A week ago today, an announcement was posted on the Archewell website to announce the birth of Harry and Meghan’s second child. Here is the official statement in full:
“It is with great joy that Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, welcome their daughter, Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, to the world. Lili was born on Friday, June 4 at 11:40 a.m. in the trusted care of the doctors and staff at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA.
She weighed 7 lbs 11 oz. Both mother and child are healthy and well, and settling in at home.
Lili is named after her great-grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen, whose family nickname is Lilibet. Her middle name, Diana, was chosen to honor her beloved late grandmother, The Princess of Wales.
This is the second child for the couple, who also have a two-year-old son named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The Duke and Duchess thank you for your warm wishes and prayers as they enjoy this special time as a family.”
No photos were released with the statement, so here is a flashback photo of newborn baby Archie at Windsor Castle a few days after his birth.
Here are the statements/posts that were released by the British Royal Family after the news of Lilibet’s arrival:
A couple of quick thoughts about these posts from the BRF:
- None of the royal accounts posted pictures of members of the BRF with Harry and Meghan. They used pictures of Harry and Meghan at their wedding, in South Africa, and in California. Is this supposed to emphasize the fact that members of the BRF only met Archie a handful of times, and therefore don’t have many/any pictures with him? Is it a comment on the fact that they would like to be, in Taylor Swift’s words, “excluded from this narrative”?
- In all of the posts, Harry and Meghan are referred to with their given names, rather than with their titles. Was this trying to distance themselves from the BRF? Also, in one of the posts, the baby is called Lili instead of Lilibet. Was this deliberate for reasons listed below?
- It took a couple of hours for the above posts to be published. Did Harry and Meghan not tell their royal family members that they would be releasing their birth announcement?
Let’s dig into how this seemingly very nice news turned into a diplomatic and international relations nightmare.
Naming a child after the two most famous women in the world doesn’t scream “we value privacy”
Baby Lilibet Diana was named to honour/remember two people: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the late Princess of Wales (Princess Diana to us regular folk). Although these names both have a sense of personal meaning because they are related to Harry, it is odd that a couple so focused on the idea of privacy would name their child after two of the most well-known people in the entire world. Lilibet Diana’s name alone increases the demand for information about her. If she was named Jennifer, would she/photos of her be as sought after?
Also, by naming a baby with such a unique name that is clearly connected to the British Royal Family, Harry and Meghan are ensuring that Lilibet will be *othered* as she grows up. She will always be seen as not a regular person, and the name will ensure that everyone remembers it. There is very little opportunity for anonymity with a name like Lilibet Diana.
Giving a baby another person’s private nickname is very personal/borderline inappropriate
Naming a child after the Queen’s extremely private nickname, which her late parents and husband called her in private, is a very intimate thing to do. It also feels like a very rude and thoughtless action – to take something intimate and put it on the world stage, without realizing how it might affect the original owner of the name. If one of my family members, with whom I am essentially estranged, named one of their children my family nickname out of the blue, I would probably feel icky about it. That’s what this makes me feel. Icky.
Do Harry and Meghan love or hate the institution of monarchy?
The main problem that I have with Harry and Meghan is their inability to stick to one narrative. Do they love the monarchy? Their sussexroyal.com website (which is still up!???!) says that they want to honour and serve the British monarchy and Her Majesty The Queen. But then they go on Oprah and Dax Shephard and Apple TV and say that the institution is broken and racist, and imply that the Queen caused her children generational pain and trauma. They have never made directly negative comments about the Queen, but they have demonized the institution of which she is head and that has been her life’s work. So why name your child after two members of the institution you hate? Why have her first name be the name of a person who stands for all the things you claim to be disgusted by (racism, colonialism, capitalism, empire)? A person who personifies the institution that you willingly left?
(The answer to this is, of course, that Harry and Meghan want all of the good with none of the bad. They want to denounce all of the aspects of monarchy and the institution that they do not agree with, while gaining the economic and PR boost that would inevitably come with aligning themselves with the same institution they claim to denounce. But they can’t just say that. I don’t even know if they can admit it to themselves, to be honest.)
And that brings us to the last, and possibly most controversial, point:
It’s unclear if Harry and/or Meghan asked the Queen’s permission to name their baby Lilibet
This is where the *diplomatic incident* stuff really starts to happen. As you can read in the above official statement from Harry and Meghan, they say that Lilibet was named after her great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. It does not explicitly say that Harry and Meghan asked the Queen’s permission to name their baby Lilibet.
Also above, you can see that the royal family posts about the birth do not say that Harry and Meghan sought or received permission to call their baby Lilibet. (This isn’t required, by the way. Harry and Meghan can name their children whatever they want. Will and Kate actually did have to get permission for their children’s names, because their children are higher up the line of succession and Prince George is the heir apparent after his father and grandfather. However, it’s considered polite/good manners to seek the Queen’s approval on a possible name. And it becomes 100 times more important/polite to ask if you’re planning on naming your child after the Queen.
After a few days, the BBC received information from a credible Buckingham Palace staffer saying that the Queen, in fact, had not been asked permission by Harry and Meghan to name their child after her.
Although this was not an official statement from BuckPal, it was as official as could be expected in the circumstances. This was seen as a clear rebuttal by the Queen and the royal family that she had NOT been asked about the name.
After the BBC reported this, a “source close to Prince Harry” immediately refuted the BuckPal comment:
This was a clear escalation by Harry and Meghan’s camp. But the next thing they did was what made it go from “Oof” to “YIKES”/international incident level:
Harry and Meghan had their lawyers send a cease and desist letter to British media outlets about the Queen’s permission re: Lilibet’s name(!!!!)
I love this Tweet from royal reporter Richard Eden. In British speak, “Gosh” means “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD THIS IS EXPLOSIVE AND BAD!!!!”
This BBC story includes information on the C&D letter sent from Harry and Meghan’s law firm to media outlets:
“In a letter to some news broadcasters and publishers, the law firm Schillings, which acts for Prince Harry and Meghan, said the BBC report that the Queen was not asked for permission to use the name Lilibet was false and defamatory and should not be repeated.“
Again, in British speak, that is basically lobbing a grenade into the Windsor Castle courtyard. As far as I know, the escalation stayed at that level for the next few days because the British Royal Family was busy charming the G7 leaders in Cornwall and having tea with Joe and Dr. Jill Biden at Windsor Castle. But, on the last day of the G7 summit, a front-page story was published by the Daily Mail:
According to sources close to the Queen, she has ordered that enough is enough when it comes to Harry and Meghan. The Queen usually has a motto of “never complain, never explain”, but if more stories are leaked by Harry and Meghan, the Queen has instructed courtiers to correct things that are untrue. The story also includes this incredible tidbit:
“There was further irritation at the Palace when friends of Harry and Meghan suggested to US journalists that the Queen had been introduced to Lilibet over a video call…The insider last night denied that, stating, ‘No video call has taken place’.“
Allegedly, Harry and Meghan leaked a story about the Queen meeting baby Lilibet on a video call, and a palace source claims that that video call never happened!!!!!! That’s a full-on yikes. So Her Majesty has decided enough is enough, and that the palace will be allowed to brief reporters when they feel the “Sussex LA spin machine” is spewing mistruths. No word from Harry and Meghan or their lawyers (yet) since this Daily Mail story was published yesterday. I’ll keep you posted.
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