Beatrice Elizabeth Mary. Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. These are the full baptismal names of Princesses Beatrice, Princess Anne and the Queen respectively. And what use are any of them other than the first one in each case? Today the papers have worked themselves up into a state of mild hysteria over the Cambridges' choice of name for their daughter. Charlotte: fine, one for Prince Charles. But the Elizabeth and especially the Diana bit really got them going - the child's third name merited an entire front page in the Mail. Diana won't be forgotten, says her 'closest friend', Rosa Monckton. Well, fine. But what are the chances that anyone will remember the Diana bit, except when the girl is being baptised, filling in a passport form or getting married?
Extra names are a pain, a tiresome way of making form filling that bit longer, a way for your friends to have a good laugh at your expense if the initials amount to FAT, or the second name is something preposterous. And, as here, they are a graceful way of suggesting you considered your relations when naming your child before then deciding you weren't going actually to name her after them. Charlotte may turn out any number of ways, including Charlie or Lottie, though let's hope she puts her foot down and insists on the full form. But one thing she won't be called is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
It's time to call a halt on this one, before the entire country goes in for it. Just give your child one name and make it something normal, preferably a saint's name. Anything more is just silly. I write as a Melanie, that's it. Suits me just fine.