Years ago I wrote an essay about Michael Jackson and learned that the name “Prince”
— which Michael bestowed on his sons, in a gesture that most of the world
quite reasonably took to be ostentatious and silly
— had in fact been in Michael’s family for hundreds of years,
and was a name first given to one of his slave ancestors in the South.
Could this also be the case with Prince?
That is, after all, his real name.
The birth certificate says Prince Rogers Nelson
(the clerk wrote Prince Roger Nelson, a mistake).
But it turns out that neither the name Prince nor that of Rogers had been used by Prince’s family in living memory.
The reality of where he got them was way weirder.