Caspar, Gaspar, and Jesper. Jasper is also the name of a quartz gemstone--one of the only gem names for a boy.
Often considered to be the German or Scandinavian version of Charles, the name Karl has been borne by seven emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, an Austrian emperor as well as several kings of Sweden and Norway.
Despite having lowly beginnings with its translation as “free man” or “peasant”, Karl was elevated to new heights when Karl V reigned as the King of Spain during the 1500s. As well, Karl I of Austria (sometimes known as Blessed Charles of Austria or the King of Hungary) reigned from 1916 until 1919 and was the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The name lends itself to a wide variety of similar monikers including Carlo, Carlos, Kalle, and Caroly. For girls, there is Karly or Karol.
The name reached its pinnacle of popularity in 1963. Currently, there are just over 102,000 Karls living within the United States with Alaska being the state having the most per capita.
The boy’s name Leopold has been in use as a German and Belgian royal name for some time. It graces two Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors as well as three kings of Belgium. The name has been in intermittent usage as a first name in England since the 19th-century most likely to honor Queen Victoria’s uncle who was one of the Belgian kings. In honor of her uncle, Queen Victoria bestowed Leopold on her fourth son, the Duke of Albany.
Leopold was the name of four margraves of Austria from the 900s until the 12th-century. It was also bequeathed upon various Austrian dukes throughout the Babenburg and Habsburg dynasties (1300s-1700s), used by a Bavarian prince as well as several German princes.
Meaning “brave people”, Leopold is thought to have derived from Old German name Liutbalt. It is believed that the spelling was changed in order to incorporate an association to the lion.
Leopold also has literary credentials to its name - it was used by author James Joyce for his main character in his 1920 novel Ulysses.
This Latin name meaning “great” has been borne by seven kings of Norway, three kings of Sweden and a king of Denmark as well as various dukes. Magnus became a popular name in Scandinavia after the reign of 11th-century Norwegian King Magnus I known as Magnus the Good. It is possible he was originally named after Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus in Latin). Although the name Magni is rooted in Norse tradition so it may have originated from there.
There is also a religious element to the name Magnus as it was borne by a 7th-century German Saint as well as several bishops.
Presently, it is still considered a highly popular choice of name in Norway, Denmark and Iceland. In 2004, actor Will Ferrell named his son Magnus, perhaps in part due to his wife’s influence (she has a Swedish background).
Similar sounding boys’ names include Manu, Mogens, Manus, and Mack.
Both royal and presidential, the Russian name Mikhail is considered to be a form of the ubiquitous Michael. Pronounced as either Mik-ail or Mee-kah-eel, Mikhail was the name of two Russian tsars as well as former Soviet Leader, Mikhail Gorbachev who was born in 1931.
Translated as meaning “who is like God”, Mikhail I of Russia reigned from 1613 until 1645. The Grand Duke of Russia, born in 1878, was named Mikhail as well. At the time of his birth, his paternal grandfather, Alexander II of Russia, was still reigning as emperor.
Another notable Mikhail worth mentioning is ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov from the 1970s and 80s.
Variations of the name Mikhail are seemingly endless but include Mihail, Mickey, Miguel, and Mika. Feminine versions are Michelle and Mikhaila to name a couple.
The name may be gaining some mild momentum within the United States. Presently, there are only 13,422 Mikhails within the U.S. and half of them are under the age of 12.
Possibly derived from the Germanic name Nibelungen which means “sons of mist”, Napoleon may also originate from the Italian city name Naples or Napoli. This old Italian name is perhaps most famous for gracing French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) who reigned from 1804 until 1814 and again in 1815.
Translated as meaning “lion of the new city” due to its Greek elements “neapolis” meaning “new city” and “leon” meaning “lion” the name pretty much remains undesirable by most new North American parents. The 2004 release of the hilariously awkward movie Napoleon Dynamite didn’t do all that much to boost the name in the public eye. But as we all know, it only takes a couple of hipsters naming their newborn Napoleon for things to change on a dime.
Currently, there are less than 7000 male residents in the U.S. by the name of Napoleon. The majority of them (per capita) live in Alabama with only 3% being under the age of 12.
This palindromic name is often considered to be the lesser used version of name-cousin Oscar which has experienced a sudden rise in use as of late. The royal associations abound as Otto was the name of four kings of Germany starting with 10th-century Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, better known as Otto the Great. Otto was the name of a Saxon duke in the 800s as well as 19th Century Greek and Bavarian kings.
Meaning “wealthy” or “fortune”, Otto is considered to be the abbreviated name of any German name beginning with the prefix “Aud”. A couple of low-on-the-radar boys’ names that are variants of Otto include Otis and Othello. If you are having a girl, feminized versions include Oda, Odile, Ute, Odelia, and Otillia.
Currently, Otto is a high-ranking boy’s name in Finland. It wouldn’t take much for it to tip the popularity scales in North America either.
You may be aware of the military association of the name Roger as in “Roger that”--terminology meaning everything is “fine” and “understood”. But do you realize the royal connections to the name?
Roger was the name gracing Norman lords: Roger I who conquered Sicily during the 11th-century as well as his son Roger II who was the King of Sicily.
Meaning “famous spear” or “famous warrior”, Roger is derived from Germanic elements “hrod” meaning “fame” and “ger” meaning “spear”. The name was brought to England by the Normans where it replaced the ancient names Hroogar and Hrothgar. It enjoyed a modest level of popularity during the Middle Ages before becoming passé in the 18th-century.
In North America, Roger hit its high in the 1940s but has since lost some of its caché. However, awesome nicknames like Dodge and Hodge may be reason enough for this dated classic to make a full comeback.
Sometimes spelled Rodger, another rugged and manly version of the name is Rutger.