Why Prince William Will Keep His Name When He Becomes King

In Britain, when a king or queen accedes to the throne, they have a key decision to make — selecting their regnal name. Monarchs can stick with their first name or branch out and pick a new name. For example, back in 2005, there were rumors that then-Prince Charles was contemplating taking George, one of his middle names, when he became king. George allegedly appealed to King Charles since it carried on the legacy of his grandfather and great-grandfather, George VI and George V. Although their regnal names were the same, George V simply used his first name, while George VI went with his third middle name. George VI's first name was Albert, and some sources (via Express) claim Queen Victoria did not want any kings to use the name and overshadow her husband, Prince Albert. On the other hand, George VI may have made his decision to establish a clear line between his father's reign and his own after King Edward VIII's abdication, per CNN

In the end, Charles decided to follow in Queen Elizabeth II's footsteps and use his first name, even though the royal name Charles is cursed with some heavy historical baggage. Now the conversation has turned to what William, Prince of Wales will someday choose as his regnal name. Born William Arthur Philip Louis,  it's possible the prince could go with any of these names when he becomes king. However, there's an ongoing consensus that William will use his first name due to its positive association.

As king, William could continue his legacy under the same name

Speaking on Hello!'s "A Right Royal Podcast," Roya Nikkhah, a Sunday Times royal editor, expressed her certainty that William, Prince of Wales will someday be known as King William V. As evidence, the journalist pointed to his decision to link his name with Prince William's inspiring environmental project, the Earthshot Prize. "When he launched Earthshot he was the Duke of Cambridge, but he called himself Prince William." In addition, explains Nikkhah, "He's keen to be known as Prince William, because the Americans know and love him as Prince William, they love him above all other public figures, according to a recent poll." William's work with Earthshot has given him the opportunity to visit the U.S. twice in two years.

Besides capitalizing on the popularity of name recognition, sources alleged in 2022 that William wanted to be referred to by his first name, instead of his title, in order to cultivate a more personable public image. In addition, William is also pledging to conduct his royal duties in a more hands-on manner. Instead of holding 1,000-plus patronages like his grandparents, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, William is immersing himself in a select group of causes, like combatting homelessness. "I want to actually build the homes, I want to provide them with the mental support, all the employment and the education they might need," William stated during a trip to Singapore in November 2023, per The Telegraph.

William already has the same name as a renowned British monarch

Another reason William, Prince of Wales might choose to keep his name is that it's already fit for a king. According to author Robert Lacey (via People), Princess Diana chose the name William as a tribute to the historic icon William I, aka William the Conqueror. William I is famously associated with his 1066 military victory at the Battle of Hastings, and it's possible that 1,000 years later, in 2066, Prince William could be the reigning monarch. 

King Charles was also thinking about kings of the distant past when he suggested Arthur as his oldest son's first name, after the fabled King Arthur. In addition, the name is also one of Charles' own royal middle names. However, Diana deemed Charles' pick too antiquated for a first name, although she did consent to Arthur for the first of William's three middle names. William's other middle names also have familial connections. Philip, his second middle name, was a nod to his grandfather, Prince Philip, while Louis came from Lord Louis Mountbatten, Charles' great-uncle. 

While it appears likely that William will stick with his first name when he takes the throne, the prince is keeping mum about his final decision. During a 2020 video call with a school (via Town & Country), one of the students referenced William the Conqueror when inquiring about William's future regnal name. The prince, however, diffused the question with a laugh and opted not to answer.