Names chosen by Flemish politicians

Today is election day in Belgium and while people were heading to polling stations I’ve been looking into the names that Flanders’ (the Dutch speaking region of Belgium) most known politicians have chosen for their children.

Herman de Croo and his wife Françoise Desguin have a son named ALEXANDER (1975) and a daughter named ARIANE. Alexander is a well-known politician as well and he has two sons of his own named TOBIAS (2008) and GABRIËL (2011). After Gabriël was born, Alexander explained that he and his wife Annik decided on the name while they were on their way to the hospital. As his wife was due two weeks later, they thought they still had some time to make a decision. Gabriël was one of the names on their list and they just thought it was a beautiful name that’s being used in many languages and means ‘power of God’.

On the same day Gabriël de Croo was born, politician Wouter Beke’s wife Leen Desmyter gave birth to the couple’s third child MINE (2011). She joined older brother WARRE (2004) and sister NETTE (2011). 

Filip Dewinter and his wife Lutgarde have three grown-up daughters named KAROLIEN (1989), AN-SOFIE (1991) and VERONIEK (1994). His extreme-right wing party member Anke Van dermeersch also chose typically Flemish names for her daughter SILKE (2005) and her son STEF (2008). The late Marie-Rose Morel, who used to belong to the same party for a while, named her sons ALEXANDER (2004) and MARNIX (2006).

Bart De Wever and his wife Veerle Hegge also picked typically Flemish names for their children. In 2007 LIESBET (Flemish variant of Elisabeth) joined older siblings HENDRIK (Flemish variant of Henry), KATRIEN (Flemish variant of Katherine) and SIMON.


Bart De Wever with his wife and children on their wedding day a few years ago.

Bart De Wever’s direct competitor for the position of mayor of Antwerp, the largest city in the Flanders region of Belgium, is Patrick Janssens. He has two adult sons named IBEN and JENTEN from his first marriage and two sons – WILLEM FREDERIK (2011) and KAREL JAN (2012) – with current wife Sabine Steels.

A few decades ago the name Karel was also chosen by another politician, namely Geert Bourgeois. KAREL Bourgeois has one brother named PIETER. Around that time Leona Detiège also became a mother to daughter MAYA, who became a politician in her own right and has two daughters named TINE and MERET.

In the 1960s and early 1970s former Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene and Celie became parents to daughters MIEKE and HILDE as well as sons TOM and KOEN. In the 1980s Karel De Gucht and his wife Mireille Schreurs welcomed their sons JEAN-JACQUES (1983) and FREDERIC.

Pieter De Crem and his wife Caroline Bergez chose names with royal flair for their children when they named their son CONSTANTIJN and their daughters ALICIA and VICTORIA.

Eva Brems has two sons named NATHAN and RUBEN, and Ingrid Lieten has two boys named PIM and MATS. Freya Van den Bossche has a son named MOSES (2009) as well as two daughters named ARIANE (1999) and BILLIE (2005).

Former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has a son named LOUIS (1993) and a daughter named CHARLOTTE (1990). The name CHARLOTTE was also chosen by Frank Vanhecke and Ria Roose for their daughter. She has a brother named EWOUT (1985) and a sister named EMMA (1991). Around the same time Yves Leterme and Sofie Haesen welcomed their sons MATTHIAS and THOMAS and their daughter JULIE.

In late 2005 it was announced that Sophie Pécriaux was expecting and that fellow politician Rik Daems was the father. Their daughter SASHA (2006) joined an older half sister named ANDREA, Rik’s daughter from his previous marriage.

So far my list of names that Flemish politicians chose for their children. If you have any additions, feel free to leave them in a comment and I’ll add them later on.

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FILM – ‘North by Northwest’ (1959) by Alfred Hitchcock


North by Northwest is a three times Oscar nominated thriller from 1959, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint (pictured).

The main character of this movie is a twice-divorced, charming Madison Avenue advertising executive in his forties, called Roger O. Thornhill. The O. in his name doesn’t stand for anything, according to the character himself. After being mistaken for a Secret Service agent named George Kaplan, Roger is kidnapped by Leonard and Valerian, who both work for the American mobster Philip Vandamm. The latter is a man in his forties who at first sight seems to be an illegal art dealer, but who actually smuggles microforms abroad with secret information. While he tries to get information from Roger, still believing that it’s George Kaplan, he pretends to be Lester Townsend, a balding widower in his fifties who works for the United Nations in New York. When Roger, who still has no clue what it’s all about, refuses to co-operate Philip, Leonard and Valerian try to kill him. On the run from his attackers, Roger meets the beautiful Eve Kendall on a train to Chicago. Eve is a 26-year-old unmarried woman who tells Roger she works as an industrial designer, but secretly she’s a government agent.

