Britons bet on new royal baby name

Diana is a big favourite among Britons for the name of Harry and Meghan's first baby.
Diana is a big favourite among Britons for the name of Harry and Meghan's first baby.

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, may be keeping plans about their impending baby under wraps, but that hasn't stopped everyone in Britain from trying to guess the gender and the name of their first child.

If Britain's bookmakers are to be believed, it's definitely a girl - and Diana may well be one of her many names.

The William Hill agency closed the betting on the baby's gender a few days ago after an "avalanche" of bets poured in from people convinced the royal couple is having a girl.

"The secret's out, as far as we're concerned," firm spokesman Rupert Adams said. "It could be because someone somewhere has seen the scan, or someone has heard something."

While Adams acknowledged there's always a chance the surge was based on nothing, he said average betting patterns over the years suggest there's usually some truth in rumours.

So far, Diana is topping the bookmakers' list as a front-running name - William Hill has put the odds at 4/1. Victoria, Alice, Grace and Elizabeth are close behind, while Albert, Arthur and James are popular guesses for a boy.

"A ridiculous number - 80 per cent of bets taken - are for the name Diana," Adams said. He said he personally doubts Harry would choose a name that so directly evokes his iconic mother's tragic death in 1997 but added: "There's every chance of it being a middle name."

Carolyn Harris, a royal historian who teaches at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies, agrees that Diana could be a middle name. That's what Harry's brother, Prince William, and his wife Kate did for their daughter, Princess Charlotte (the 3-year-old's full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana).

"The choice of Diana as a first name would place a lot of pressure on the royal baby, as the press would constantly compare her to her famous grandmother," she said.

Harris thinks a possible middle name could be Ruth - after one of Meghan's great-grandmothers, as well as Diana's maternal grandmother, Lady Ruth Fermoy.

Harry and Meghan declared on Thursday they are keeping the birth private and won't be sharing news about the baby's arrival until they've told family and friends.

Whatever name they choose, the new baby will not automatically have the official title of prince or princess.

Instead, Harry and Meghan's baby is expected to be styled the Earl of Dumbarton if a boy and Lady Mountbatten-Windsor if a girl. That said, the Queen could change that if she wants the baby to be a prince or princess.

Harry's first child will be seventh in line for the throne, bumping down Harry's uncle, Prince Andrew.

Australian Associated Press