Friday, 24 February 2012

Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, Duchess of Ostrogothia

In a State Council half an hour ago the King of Sweden announced that the name of the newborn princess will be Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary and that she will be Duchess of Ostrogothia.
While speculations had centred on the names of earlier Swedish queens, no-one had foreseen that the choice would be a non-royal French or American name. The only royal connection of the name Estelle is the American Estelle Manville (1904-1984), who in 1928 married Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg, the youngest son of Prince Oscar Bernadotte and thus grandson of King Oscar II of Sweden and of Norway.
Silvia is obviously after her maternal grandmother the Queen of Sweden and Ewa for her paternal grandmother Ewa Westling, while Mary may perhaps indicate that the Crown Princess of Denmark will be among her godparents.
The dukedom of Ostrogothia (Östergötland in Sweden) has been used three times since dukedoms were (re)introduced by Gustaf III in 1772. That year he gave it to his youngest brother, Prince Fredrik Adolf, and it was subsequently given to the future King Oscar II when he was born in 1829. The last holder was Prince Carl Jr, the only son of Prince Carl (and thus grandson of Oscar II), who received the dukedom of Ostrogothia when he was born in 1911, but lost it when he married a commoner in 1937. It is worth noting that the new Duchess of Ostrogothia is the daughter of the Duchess of Westrogothia (Crown Princess Victoria) just like Prince Carl Jr was the son of the previous Duke of Westrogothia.


  1. My thoughts exacly, ie about CP Mary becoming her godmother. What is your take on the name? Personally I would have preferred something traditional like Margaret, Ulrika, Kristina and so forth.

  2. My personal opinion: This princess is to be queen and monarchy is about continuity, thus the name should preferably be an historic one and, even better, one that would give a higher numeral than the First. Thus I would have preferred Christina II, alternatively Margareta II, Ulrika II Eleonora (or simply Ulrika II). In my opinion a Swedish monarch should preferably also have a name with Swedish traditions.

    1. I share your thoughts for the most part. In my case, I would also like to see the treatment of males and females equalized; thus, had the firstborn been a boy, I would have liked to see a name not previously used for a king, given that none of Sweden's queens and queens-to-be have so far been named for one another. Conversely, I would have liked to see Christina II or Ulrika II for a female heir (or Margareta II, but can she truly be considered a Swedish queen?).

      Regardless, it seems quite strange for a child born to be Sweden's future head of state to be given a name that is neither traditional, culturally significant, nor popular in Sweden, or even in the Swedish royal family. I can't think of a comparable case with a European direct heir in recent decades, but perhaps you might think of one I missed?

      I'm skeptical of the idea that Estelle Manville was the main inspiration for the name, even if Crown Princess Victoria met her as a young child; the connection strikes me as too remote. My guess is that it was simply the couple's personal preference first and foremost. Though I have no reason to suspect them of sexist attitudes (quite the contrary), I cannot help but wonder whether they would have made such an unconventional choice had their firstborn been a son.

    2. Margareta Valdemarsdatter is a rather tricky question. She was never officially styled Queen of Sweden (or Queen of Denmark); on the other hand she was Queen of Norway, but only through marriage to King Håkon VI Magnusson. Yet she must be considered a monarch of all three countries. (Actually, the Queen of Denmark addressed this question in two recent interviews, outlining the reasons why she chose to be known as Margrethe II).

      No, I cannot think of any recent similar case of direct heirs to the throne (from birth) being given a foreign name with no royal history. (Obviously there have been no Norwegian, Dutch or Belgian monarchs of the names Ingrid Alexandra, Catharina-Amalia or Elisabeth, but these names still have historical traditions).

      I too find it hard to believe that Crown Princess Victoria has been so close to or such an admirer of Estelle Bernadotte that she would name her daughter for her. Indeed it seems more likely that it is simply because she and her husband like the name (although Estelle Bernadotte would probably be where she first heard the name).

      I too find it very hard to believe that they would have chosen a name with no royal or Swedish traditions if the child had been a boy. Indeed, the more I think of it, the worse I find the choice of names.

