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The naming of a Danish prince and princess

April 14, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
I've always had a certain interest in European royalty and the history and pageantry surrounding them, but I have no real reason to be interested in the Danish royals.

That is, until now. Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, the former Mary Donaldson, an Australian who spent some time in the United States, came up with the perfect approach to getting public attention. Not only did they have a set of twins, their third and fourth children, on Jan. 8 but they kept the public guessing about the names of the children until they were baptized today.

This is Danish royal tradition. In the past, keeping the names a secret had something to do with hoping evil wouldn't be able to find the baby in those early months if it didn't know the baby's name.

These days, it's more about tradition and the fun of the tease. Even the twins' grandparents and aunts and uncles didn't know their names before the baptism. When a Danish reporter tricked Mary's sister-in-law into acknowledging she was one of the godmothers, it was something of a scandal. Even the godparents were supposed to be secret.

When the babies were finally christened, it was broadcast live on Danish television and on the Internet. So many people logged on to watch the ceremony that all the live feeds went dead. For the Danes, the christening is more exciting than the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Catherine "Kate" Middleton.

The names (drum roll, please): Vincent Frederik Minik Alexander and Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda.

What I find most interesting here are the middle names Minik and Ivalo, both Greenlandic. Greenland is a part of Denmark and the indigenous people who live there have been treated badly in the past, just like the Native Americans were badly treated in the United States. I've met some of the indigenous peoples of Scandinavia during the annual Norsk Hostfest held in Minot.

By giving the new prince and princess names from that culture, the Crown Prince and Princess may be saying a lot of important things: about the importance of Greenland and its culture, about the connection and respect they hope their children will have with Greenland.

Great names for a 21st century prince and princess of Denmark.


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