Aside from these characters there are also Roger’s forty-something secretary Maggie and his mother Clara, a rich, elderly lady who enjoys spending her afternoons playing Bridge with her friends. When Roger gets in trouble, he calls in help from his lawyer, Victor Larrabee, and when he tries to get information about George Kaplan in the hotel where he was supposedly staying, he gets help from Elsie, a thirty-something hotel maid.

Would you consider using any of these names? Valerian definitely seems to be the most original name from this movie, but I also really like Eve and Elsie.

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“I Play the Drums in a Band Called ‘okay'” (2008) by Toby Litt

Four years ago British author Toby Litt published his ninth novel, “I Play the Drums in a Band Called okay“, and in this book he used quite a few creative names for his characters. The story revolves around a Canadian rockband consisting of four guys who use the stage names Syph, Crab, Clap and Mono. Oh, yes! Syph, whose birth name is Steve, is a charismatic womanizer who’s obsessed with doing drugs. Guitarist Crab was born in 1965 and has been an alcoholic throughout his entire music career. He eventually dies when he is being struck by lightning. During his short and intense life, he refused to live according to the moral rules of society and always did his own thing. The drummer of the band, Clap, was born in 1966 and his real name is Brian. Bassist Mono was born in 1965 and likes to spend his spare time outdoors fishing. Later in life he becomes an environmentalist.

Obviously, you can’t have a rockband without a fan club and a website. For the band okay, Japanese fan Yoyo is the webmaster of the fan club website. In South Africa, the local contact person of the band’s record company is a young woman named Dorothy. She has very dark skin and snow white teeth. Unfortunately, when she graciously gives a man a ride, he rapes her and infects her with the HIV virus. Otis Wallace-Benjamin is an American teenage boy and a big fan of okay. He has a sister named Caroline, who later in life becomes a sound technician for a Canadian rock band. After he commits suicide at age fourteen while listening to one of okay‘s songs, his parents Aaron and Jean want to have a talk with the band members. Jean has one brother named Chester, a nice American man who successfully runs a business that specializes in the maintenance of golf carts.

When it comes to significant others, lead singer Syph sticks to groupies like Celia and Forest. While Celia becomes hysterical when Syph almost overdoses in her presence, Forest is the daughter of Californian hippies who does drugs as well to escape from her troubled past. Her mantra is: ‘I will follow my heart, wherever it may lead me.’

Bassist Mono ends up in a relationship with Major, a woman who is being described as ‘the Amazon type’. She looks like an Olympic swimmer, specialized in the butterfly stroke. Major was born in Alaska, but stems from the natives of Canada. She very much enjoys the peace and quiet of nature and later in life becomes an environmental activist.

Drummer Clap marries Esther, a Canadian woman in her thirties who works at the pediatrics department of a hospital in Vancouver. Her specialties are autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and conduct disorders. She has short, thick, black hair and is definitely the strong woman behind her famous husband. They have twin daughters named Sarah and Grace. Esther’s mother, Joyce, is a classy, middle-aged Canadian woman with gray hair and a collectedness that resembles that of women with enough money in their bank account to start an antiques collection. Joyce’s best friend, Betty, supported her after her husband died and did everything she could to help her friend through these difficult times. Unfortunately, later on Betty herself dies of breast cancer.

In this novel Toby Litt also introduces his readers to another famiy: Dad Craigie is a Caucasian surfer with dreadlocks. After having become the father of a little baby boy, nicknamed Boo, he managed to become an exhibition surfer, but hated the commercialization of his art. However, he’d earned enough to set himself up as a board designer and manufacturer. After building the business up to the third biggest in Hawaii, he sold it off. Currently, he is fronting a surf-forecasting website and learning high-end yoga. Mom Jenny is a young, Scottish woman of about eighteen years old with bright blue fingernails. Later on in life she became a successful novelist.

And finally there are some minor characters with sometimes pretty stereotypical descriptions: Irina, for instance, is a Russian drug dealer who kidnaps the lead singer of the band okay and demands ransom. Later on it turns out she worked for Russian secret services. She is being described as a short, muscled woman with a ruffled, mousy brown bob haircut and shiny, black boots. Inge is a very down-to-earth young woman from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She is slim, has short, light blonde hair and blue eyes. Mike is a Canadian know-it-all with braces and acne, who finds out that he has a terminal illness at age fifteen. Lindsay is an unattractive Canadian woman who wears thick glasses and has thick, brown hair. After having worked at a library for years, she eventually publishes her own bundle of poetry. Katie Proudhon, on the other hand, was the prettiest girl in her Canadian high school. In these days, her name was inevitably transformed into Catty Proudhorn. After high school she had a brief career as a model, but after that she led a quite uneventful life. Another model in this novel is Barbra: she’s a lingerie model who is cosntantly complaining about how hard her life is as a model. She is named after singer Barbra Streisand, but the tabloids usually call her Brabra or Baps. Barbra eventually decides to retire from modeling at age 25. The final character from “I Play the Drums in a Band Called okay” is Lydia. She’s a young woman who works in art administration and she’s being described as quite shy, but attractive.