      You and I and everyone may name our children whatever we like, but the heir to the throne can quite simply not be named just anything. To name the future Swedish monarch Estelle is directly comparable to if Prince William's firstborn were to become not King George VII, King Edward IX, Queen Elizabeth III or Queen Victoria II, but King Jason I, King Brooklyn I, Queen Chloë I or Queen Abby I simply because the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge happened to like those names.

      Monarchs, unlike presidents, are the living embodiment of their nation's history and their names are supposed to reflect history, continuity and tradition and that they are part of a historical chain, often going back through centuries, which represents the nation's history. This was the reason why the monarch we elected in 1905 took the name Haakon VII. For all we know Oliver or Kjell-Reidar may have been his favourite name, but that did not matter. When one hears a name like Gustaf VI Adolf one instantly realises that he was one of a long line of Swedish monarchs. "Queen Estelle I" has no such immediate connotations. "Christina II" would on the other hand instantly have put her into a historical context.

    3. I agree with your observations, and find your examples spot-on. I suspect that, with a heir of a different gender and nationality, even the English speakers who have taken it upon themselves to declare that Estelle "sounds" perfectly regal to them, and those who claim that judging the crown princessly couple's choice of names is tantamount to casting judgment on the name of any anonymous citizen, would feel differently if Prince William named his firstborn the future King Brooklyn I.

      The decision is even more puzzling when one considers that the couple, had they truly had their hearts set on the name Estelle, could easily have reserved it for a younger daughter or paid tribute to tradition with the official name of the heir while using Estelle as a private calling name among family and friends (a royal "tradiion" in itself).

    4. Yes, they could easily have chosen the solution you suggest. This was what happened in 1906, when Oscar II proposed the name Carl Gustaf for his great-grandson. The parents wanted Edmund (which was at least a Swedish name), but the King objected to this. The compromise was the name Gustaf Adolf Oscar Fredrik Arthur Edmund and that he was always called Edmund in private, but officially known as Prince Gustaf Adolf (and would have reigned as Gustaf VII Adolf - or perhaps just Gustaf VII).

      The next child was then given a non-royal Swedish name: Sigvard. But to this one added Oscar Fredrik, the two names of King Oscar II. Had Sigvard succeeded to the throne - which he would have done had he not married a commoner in 1934 and had his elder brother still not had any son by the time he was killed in 1947 - he could have chosen Oscar III or Fredrik II as his regnal name.

  3. Would the new princess be permitted to adopt a name other than one of her birth names on the day she takes the throne as Queen ?- Is that lawful and proper under Swedish law ?- There must be precedents where that happened.

    Also, is it Eva or Ewa for the newborn princess ?- The official Web page of the Swedish Royal family clearly shows Ewa on the Cabinet announcement. I see that the present page has now changed to Ewa what was Eva at first. Prince Daniel's mother is usually listed as Anna Eva Kristina Westling.

    For readers who are pondering why the baby bears the form Mary rather than Maria : if she is being named for the Crown Princess of Denmark as godmother, who was born Mary Donaldson to Scottish parents in Australia, then the form will indeed be Mary, as that lady has not adopted a naturalised Scandinavian form of her name.

    S. Quinn, Esq. (in Virginia)

  4. Yes, a monarch may choose to reign under another name than the one which he or she has previously been known by, cf. Britain's Prince Albert, Duke of York, who became King George VI (one of his other three names). But in this case I see little point in doing that, as none of the other names are Swedish royal names.

    It is Ewa with a W. I heard the King say the names on radio and thus, without further thought, assumed it was Eva, but having consulted the website I realised that it is spelt Ewa and thus corrected it here.

    1. Interestingly, it seems Prince Daniel's mother calls herself Ewa, but her official name is actually Eva (Anna Kristina Eva Westling).

  5. Rephrasing my question slightly then : Would the Princess Estelle be permitted under Swedish law to take a new name, other than one of her four christened names from birth, if she were to decide when acceding to the throne as Queen Regnant that it was more in keeping with Sweden's traditional Royal nomenclature to reign as Christina, for example ?

