The obsession with British royalty, and their hats, reached a crescendo this week with the star-studded Diamond Jubilee celebration to honor Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on the throne. But it's not just the hats that fascinate us: An article this week on BabyCenter -- the leading online resource for new and expectant parents -- reveals the remarkable influence the royal family has on British baby names in.Always ready for their close-up!
The data comes from thousands of BabyCenter parents in the United Kingdom who shared their baby names with the online global parenting destination in 2011 and 2012.
So smitten are Brit parents with William, Kate, Elizabeth, and yes, even Pippa, they are bestowing those names on the next generation.
All hail the Queen
Her Royal Majesty's moniker has withstood the test of time. It became popular in the 16th century during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and has held court as a classic ever since. Elizabeth, equal parts feminine and traditional, is expected to increase in popularity by 264 percent in 2012. When not used as a first name, it often serves as a timeless middle name, adding a touch of royalty to either modern or traditional first names.
The Middleton effect
While the world respects a queen, it drools over a princess. When Kate (officially known as Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge) Middleton married Prince William last year, all eyes were on this royal pair. Kate has the looks, the smarts, the photogenic smile -- and a royal name to boot. There are numerous Catherines in royal history, the most obvious being Catherine the Great. Both Catherine and Kate are enjoying remarkable surges in popularity.
But we can't overlook the storm that Kate Middleton's spotlight-stealing sister Pippa, short for Philippa, has created by simply being her lovely self. No one feels sorry for the little sister of the girl who got the prince. Instead, we find her intriguing. And we love her name. We love it so much, we can expect a lot of little Pippas in playgroup next year. Pippa is expected to rise 633 percent in popularity in 2012.
Not-so-hot for Harry
Prince Harry, one of the more charismatic members of the royal family, can't expect to top any name trend charts this year. Harry is on track for a piddly 3 percent increase in popularity in 2012. Harry has been a top 10 name in England for many years already, so we can't feel too sorry for him. Especially since Henry, Prince Harry's given name, is as popular as ever and continues to ascend the baby name lists here and abroad.
The royal why
Whether these traditional names became timeless because they belonged to so many figures of royalty throughout history, or they were chosen by royalty because they seemed timeless, can't be determined.
It's not hard to understand why parents looking for a traditional name love the royal options. Parents rule in the home kingdom (or do they?). But don't our children deserve a name fit for a king - or a queen, a prince, or a princess?
More from BabyCenter
· How popular is your name? Check our Baby Names Finder.
· Looking for name ideas?: Browse our baby name inspiration lists.
· Help parents pick a name: Vote in a name poll
· See BabyCenter's full Special Report on Baby Names