“I Play the Drums in a Band Called ‘okay'” (2008) by Toby Litt

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Robbie and Ayda need help!


You may or may not have heard about this, but British singer Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Field are expecting their first child together! Two days ago Robbie posted on his website that they don’t know the sex of the baby yet and more importantly… that they don’t have any names yet either! That inspired me to do some brainstorming about a possible name. Feel free to chime in ;-).

Last week rumor had it that they were considering the names Roberta, Alice and Genevieve if the baby would be a girl. Though I do like Alice, I’m not a big fan of Genevieve and Roberta. Robin would be cute, though, if they wanted to follow in Will Smith and Jada Pinkett’s footsteps (their children are Jaden and Willow, in case you didn’t know). But… I think one Robin Williams per planet would be quite sufficient ;-). Ayden/Aydan, or the more common Aiden/Aidan would be very cute for a boy! I have no idea what Ayda’s personality is like, but considering the fact that Robbie is rather extravagant, I wouldn’t be surprised if they named the baby Rayden if it’s a boy.

Other possible names could be:

ADELE – A name that has become increasingly popular over the past few years, mainly because of the British singer Adele. And if the rumor about Alice/Genevieve/Roberta is by any chance true, this name would fit into the list perfectly.

ANGEL – Robbie’s most famous (and breakthrough) song is called ‘Angels’ and he currently lives in Los Angeles, where he also met Ayda.

JONATHAN – I think they might pick this one as a middle name, as Robbie’s best friend for years and best man at his wedding to Ayda, is fellow Brit Jonathan Wilkes.

LONDON – Would be a nice way to honor Robbie’s native Britain. And can be used for a boy and a girl.

TRENT – Robbie comes from a town called Stoke-On-Trent, so this might be a nice wink to his hometown. And a nice and normal name for a baby. I really hope they don’t name the baby Stoke, though ;-).

TURK – Well, Ayda’s father is Turkish, and as I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t name their child Turkey (too much confusion with the animal, or the country for that matter), Turk might be a nice solution. American wrestler Brock Lesnar also has a son named Turk, by the way.

VALE – Named after Robbie’s favorite local British soccer team, of which he is also the major shareholder. Robbie also has a restaurant at Vale Park named in his honor.

Names that they probably won’t choose are Daniel, Emily, Daisy, Elwood and Willow, as those are the names of the children of Robbie’s former Take That bandmembers Gary Barlow and Mark Owen.

What name do you think they might pick?


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A girl named Pete

Over the past decade it has become increasingly popular in Hollywood to give a daughter a typical boys’ name. Usually a more feminine name is added as a middle name though, to make the masculine first name sound less harsh. To this category we can add Brendan Fehr and Kelsey Grammer whose respective daughters James and Mason both have Olivia as a middle name. Kelsey seems to really like boys’ names on girls, as his oldest daughter is named Spencer. Melissa Etheridge has a daughter named Johnnie Rose and Jon Heder has a daughter named Evan Jane. Though it was never officially confirmed, Jason Lee‘s daughter Casper’s middle name is said to be Alice and similarly, American baseball player Jonathan Papelbon has a daughter named Parker Alice. American singers Cass Elliott and Michelle Branch both have daughters named Owen. In 1967, Cass gave birth to daughter Owen Vanessa and almost forty years later Michelle gave birth to daughter Owen Isabelle.

While the addition of a more feminine middle name occurs frequently, there are still some celebrities who give their daughters nothing but a masculine first name. Elizabeth Daily, for instance, has two daughters named Hunter and Tyson. And British guitarist Guy Berryman and British actress Thandie Newton both have daughters named Nico. American actress Diane Keaton, on the other hand, didn’t think one masculine name would be enough, so she decided to add the middle name Dean to her daughter’s first name Dexter.

But this ‘boys’ name for a daughter’-trend has never really surfaced in the Netherlands, until this year. In May, Dutch singer Jan Rot and his wife Daan welcomed a daughter named Maantje Piet. This name can literally be translated into English as ‘Little Moon Pete’. But as Maantje’s brother Rover has a feminine middle name (Maria), I assume that it was a reference to a close relative or friend.

