Guess what the British prince has been named? “Don’t tell me they’ve gone with George!” said my son, Gautam.
Ever since his birth on 22nd July 2013, the television channels had been screaming out that “George” was the front runner among the bookmakers, followed by James, Alexander, Henry, Arthur, Albert and other traditionally royal names. The parents, William and Kate, decided on George Alexander Louis, so it looks like he’ll be referred to as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.
According to the website Behind the Name,
George is from the Greek name Georgios (Γεωργιος) which was derived from the Greek word georgos (γεωργος) meaning “farmer, earth worker”, itself derived from the elements ge (γη) “earth” and ergon (εργον) “work”.
Saint George was a 3rd-century Roman soldier from Palestine who was martyred during the persecutions of emperor Diocletian. Later legends describe his defeat of a dragon, with which he was often depicted in medieval art. Initially Saint George was primarily revered by Eastern Christians, but returning crusaders brought stories of him to Western Europe and he became the patron of England, Portugal, Catalonia and Aragon.
The name was rarely used in England until the German-born George I came to the British throne in the 18th century. Five subsequent British kings have borne the name. (So if this prince becomes king, he could choose to be called George VII.)
Other famous bearers include two kings of Greece, the composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), the first president of the United States, George Washington (1732-1797), and the Pacific explorer George Vancouver (1757-1798). This was also the pen name of authors George Eliot (1819-1880) and George Orwell (1903-1950), real names Mary Anne Evans and Eric Arthur Blair respectively.
Well, if you are wondering what this has to do with Gautam, George is one of the names he’s called at home. And how?
When Gautam was little, he was quite a pudding, so his grandmother used to call him Pudding Boy. When we talk of a pudding boy, Georgie Porgie is top of mind. The rhyme, supposedly from the days of writer George Bernard Shaw, goes like this:
Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.
Some time after Gautam was born, my husband had made an official trip to the USA and returned with, among other things, a set of “Curious George” clothes.
Curious George is a lovably mischievous monkey, in a series of children’s books by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey.
The first short story Rafi et les neuf singes (Ceciyl G. and the Nine Monkeys) was published in France in 1939. In the French story, Rafi is a giraffe and the monkey is Fifi while in the USA English translation, the giraffe is called Cecily and the monkey is called Curious George. In the UK publication of 1942, the monkey is called Zozo, instead of George, supposedly because the reigning monarch was King George VI. George VI unexpectedly became monarch in 1936, when his brother Edward abdicated the throne to marry Mrs Simpson.
The first Curious George book “Curious George” was published in 1941, in New York by American publisher Houghton Mifflin. In this book George is living in Africa and he gets captured by “the Man with the Yellow Hat”, who takes him on a ship to “the big city” to live in the zoo.
Many other Curious George books followed. Curious George is also featured on television, in movies, video games, merchandise and has its own website.
So Pudding Boy Gautam became Georgie and subsequently George (as lovably mischievous as Curious George). He still responds to these names today! Needless to mention, he is indeed Prince George in our home!