Royal wedding: On being called Kate

Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, Kate Beckinsale The Kate brigade: Moss, Winslet and Beckinsale

The engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton has given this most classless of names a royal warrant. But, the Magazine asks, why is Kate such a popular name?

Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, Kate Silverton, Kate Beckinsale - Britain seems to be in thrall to a legion of successful young women called Kate. News of the engagement of Kate Middleton to Prince William has only helped solidify the name's place at the heart of modern Britain.

Like most Kates I was born a Katherine, named after St Catherine of Siena by my Roman Catholic parents.

However, the problem with Katherine, and the beauty of Kate, is that while the former comes in a multitude of guises - Catherine, Catharine, Kathryn, Cathryn and Katherine to name a few - and thus a wealth of potential spelling errors, Kate invariably comes in just one simple, four-letter form.

Cate Blanchett has rocked the boat a little, but for most of us Katherines/Catherines etc - being called Kate offers blessed relief from spelling error hell.

But there's more to the success of Kate than it simply being easy to write.

It feels like Kate has assumed a sort of classless acceptability which chimes with the breakdown of old status and gender barriers.

To me, it seems Kate is the perfect name for a modern, successful but down-to-earth young woman.

Royal assent?

It is feminine without being girly, like Annabel or Emily, yet has the fortune of being perceived as more professional on your CV than some of the more modern names that enjoyed a vogue in the 70s and 80s.

Kate Middleton Kate Middleton, who is destined to be Queen Catherine

It is traditional, without being old-fashioned like Heather or Margaret. Yet it retains an air of classiness without giving the impression that one lives off daddy's credit card.

Us Kates don't always assume this truncation effortlessly.

While the name that appears on my birth certificate is a rather Tudor sounding Katherine Jane, the beauty of being called Katherine, as any Elizabeth or Charlotte will know, is that it allows you to re-invent yourself whenever you see fit.

Yet even then there are many options.

As a child, I was known as Katie, a perfectly playful and girly name to match my chubby cheeks and long blonde hair. Around the age of nine or 10 I briefly decided that Katherine sounded much more grown-up, only to graduate to the more professional-sounding Kate when applying for my first jobs out of university.

I also spent two years working in France, and found that the simple "Kate" was much more preferable to the French pronunciation of "Kattee".

At 24, most of my friends now call me Kate, though I'll always be Katie to my mum and dad.

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I may not like the name that appears on my birth certificate, but perhaps without realising it, my parents gave me a name that would never be a burden, a name that would always make a good impression.

Yet, just when Kate was on the verge of graduating from a mere nickname to one which might appear on birth certificates, it seems the ultimate validation will be denied.

When Miss Middleton assumes the throne in future years we're told she will become Queen Catherine.

But despite this setback, she has proved that Kate is the name that can land you a prince.

Below is a selection of your comments

I was christened Catherine like Kate Middleton, and when I started primary school in 1974 there were three Catherines in my class. I have been Kate ever since, and I've always liked the name. Hopefully it will make a comeback now, as it doesn't seem to be used much now as a baby name. I teach in a primary school, and although we have a few Katies, we haven't had a pupil named Kate for years.

Kate D, London

Hooray for Kates! I'm utterly fed up spelling my full name every time ("with a K,erine"). Different people call me different variations on my name; full name at work, Katie to parents, Kate to the other half and in-laws. Incidentally my other half is also a William, and we were due to get married in 2011 too.

Katherine Walker, Bushmills, N Ireland

I couldn't agree more! I'm Catherine on my birth certificate, Kate to colleagues and lots of my friends, and Katie to my family. At heart I think of myself as Katie, but long ago decided this was too girly for work. The only variation of my name that REALLY grates with me, which unfortunately is still used by a small group of my former primary school friends, is Caff. I don't think we'll be hearing about Princess Caff of Wales in the near future, do you?

Kate Girling, Wokingham, Berkshire

"Kate... this most classless of names"? What planet do you live on, Ms Waters? Quite a well educated, comfortable kind of planet it seems...

Mick, Southampton

Why are so many WOMEN called Kate, you mean? Probably same reason so many women are called Jane - because it's a popular name. Rather a stupid question I would say (and that is coming from a Catherine shortened to Cat, Cath or Cathy).

'Elle Cat Bracey , via Facebook

We non-native English speakers are always amazed at native speaker's ability to cut down every name to one syllable, Kate is just one of them. Dan, Matt, Jeff, Jake, Ben, Nick...

Lukas (or should that be Luke?), London

Being a 17-year old Peregrine, I find that Perry is used in 99% of cases. Simply for being easier to spell, better to pronounce and far less embarrassing.

Perry W, Stoke

I was born in the 70s when Sarah, Jane, Joanne, Julie and Tracy were fashionable names. I am hugely grateful to my parents for giving me the moniker of Kate! My full name is the Irish Kathleen. I was not so impressed with that growing up because I used to find it a huge embarrassment when my full name was called out in the class register. No one wants to stand out and be different when they're a child, you want to blend in. But now I'm proud that for me, Kate is short for the slighter more unusual guise of Kathleen Jane. So thanks Mum and Dad for giving me the classless, timeless name of Kate which means "pure".

Kate Aslett, Plymouth, England

I have twin daughters age three - Katherine Verity and Elizabeth May. When we went to register their births the registrar said how pleased she was that we had chosen "normal names" and that she was tired of Ella Maes, Babylon Lou and other such silly names.

Joanne Skelton, St Albans, Herts

I feel the same about Joe/Joseph; like Kate, it changes depending on the situation I find myself in. For formal and traditional occasions, I can be called the masculine and spiritual character "Joseph" with great pomp and circumstance. But for cool-boy self-image and casual conversation, I love the more informal "Joe, and even the cute sounding "Joey" for the girls.

Joe Dodd, via Facebook

My cousin caused a lot of confusion on her wedding day when guests came looking for the wedding of Cathy. They were told they had the wrong church until someone explained to the ushers that her friends from work knew her as Cathy, but to her family she was Kate or Katy. Catherines can cause a lot of identity confusion.

Corinne, Kent, UK

"I briefly decided that Katherine sounded much more grown-up, only to graduate to the more professional-sounding Kate when applying for my first jobs out of university." How any name can sound more professional than another? Your name is your name, and even if you go by an abbreviated form, there is no need to feel you have to change it for a given situation. I've been Katherine all through school, uni and now in the workplace. Sure, my closest friends call me Kate - three syllables is apparently too much - and my family call me any number of variations as they have done forever. But I'd hate to feel like I'd have to change my name just to fit in.

Katherine (yes, still a Katherine), Canberra, Australia

I went to school with the author and always remember her as a Katie - some names just seem to suit people.

Jordan Marlow, Bury St Edmunds

Old fashioned? Thanks a lot!

Heather Stitt, UK

My parents always wanted me to be a Kate, but christened me Katharine precisely so I could have the freedom of choosing for myself. Even though I agree with them, I still appreciate their foresight. As a kid I thought Katie sounded childish, and even now the only person who can get away with calling me that is my boyfriend.

Kate, Bracknell, Berkshire

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