The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed a boy on Monday, leaving royal fans abuzz with speculation about the baby name. While traditional choices like Arthur, Albert and James led among bettors, the new parents ultimately deviated from the more expected, Hanoverian route.
“Archie Harrison is really the perfect blend of Harry and Meghan’s cultures,” Nameberry’s Sophie Kihm told HuffPost, noting that “nickname names” are very British.
“Nickname names like Charlie and Freddie top the charts in the U.K., while in the U.S. it’s more common to put Charles or Frederick on the birth certificate,” she explained. “That said, this is unusual for the royals. Harry himself is actually Henry. Naming his son just Archie, rather than an expected full form like Archibald, reflects his intention to buck tradition and modernize the royal family.”
The fact that baby Archie has a single middle name ― rather than two (like Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis) or three (like Prince William and Prince Harry) ― also has more of an American feel, said Kihm.
“The name Archie strikes me as a more casual name for a royal. It doesn’t have a strong historical connection or association that some other names have,” Arianne Chernock, an associate professor of modern British history at Boston University, told HuffPost.
Chernock also believes the name Archie Harrison suggests a dual British and American heritage, given its popularity in the U.K. and its association with the classic American comics series. “I think it speaks to both sides,” the professor said.
The royal baby name news has unleashed a torrent of Archie comics- and “Riverdale”-related jokes on Twitter. Royal watchers have also noted that this may explain why Prince George reportedly said his own name was Archie back in January.
While many were shocked by Harry and Meghan’s nontraditional name choice, Chernock said she was not surprised at all. “They have made a point of advertising that they’re more informal, more modern, more forward-looking, and I think this name reflects that,” she explained.
Harry and Meghan broke from tradition by eschewing a royal title for their child as well. “This indicates that, to the best of their ability, they want to give their son a quote-unquote ‘normal childhood,’ which is something Princess Diana emphasized in her parenting as well,” said Chernock.
The name Archie is relatively unpopular in the U.S. today, having dropped off the Top 1000 list after 1988 (though it peaked at No. 98 back in 1907). In 2017, 156 baby boys were named Archie, a slight rise from 133 in 2016, 146 in 2015, 109 in 2014 and 83 in 2013. The name seems to have bottomed out in 1998, when only 49 baby boys were named Archie.
Famous American Archies include former NFL quarterback Archie Manning (real name Elisha Archibald Manning III) and the fictional sitcom character Archie Bunker. In 2008, actors Amy Poehler and Will Arnett named their first son Archie. The full name Archibald has never ranked in the U.S. Top 1000.
Archie is much more common in the U.K. According to the Office for National Statistics, it was the 18th most popular name for boys in England and Wales in 2017, with 2,803 Archies born that year. In Scotland, Archie ranks at No. 17, and in Northern Ireland, it’s No. 32. Famous Archies across the pond include “Good Wife” actress Archie Punjabi (real name Archana) and former footballer Archie Gemmill.
“I would have preferred that they had given him a formal name like Archer or Archibald, but it’s a cute English name,” Jennifer Moss, founder and CEO of BabyNames.com, told HuffPost. “Harrison is super popular in the U.S., has been for about 10 years,” she said, noting a “big trend of using English surnames as given names for boys.”
Moss also noted that Harrison quite literally means “son of Harry.” Kihm said she believes Harrison was “a clever and similarly modern choice” of middle name for baby Archie.
“Names with the -son suffix are hot right now, especially in the U.S. British parents are catching up and embracing some of these names, particularly Harrison, Mason, Jenson and Jackson, but Harrison is more in line with the current American naming style than the British.”
Indeed, Harrison ranks No. 113 on the U.S. popularity list. In 2017, 3,499 baby boys were named Harrison. The experts at Nameberry see Harrison as “one to watch” on the charts going forward.
“It’s already a well-liked name in America, but now that Harry and Meghan have used it, it has even more style cred,” said Kihm. “Particularly since they used it as a middle name, while Archie may become very tied to Baby Sussex, which would deter parents from using it.”
Ultimately, Archie Harrison is a unique choice for royals. “This name allows the child to create his own history,” Chernock said. “He’s not really named, at least not obviously, after any one person or people in particular. So he gets to invent his own story.”