    The name George, which you furnished for a precedent, brings up an interesting point : despite Saint George being England's patron, it was not really considered a traditional English name, not for King nor commoner, neither Saxon nor Norman ; and it was not till 1714 that 'George' was imported from Germany when the Hanovers filled the British throne to depose the Stuart line permanently. Whatever the merits or otherwise of the House of Hanover, there is something to be commended, generally speaking, in bringing new names along with new blood.

    If, as seems to be the case, the French name Estelle is being deplored as 'American' here, then it is a curious reaction, to say the least, as applied to descendants of the Marshal of France, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. On the tides of a weary nation's sudden success the people may applaud what was foreign before. Thus, the tyrant Napoleon took his privilege of godfather and bestowed 'Oscar' upon the son of Bernadotte the Palois and Désirée the Marseillaise : by this act Bonaparte was paying tribute to the Celtic hero called Oscar in his most cherished book of spurious verse, Macpherson's 'Poems of Ossian'. I'm sure that was hardly homegrown stuff for the Charleses and Johns up in Stockholm, but we know the Swedes embraced the new dynasty with prodigious feasting (and not a bal masqué).

    En tout cas, many thanks for your knowledgeable interpretations. Traditional forms such as 'Ostrogothia' read very well, I think, as being naturally suited to the idiom of English.

    S. Quinn, Esq.

    1. As far as I know, any Swede may change his or her name if he or she wants to. So the answer is yes, but obviously it would be quite a major deal if the heir/monarch were to do that.

      There are similar Swedish examples to what you mention about the name George in Britain, for instance Fredrik, which came with Friedrich of Hesse-Cassel and Adolf Friedrich of Holstein-Gottorp, and was subsequently used for Prince Fredrik Adolf and as an extra name for several Bernadotte princes, including King Oscar II, whose pen name was Oscar Fredrik. Indeed Oscar is another example.

      The name Estelle is obviously French in origin (from Latin Stella, "star"), but today I think it is mostly known to us Scandinavians as an American name (which obviously also says something about cultural influences).

      Napoléon I was not Oscar Bernadotte's godfather. This is an old and very popular myth (indeed I think Napoléon propagated it himself in the Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène, which is famously unreliable), but it was firmly rejected by Oscar's parent's biographer (and distant relative) Gabriel Girod de l'Ain some fifty years ago. Indeed it seems that Oscar was never christened at all, so obviously he had no godfather, and it seems highly unlikely that Napoléon, who was at that time stuck in Egypt, had any say in the naming of his ex-fiancée's son.

      The name Oscar was indeed unknown in Sweden before the arrival of the Bernadottes, but that this became a royal name was obviously an "accident" as Oscar was not born to be king. It is also worth noting that neither has the name Oscar been given (as the first name) to any direct heir to the throne (Oscar II was the third son, following Carl and Gustaf, and should never have been king unless his nephew and brothers had died).

      I have always liked the Latin forms for the Swedish landscapes/dukedoms (Ostrogothia, Westrogothia, Dalecarlia, Sudermannia etc). Earlier the Latin forms were commonly used in English, but this seems to have become more rare these days.

  6. Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte chose to reign under the name Charles XIV John. Charles was surely none of his baptismal names.


    1. Carl XIV Johan's only baptismal name was, as Fredrik Ulrik Wrangel found out in 1889, "Jean Bernadotte". But that was also the baptismal name of his elder brother. Thus the eldest brother was called Jean-Évangeliste, the younger Jean-Baptiste. This was apparently not uncommon in Navarre at the time. He always signed "J. Bernadotte". But as a revolutionary general he added a Roman name ("Jules"), which was again not uncommon at the time.

      In the Act of Succession of 1810 he is called "Johan Baptist Julius", which is the Swedish version of Jean Baptiste Jules. This was thus his official name during his first months as Crown Prince, and he might have reigned as Johan IV.

      However, when he was adopted by Carl XIII on 2 November 1810 (an act of goodwill which had no constitutional implications) he chose to honour his adoptive father by taking his name, and thus became Carl Johan, dropping Baptist Julius.

      Until then there had been no tradition for foreign-born Swedish heirs to change their names into something more Swedish, which is probably why Oscar's name was not changed into something Swedish. The first foreign-born heir to change his name was Prince Christian August of Augustenburg, who became Carl August when elected crown prince in 1809. But this had purely pragmatic reasons: The name Christian would have been impossible as Christian II is arguably the most hated monarch in Swedish history, remembered as "Christian the Tyrant".