A few months later, however, Dutch actress Caro Lenssen and her husband Chris van Oers welcomed a daughter named… you guessed it… PIET! According to the Meertens Instituut, the name Piet occurred less than 5 times in the entire female population in the Netherlands in 2010. So it’s safe to say that it’s rather uncommon to give your daughter this name that is currently often being associated with older men. Aside from the fact that it’s a typical boys’ name in Dutch (as is the English variant Pete), ‘Piet’ also has some other connotations that a little girl or young woman named Piet might not be too happy about. Firstly there’s a link to Sinterklaas’s helpers, the Zwarte Pieten (literally ‘Black Petes’), a cultural phenomenon in the Netherlands and Belgium. Every year in December, Sinterklaas travels from Spain to hand out presents to little children, provided they have been good the past year. And the Zwarte Pieten are his assistants who are loved and feared by children. To children who have been good during the past year, they are goofy and fun-loving, but children who have been naughty are always slightly worried that the Black Petes might put them in a bag to punish them.

But… the worst association might be the fact that Piet is also a slang term for ‘penis’ in Dutch.

Though I don’t like the name Piet on a girl for all the abovementioned reasons, I still believe that Piet van Oers might be able to rock this name if she turns out to be a strong and feisty little lady. What do you think about using boys’ names for girls? Does it take a strong girl/woman to rock a masculine name?

Picture of a 'Zwarte Piet' ('Black Pete')

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Wanted: An Indian girls’ name starting with A for Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan

Last week Indian actors Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan welcomed their first child, a yet to be named daughter. After the birth Abhishek told his Twitter followers that he and Aishwarya were looking for a name that starts with A. Assuming that they’d want to give their baby girl an Indian name, I thought I’d look into Indian girls’ names and pick my favorites :-).

AALIYA / AALIYAH – Means ‘high, towering, tall, excellent’.

ALEESHA – Means ‘noble’.

ALIZA – Means ‘protected’.

ALYSSA – Means ‘sweet angel’.

AMEERA – Means ‘leader, princess’.

AMIYA – Means ‘delightful’.

ANALILIA – Means ‘full of grace’ and ‘lily’.

ANIYA – Means ‘creative’.

ASHIKA – Means ‘person without sorrow.’

AYANNA – Means ‘innocent’.

I have to admit that I don’t know an awful lot about Indian names (I really have to look into them more), so I have no idea whether these names are currently popular in India or not. But what I like about the above-mentioned names is that they can be pronounced in different languages without people ‘destroying it,’ as Ana Ortiz calls it. The information on the meaning behind the name comes from India Parenting.

Can’t wait to hear which name Aishwarya and Abhishek end up choosing for their
baby girl :-)!


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Name guessing: What name will Victoria and Daniel of Sweden pick if their baby is a boy?

Last week I wrote a blog post on girls’ names that are very likely to be on Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and her husband Daniel Westling’s shortlist. My guess is that if they have a girl, she will be named KRISTINA ALICE EVA SILVIA ;-). Now this week I’ll be going through some boys’ names that frequently occur in the Swedish royal family tree…

ADOLF – I added this one to the list because it was quite a popular royal name in Sweden throughout history. Combinations with Adolf included Adolf Friedrich, Fredrik Adolf, Gustaf Adolf and Gustav Adolf. But after Adolf Hitler’s path of destruction during World War II, there is no way Victoria and Daniel will name their son Adolf.

AUGUST – Cute name that sparingly occurs in the Swedish royal family tree.

CARL / KARL – There is no other name that occurs more frequently than this one (both spelling variants are equally popular and pronunciation is the same). Very often, though, this name occurs in combination with another name. Victoria’s younger brother’s name, for instance, is Carl Philip, and her father’s name is Carl Gustaf. Other combinations with Carl/Karl are Carl Adolf, Carl Gustav, Carl Johan, Carl Oscar, Karl Gustaf, Karl Gustav and Karl Johan.

EUGEN – Swedish variant of the English name Eugene.

FREDRIK (Fredrik Adolf) – A popular name in the Swedish royal family during the past four centuries, but I think it’s very unlikely that Victoria and Daniel pick this name as the Crown Prince of Denmark’s name is Frederik. But you never know…

GUSTAF / GUSTAV – Another name that occurs often in the Swedish royal family tree. As I mentioned before, Victoria’s father’s name is Carl Gustaf and her paternal grandfather’s name was Gustaf Adolf. Furthermore, King Gustav Adolf (1594-1632) is considered to be the founder of the Swedish empire.

NIKOLAUS – Cute name, but it hasn’t been used very often in the royal family.

OSCAR – This is definitely my favorite name from this list! And I had no idea that the name Oscar occurred so frequently in the Swedish royal family. Let’s face it, the title “HRH Prince Oscar of Sweden” would be too cute :D!

My guess for a boy: OSCAR CARL AUGUST GUSTAV.

What do you think?

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