It's not always the case, but often in the U.S. when soon-to-be parents are picking out a name for their child, they choose a first name, a middle name, and a last name. But in the British royal family, things are different. The new royal baby will likely have more than one name when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry welcome them, and the reason for this is simple: It allows for a bunch of people to be honored at once.
Royalty has been a big deal for centuries and centuries, and members of the royal family have for a long time named new royals after old royals. I mean, what better way to show how royal you are than being named after another famous royal who you are actually related to? This concept ended up being adopted by the upper classes overall, and is seen as a pretty posh thing to do these days.
Obviously, the royal family today might not need to or want to prove how royal they are like people did hundreds of years ago, but now it's tradition. This whole family is all about tradition and exists because of tradition, so they're just keeping on with naming people after other people — at least when it comes to high ranking royals.
Carolyn Harris, the author of Raising Royalty: 1,000 Years of Royal Parenting, told Vogue Australia, "The further down the line of succession, the more likely you are to have a more unique or untraditional name." This explains how, for example, the names Savannah, Isla, Mia, and Lena — all Princess Anne's grandchildren and Queen Elizabeth's great-grandchildren — made their way into the royal family. Also, three of the four only have one middle name. The girls are 15th, 16th, 18th, and 19th in line to the throne, respectively.
That said, a couple of middle names is still common in the family, and with Baby Sussex being seventh in line to the throne at the time of their birth and the grandchild of the future king, it seems likely that they will have three names total. They will be surrounded by other people who have a few names, including Prince William and Kate Middleton's kids, who have names each: George Alexander Louis, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, and Louis Arthur Charles. As for William and Harry, they both have four names, as does their father, Prince Charles. Queen Elizabeth has three: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Interestingly, her sister, Princess Margaret, was only given two names: Margaret Rose.
If they give their child three names, it will give Markle and Harry the chance to honor more of their family members and to potentially also pick a name that is more unique. These two are in a good spot as far as being able to be a little adventurous (the kid will never be the monarch) and keeping up with naming tradition. For instance, they could go with a more modern name, a name from Harry's family, and a name from Markle's family. Ava Elizabeth Jeanette? James Oliver Alvin? (Just throwing those out there, Sussexes. Take 'em or leave 'em.)
It won't be long now until we find out the new baby's name, how long the name is, and who the couple chooses to honor with it. Who knows, though. Maybe they'll switch things up completely and just name the baby Clive.