  7. Trond, I agree with you that a potential monarch should have a name relevant to the cultural and/or historical context of the country and/or dynasty. It is one thing when a more distant heir not expected to succeed does so and thereby introduces a new royal name, but this child was born to be queen of Sweden. Manhy people are saying that "as long as the parents like it" it is fine, but that somehow misses the point of royal continuity, especially in a kingdom like Sweden where the monarch's role is entirely representational.

    Of course, I imagine that by the time she succeeds, everyone will have gotten used to the idea of Queen Estelle of Sweden, just as nineteenth century Brits got used to the idea of a Queen Victoria.

    One thing that strikes me as interesting is that you and many others have identified Estelle as an "American" name. It certainly was popular in the USA in the early twentieth century, but I have never met or heard of any American Estelle born after around 1930 (or even that late).

    1. You have understood exactly what I mean. And indeed the Swedish monarchy, whose value is mainly symbolic, should be very careful giving up such symbols voluntarily.

      Given that the Bernadottes generally live to a grand age (Prince Bertil, who would have been 100 on this very day, was by Bernadotte standards fairly young when he died at 84) I expect all of us to be dead by the time Estelle I succeeds to the throne.

      "An American old lady's name" was a term I used in a couple of interviews. Indeed the name is of French origins, but if anyone here in Scandinavia is familiar with it today, it will mostly be because of American women of the pre-1930 generation. Older Swedes (or those with a special interest in royalty) may remember Estelle Bernadotte, who was born in 1904. The first Estelle I could think of was the Seinfeld character Estelle Costanza and it turns out the actress's name is actually Estelle Harris. Then I remembered the actress Estelle Getty, of the same generation, and my sister came up with a character in Friends. There is also an R&B singer Estelle by name of Estelle, but apparently she is British (and fairly young).

  8. Yes, you are talking about branding (in Swedish, märka sina varor). There is nothing wrong with Royal branding, but as a policy it can only look good when done, not out of a fretful sense of retrenchment and mental castellating, but rather from a place of serene confidence, with personal volition attuned adaptably to wise consultation, as in the case of the Royal parents choosing an heir's names. For commentators (as quoted in Aftonbladet last week) to sit outside the Palace and sneer at a baby's christening in attempts to cheapen the onomastically accrued suite of a name which they consider infra dignitatem —or even a threat to the throne's succession— just seems immensely presumptuous and uncouth behaviour, not to say unconscionable and disloyal. It is a begrudging attitude which smacks of misplaced anxiety and of a certain unwarranted snobbery, in fact, and I dare say young Sweden will not support it.

    You may have heard of the actress Estelle Parsons who won an Oscar (of the non-Royal variety) for her rôle as Blanche Barrow in the film 'Bonnie and Clyde' and played opposite Lotte Lenya in several Kurt Weill stage productions ?- Now, yes, she is 'an American and an old lady' (as you may say), for she was born in Massachusetts back in 1927. But it is paradoxical —in light of the present discussion— to consider that her mother (born Elinor Ingebore Mattson) came over from Sweden and gave her the name Estelle.

    As for other Estelles, there are the British actresses Merle Oberon, who was born Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson in 1911, and Estelle Winwood, redoubtable mistress of stage and screen ('Quality Street') who lived to be 101. The current pop singer who is mentioned in these pages was born in London, but she was probably named Estelle because her mother hails from Senegal, a former French colony. Elsewhere in broader Francophony, there are the oft-cited linguist Estelle Liogier in Paris (born in 1969) and the prize-winning French Canadian authoress Estelle Beauchamp ('Un souffle venu de loin' - 2010).

    Must a Swedish subject know of such things ?- In the end, I believe none of these or other 'celebrity' associations with the name can, or should, mean anything. The transformative repurposing of names is a blameless, ancient and noble (if sometimes accidental) endeavour. Taking the long view which any decent historian must, the constant facts in the Bernadotte family context —as being connected with ancient France on the one hand, and with modern Sweden on the other— are that Estelle (< Old French, Estoile < Latin, Stella, 'star') is a sacred emblem and epithet of the Virgin Mary, paragon of Queens, and that within living memory this name has also been borne with immeasurable fortitude by the widow of Folke Bernadotte, who gave his life in service to his country (the Count was assassinated on a mission to Jerusalem in 1948). For any reasonable observer operating with a clear head in the world to-day, these considerations will suffice.

