American in Spain

Royal Names in Spanish

April 30, 2011

Royal Seal of Reina IsabelThe Spanish news and gossip media has been aflutter lately with stories about the British royal family. It's reminded me about a really bizarre phenomenon when it comes to names of members of the royal family. For some reason they are translated into their Spanish equivalent. For instance, the current monarch of England is called Reina Isabel. She and her husband, Principe Felipe have a son, Principe Carlos, who is next in line to the throne. Carlos has two sons, Principe Guillermo and Principe Enrique. That sounds so weird. In no other circumstance are names translated like this. We anglophones do this, as well. Good luck asking a Spaniard about monarchs Phillip II, or the famous duo of Ferdinand and Isabella. Their real names were Felipe II, Fernando and Isabel.

No doubt this tradition has very deep roots in power marriages across European kingdoms, but it hits my ears wrong every time I hear the Spanish news media speak of Carlos y Camila and their new daughter-in-law, Catalina Middleton.