People Staff
September 05, 1988 12:00 PM

The controversy is raging across England. After two weeks of waiting, Fergie and Andy finally gave their daughter a name, Beatrice Elizabeth Mary, and the question on every set of British lips is: Why? Briefly in vogue during the last century, Beatrice has long since gone out of fashion as an appellation. “Until today, I would not have expected to find anyone of that name under the age of 50 or 60,” said David Williamson, co-editor of Debrett’s Peerage. “But I imagine there will soon be hundreds of little Beatrices.” Many Britons, of course, fancy the name. “I think it’s absolutely enchanting,” said one elderly woman, interviewed while buying milk in a shop. “It reminds me of Beatrix Potter.” But other members of the public are voicing disapproval, calling the name ugly and archaic. Besides, Princess Beatrice of York might find herself heir to some ungainly nicknames. The royal family is notorious for its in-house monikers(Fergie is known as Ginger Bush), and the possibilities being bandied about for the Ferglet include Queen Bea, Beatty, Bobo and Trixie.

Latin for “blessed” or “bringer of joy,” the name Beatrice has received mixed reviews through the ages. Shakespeare described the heroine of his Much Ado About Nothing in these terms: “Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes.” Dante’s Beatrice, the female lead in The Divine Comedy, was a charmer of gentler kind. However, it’s likely that the inspiration for the little Yorkie’s name came not from the literary world, but the insect world. The motif running through Fergie’s personal coat-of-arms shows a bee sucking nectar from a thistle. “The bee has always been her favorite creature,” said Harold Brooks-Baker, publishing director of Burke’s Peerage Ltd., “so it is quite possible the duchess decided long ago that if she had a girl, she would be called Beatrice.”

If that’s true, the U.K. wants to know, then why did the parents take so long to announce the name? Here, informed sources speculate, Andy might be the culprit. A keen amateur photographer, the duke wanted to release his own baby snaps to coincide with the announcement. “But after shooting up in Scotland [at Balmoral, the royal summer estate], the photos all had to come down to London to be processed,” says one palace insider. “Then they had to be sent back up to Scotland for selection by the Queen and the parents, and this slowed things down.” The photo session was held in a drawing room at Balmoral and lasted about 90 minutes. Beatrice was asleep most of the time, and Dad and Mum took long pauses between each picture, waiting for the baby to open her eyes. For the edification of photo buffs, Andy used a motorized Hasselblad ELM camera with a 150-mm. lens, strobe lighting and, in the case of the photo at left, a delayed-action timer.

And so it came to pass that the baby’s portraits and name were simultaneously released to the world last week. Some may quibble with the choice of Beatrice, but as one London newspaper noted, “That’s certainly an improvement on ‘Hello, Wotsaname.’ ”

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