    The newborn Princess's four names, then, carry with them manifold metaphors of an underlying symbolism that may be said (allowing for the relevant historical strictures of Reformed Sweden and Revolutionary France) to connote 1) ESTELLE : honour and reverence towards a modern Countess and the mystical purity of the Queen of Queens, 2) SILVIA : the present Queen Consort of Sweden, 3) EWA : the Prince's mother, as well as Eve the Mother of Us All, and 4) MARY : the aforementioned Stella Maris as paragon among Queens, and the present Crown Princess of Denmark, the former Mary Donaldson, who was born of Scottish parentage with likely nominal reference to Scotland's royalty.

    ESTELLE SILVIA EWA MARY : a name announced, approved and endorsed by the Marshal of the Realm. I heard him say it myself !

    S. Quinn, Esq.

    1. Hmm, if you think it is appropriate to describe those who disagree with your view as "immensely presumptuous", "uncouth", "unconscionable" and "disloyal", I suppose it must also be acceptable to consider your statement pompous and ignorant?

      I do understand that there is a general trend, perhaps particularly among people not living in monarchies, to consider royalty just one sub-category of celebrities. But royalty is about something else and something more. The heir to the throne is the one person who cannot be named just anything. He or she and his or her name will be a national symbol and part of the nation's history. To think Estelle is a good choice of name for a future monarch reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of the symbolic value of a monarchy and indeed of the nature of monarchies. Anyone with an understanding of this will understand that the (distant) French origins of the Bernadotte dynasty is not sufficient reason to give the future Swedish monarch a French name - quite on the contrary a foreign-born dynasty will normally do everything to try and appear as "native" and "national" as possible.

      I fail to see the relevance of the various Estelles you mention, as none of them were members of the Swedish royal house - and that an American actress named Estelle had a Swedish mother does obviously not make the name any more Swedish.

      Two factual points: Folke Bernadotte did not give his life in the service of his country, but in the service of the UN. And it is no more up to the Marshal of the Realm to "approve" or "endorse" the name than it is to the Prime Minister, the Mistress of the Robes, you or me.

  9. With regard to the discussion above (February 24), anent the name George amongst British royalty, in the interests of complete accuracy I wish to report that there were indeed two other Royal Georges — one being the brother of Edward IV and Richard III, to wit, the Duke of Clarence who is drowned in a butt of malmsey wine in Shakespeare's play 'Richard III' — and the other being the Prince of Denmark, ineffectual husband of Queen Anne (or Geordie the Eater and Brandy Nan, as they were lampooned in the broadside ballads of the day).

    The points stands, nonetheless, that until 1714 George was not considered an English Royal name that was recognisably heritable, and the historical record puts three centuries between the reign of Edward IV (d. 1483) and that of Queen Anne (d. 1714, faithless daughter of James II). In between time there did live a Tudor court diplomat named George Boleyn, whose sister Anne became Queen Consort in 1533 ; this arrangement continued but briefly, and ended badly for both, we are told (executed 1536). Another George-at-court (still not Royal, however) was George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who served two Stuart Kings before his assassination in 1628.

    After 1714, with Hanoverian succession secured in three King Georges so named, and especially by the time George Washington's rebellion was seen to have prevailed, the name was going great guns throughout Anglophony ; yet in our time I have never had the impression that anybody has taken the name George very seriously (see George and Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" or any political newsreel of the past thirty years).

    S. Quinn, Esq.(QVINTVS POMPOSVS)

    1. Yes, I am well aware of these earlier Georges in English/British history. However, George is an example of a name which has entered the line of kings by accident. Obviously George I (and indeed also George II) could at the time of his birth not by the furthest stretch of imagination be expected to succeed to the British throne - unlike Princess Estelle, who is born heiress apparent (or, strictly speaking, heiress apparent to the heiress apparent).


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