Prince William Surname
Prince William Reuters

Did you know that Prince William, along with his royal title, actually has a last name? Well, he does, and now that the royal baby has been born, will the new little prince adopt the family surname?

William’s official title is Duke of Cambridge, but the public generally refers to him as Prince William. And though we call his wife Kate Middleton, as she was known when she first came into the public eye while dating William before the wedding in 2011, she is officially Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William and his brother, Harry, also often go by William Wales and Harry Wales, respectively, based on their father’s title, Charles Prince of Wales.

And if that’s not confusing enough for us non-royals to understand, it gets even muddier when it comes to the royal baby. Though we do not know the child’s first name yet -- he was born just yesterday afternoon in London -- the newborn prince’s full name could vary. Or he may not have one at all, according to the BBC.

It all depends on what Kate and William decide, but the royal baby could have a few options when it comes to his name. According to the royal family website, members of the British royalty can choose whether to have a surname or simply use the name of the royal house in which they reside.

The couple could decide the baby’s surname will be Wales, as William often goes by William Wales from his father’s house. Option two: The baby could adopt the Cambridge surname, taken from the royal house in which his parents, William and Kate, live. Or, finally, the biggest mouthful of them all, Mountbatten-Windsor, which would make the baby’s full name… His Royal Highness Prince (Name) Mountbatten-Windsor of Cambridge. (Perhaps they should just name him Bob?)

So where does the surname Mountbatten-Windsor come from?

The Windsor portion of the surname comes from Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George V, who selected that surname for the family in 1917 during the first world war. Before that, there was no royal surname and members of the British royal family simply used the name of whatever house they lived in. In 1917, he declared that Windsor, after the castle of the same name, would be used for the future.

When the queen succeeded to the throne in 1952, she confirmed the surname Windsor. She'd married Prince Philip in 1947, and the Mountbatten part of the last name comes from him, the Duke of Edinburgh, who got the name from his maternal grandparents. The queen and the duke decided to distinguish their royal descendants from the rest of the royal family and adopted the full surname of Mountbatten-Windsor. That’s when the Privy Council decided on the surname for all the queen’s children moving forward.

According to the official royal family website, the baby will likely adopt the Mountbatten-Windsor surname, though there is a choice involved. “Unless the Prince of Wales chooses to alter the present decisions when he becomes king, he will continue to be of the House of Windsor and his grandchildren will use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor,” the site said.

So the royal baby, whose first name we await with bated breath, will indeed likely be: His Royal Highness Prince (Name) Mountbatten-Windsor of Cambridge.

I’ll still put my money on Bob.