Brooklyn Beckham — a new surname a new life?
Does changing your name change your life?
By Jo Lucas
So, little Brooklyn Beckham is all grown up and he married his sweetheart in a lavish $3m reception that hit the headlines in every corner of the world and good on them — the old romantic in me melts a little to see a young couple so in love and declare it to the world!
I’ve always had a vested interest in the Beckhams, being originally from the North West of England, Manchester United was the gods of soccer and David Beckham was the most famous footballer of all during that time. Also, though because David and Victoria married a month before I did back in 1999. Bizarrely enough Brooklyn was a 3-month-old page boy at their wedding — that makes you feel old now, doesn’t it?
During that time in the late 90s there were sightings of ‘Posh n Becks’ all over Manchester — you’d be sat in a restaurant and the waiter would proudly announce that they had eaten there earlier in the week …. and prices promptly went up and the ability to book tables became impossible as Beckham frenzy took hold all across the Northwest of England — they were everywhere!
Back then, I followed the Beckham’s wedding plans like an avid stalker in all the newspapers. Every leaked paparazzi photo, every ‘friend’ who sold their story to the national newspapers, I drooled and tried to emulate for my own upcoming wedding as much as I could on my drastically downsized budget — definitely, no thrones, Vera Wang wedding dress, and matching bride and groom outfits for me and my now ex-husband though!
And last week the Beckham’s eldest child, Brooklyn married Nicola Peltz in Palm Beach, Florida on a sprawling estate, and after the last of the confetti was swept up and the photos were leaked to the press, it was interesting to read that, Brooklyn had changed his middle name to that of his new bride. He was going to be known as Brooklyn Peltz Beckham and she, in turn, was to adopt the double-barreled surname of Nicola Peltz Beckham. He has received praise from some quarters for this as the epitome of the modern marriage, but it made me think about how many women over the centuries have given up their birth surname and adopted their new husbands' name and identity without a choice and how socially accepted this archaic patriarchal practice has been without question until very recently, and more importantly how much of your own identity is wrapped up in your name?
A covered woman!
Historically, a bride adopting her husband’s surname is known as a ‘couverture’ and means that once married a woman is ‘covered’ by her new husband as they merge into one identity. She becomes a ‘covered woman’. It also meant that the husband had total legal control and power over his new wife, along with her property, financial assets, her body, and any children borne during the marriage. Makes you shudder as a modern-day woman to think about that, doesn’t it?
It made me think back to 1999 and my wedding and how eagerly I gave up my birthname of twenty-seven years to take on my husband’s surname without a second thought. At my wedding reception, I had the weird experience of my ex-father-in-law ‘officially’ welcoming me to his family by telling me that I was now ‘one of them’. That should have been a foreboding message of the doom to come - but I was excited and it was only when I looked over at my dad, as he had heard the whole conversation and I saw the sad expression on his face, that I had my doubts, I’ll never forget that look on his face.
Yet, as time wandered on the weird thing was I did start to feel like a different person. The change of name was my way of showing how much I loved my husband and a way of showing everyone that we were supposed to be a team and sharing his name brought us closer, or so I thought. Ignorant of the future to come, l embraced it, and proudly changed my driving licence, passport, and bank accounts to assume his name and different identity to tell the world that I belonged to my husband and my old identity and my maiden name just disappeared until it was a distant memory.
It wasn’t until 2018 and my marriage had started to crumble that it reared up, but this time with a new vicious twist. By the time I knew the marriage wasn’t salvageable, and believe me I tried all I could to save it, things had become awful between my husband, his family, and myself that the issue of the surname came up again.
Even though I was still legally married, my husband and his family started referring to me in conversations and documentation as my maiden name. The same father in law that had welcomed me into his family all those years before told me that I wasn’t worthy of his family’s surname anymore, hence I was to be known by him and the family by my maiden name going forward. I was devastated and it cut into me like a knife.
At this point, I was very vulnerable anyway but to tell me that they didn’t see me by the name I had adopted, ensured that I didn’t feel like me anymore. I was lost and in limbo. I didn’t know who I was anymore. My identity had been stripped away from me and the surname I had so proudly taken on as my own just jarred with me until I cringed when people called me by it and I became physically repulsed by it as it just brought back the memories of that sad lonely existence of a doomed marriage.
So, fast forward to October 2021, although I wasn’t married anymore, I realised that I still bore the name of a man I was no longer with or loved. I decided that enough was enough, I wanted to claim back the real me and I changed my name legally by deed poll. The easy thing would have been to have just gone back to my maiden name, but I felt like I left that person behind in 1999.
It has taken me four years to unravel myself from my ex-husband in every aspect, emotionally, legally, and psychologically. For the first time, I have assumed the life of an independent modern woman. I have my own house, my job, and more importantly my own life. I’m totally on my own not reliant on anyone, let alone a man, and the freedom and joy it’s brought me is exhilarating!
Lucas = Bringer of Light!
So, I decided I’d choose my own surname, Lucas. The Greek meaning of it is ‘bringer of light’, but it primarily pays tribute to my great-aunt, Adeline, who never married or had children as her boyfriend was killed in World War I and she often referred to herself as an ‘unclaimed treasure!’. She came to live with my family when I was a teenager as an elderly lady in her eighties.
She was one of those women you meet who could actually tell a story properly, she was amazing and I was inspired! I would sit for hours with her while she talked about history, politics, and social issues. She was extremely intelligent and was constantly writing.
She played such a huge part in my teenage years and I feel like it was quite a fitting tribute to this amazing woman that I now near bear her surname and I hope that I will live up to her with my new name … who knows where it will take me as I assume another name and identity going forward, all I do know is that it will take a lot for me to give up my name again in a hurry!