When it comes to choosing baby names, the royal family is pretty predictable. Protocol dictates that the Windsors stick to traditional names, often ones that are already in the family. This is particularly true of those in the direct line of succession, who may one day be crowned king or queen, hence Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry (Henry), who are all named for their ancestors.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continued this theme when they chose to name their eldest born George, while Charlotte is named after her grandfather, Prince Charles. So it is fair to assume that the next in line to the throne, the couple’s third child due in April, will also have a classic name.
Yet while bookmakers are currently predicting that the couple might choose Albert or Alice, there is one royal predecessor who probably won’t be namechecked: King John. That’s because during his 19-year rule he caused enough trouble to become one of the most infamous and hated monarchs in history.
Born in 1166 as the second son of King Henry II and the younger brother of the aforementioned King Richard I, he attempted an unsuccessful coup while the Lionheart was fighting in the Crusades, yet was somehow forgiven for his treachery and allowed to live. When Richard died from a war wound, John ascended to the throne.
Today he is mostly remembered for his terrible treatment of the poor, increasing their taxes excessively during his reign to finance a war with France, as well as his poor military knowledge and ineptitude in battle. You might also recognise him from popular culture as the chief villain of Robin Hood.
John is far from the only misguided character in British regal history: Richard III is infamous for murdering his two nephews, the Princes in the Tower, while Prince Charles’ forbear Charles I hardly fared much better thanks to losing the Civil War, so there’s always a chance all will be forgiven and George and Charlotte’s new sibling could be called John after all…