In an extraordinary Council of State at Stockholm Palace yesterday, 24 February 2012, HM King Carl Gustaf announced that the newborn daughter of HRH Crown Princess Victoria and HRH Prince Daniel, had got the names Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, that her call name was Estelle and that the king had bestowed on her the dukedom of Östergötland (Ostrogothia).
Most people, whether «experts» on royalty or not, were certainly taken by surprise by the choice of call name. Most of us expected a traditional royal name like Christina, Ulrika, Sofia or Margareta, not a name of French origin never used in the royal family before. Yes, the American-born wife of Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg, Estelle Romaine Manville (1904–1984), bore that name, and so do two of her grandchildren (Countess Maria Estelle Bernadotte of Wisborg, b. 1962, and Countess Astrid Désirée Estelle Bernadotte af Wisborg, b. 1987) as well as one of her great grandchildren (Countess Astrid Ruth Estelle Bernadotte af Wisborg, b. 1999), but they belonged or belong to the Bernadotte family, not the royal family. Did Crown Princess Victoria ever meet Countess Estelle? Not that it really matters. I gather that the Crown Princess couple first of all chose the name because they liked it and not because they wanted to name their daughter after a distant in-law.
The second and third name, Silvia and Ewa, after the princess' grandmothers, Queen Silvia and Anna Kristina Eva (*) Westling, were more predictable. When the princess was born on Thursday 23 February, I initiated at the Scandinavian Royals Message Board a name-guessing competition where one would get 5 points if one guessed the right call name, 3 points if one managed to put the other names in the right position and 1 point for each correctly guessed name but not put in the right position. Obviously no-one came up with Estelle, but quite a few suggested Silvia and Eva/Ewa. Funnily enough only two people – and I was one of them – managed to put the names Silvia and Ewa in the right position and thereby won the competition by scoring 6 points. Not sure where the Crown Princess couple got Mary (why not Maria?) from, I cannot find it in Prince Daniel's ancestry table, but it might indicate that Crown Princess Mary of Denmark will be one of Princess Estelle's sponsors at the christening.
I was certainly one of the many who would have preferred a more traditional royal name for the newborn princess, or at least a name with Swedish/Norse roots. For what is the monarchy about if not traditions? Now, I am not saying that all old traditions should be kept just for the sake of it - the witness declaration (confirmation) is a tradition which I view as rather empty and meaningless and could easily be dropped. But royal names, especially names for people in the direct line – Princess Estelle is the heir's heir and will one day inherit the Swedish throne – symbolize continuity, the long line of monarchs, and unite the past with the present and the future. Of course it was up to the parents to decide. And it is certainly nothing «wrong» with the name Estelle as such, even if it is not a traditional royal name, and we will get easily used to it. Some of the reactions after the name was announced were rather hilarious. It is nice that people care so much about royal names and royal traditions, though.
I read some funny comments on Twitter yesterday. Several people recalled that Joey Trabbiani in the sitcom «Friends», had an incompetent agent with the name Estelle. Not to forget George Constanza's mother Estelle in «Seinfeld». And the actress playing the character «Sophia» in «The Golden Girls» was Estelle Getty... I am of course not suggesting that Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel picked the name from a sitcom, though, just adding some humour into it. It seems needed after some of the reactions to the name!
(*) For some reason the Royal Court uses the spelling «Ewa» for Prince Daniel's mother, and maybe that is her own preference. It should be added, though, that she is officially registered as Anna Kristina Eva Westling, i.e. with a «v», not «w», cf. Ratiset.se.
Postscript 26 February 2012 at 09.00
It seems that the Countess Estelle Bernadotte af Wisborg connection was not so far-fetched as I had originally thought. The Swedish daily Aftonbladet published an article on Saturday 25 February where we are told that Crown Princess Victoria has loved the name Estelle since she was a little girl and that the countess was an important woman to King Carl Gustaf. Estelle's husband Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg was one of Carl Gustaf's sponsors («godparents») and he was a good friend to have after the king's father Prince Gustaf Adolf died in 1947. The king's mother Princess Sibylla and Countess Estelle remained close friends after the count was killed in 1948. According to royal expert Roger Lundgren Crown Princess Victoria also met Countess Estelle a few times before the countess died in 1984. Crown Princess Victoria is also close to Count Folke and Countess Estelle's son Bertil (b. 1935). Another son, the younger Count Folke, b. 1931, was very touched when he heard about the name choice, cf. VG.no's reproduction of Aftonbladet's article.
Sources for the postscript: VG.no 25 February 2012 and various comments made by Roger Lundgren at the Scandinavian Royals Message Board 25-26 February 2012.
Updated on Sunday 26 February 2012 at 09.00 (postscript and information about Countess Maria Estelle Bernadotte af Wisborg in the main article added), Friday 2 March 2012 at 16.40 (postscript corrected, cf. the comments section) and last time on Saturday 3 March 2012 at 09.00 (yet another Estelle example added).