The Christmas season often brings forth stories that act as an ‘Indian summer’ for the silly season, reminding us of warm August evenings, listening to the closing overs of a test (rain permitting), and a time when you can sit outside a pub drinking Ordinary in any London green. Summer nostalgia aside, this year’s theme revolves around name changes.
In Manhattan, Jorge Luis Espinal sent a reporter to new heights of expression with his legal petition for the Second Coming:
A Manhattan man’s holiday spirits soared to celestial heights today when a judge gave him permission to change his name to Jesus Christ.
Jose Luis Espinal, 42, said he was “happy” and “grateful” that the judge approved the change, effective immediately.
Espinal said he was moved to seek the name change about a year ago when it dawned on him: “I am the person that is that name.”
The article provides some further information on the legal framework governing legal name changes. You can be a name but not a number in South Dakota. You can be Jesus Christ so long as your intention is not to defraud others by your actions or avoid an obligation. Jose has more chance of changing his name than a convicted conman, or possibly, a politician such as Tony Blair, if the latter wished to change his name to that of the Christian Messiah.
The judge said she held a hearing in which Espinal, who also uses the last name Tejeda, testified. She said he was aware of the “common law right to assume another name without legal proceedings so long as the change is not made to deceive or perpetrate a fraud or to avoid an obligation” but wanted to go the formal route anyway.
The judge said Espinal’s “reasons were primarily those applicable to his own private religious beliefs and he stated no desire to use his proposed name to secure publicity, to proselytise, to fund-raise or advise others that he had been cloaked by the courts or government with a religious authority”.
Jose’s example has been followed by that closet nominalist Prince Charles who is reported to be seeking coronation as King George VII. Changing the name of the Prince or Princess on accession to the throne is quite common and the Royal Family supposedly views the name Charles as jinxed, due to associations with decapitating Puritans and rebellious Jacobite pretenders.
Patrick Cracroft-Brennan, a genealogist from Cracroft’s Peerage, said: “There has been a tradition over the last century for the regnal title to be different to the christian name. The change would make sense.
“Monarchs called Charles have not had much luck. One was beheaded, one was in exile, and one was a pretender to the throne.
While the Prince of Wales is known throughout the world as Charles, there is enormous goodwill to the name George. George VI was an outstanding and popular king who took over in the aftermath of the abdication crisis and rallied his people during World War II, Mr Cracroft-Brennan said.
“King George and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother were wonderful. I think George VII and Queen Camilla sound wonderful, too.”
A swift name-change to airbrush the excesses and eccentricities of unfortunate heirs seems all too common with the Hanoverians. If our heir to the throne will adopt a name off Rainbow, surely Zippy or the more accurate Bungle would prove just as gracious and popular.