Lilibet Diana’s parents cause an international incident over her name

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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3 thoughts on “Lilibet Diana’s parents cause an international incident over her name

  1. Hi, well so many things have been running through my head during this week that I can’t even remember all anymore. H and M are exhausting. I felt vexed, annoyed, borderline outraged and furious at different stages and I’m not even part of that family (I’m taking it easier now). Bottom line is, everybody knew about this nickname for the Queen but also everybody knew it was deeply personal. It’s a made up word by the 3 / 4 year old child the Queen once was, who was struggling to pronounce her full name, Elizabeth, and instead started saying “Lilibet”, which amused her grandfather George V so much he started using it and so it started being used by her grandmother Queen Mary, her parents who later became George VI and Queen Elizabeth, some aunts, uncles, eventually by princess Margaret and eventually by prince Phillip. While is true some other relatives in the N degree among european royalty might be in a position to use it (like King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain did in her public condolences for the death of prince Phillip died, when they addressed QEII as “aunt Lilibet”), it is also known that none of the Queen children or grandchildren addresses her like that nor there is any indication they have been educated or authorized by her to address her like that. So for H and M to go and take that nickname and use it as a name for their newborn daughter feels like a disrepect or at least like they overstep whatever confidence she gave them.

    Thinking back, I remebered one of the many observations made about this debacle, that this couple seems to have a penchant for using nicknames as names for their children. This, added to the decision of naming their daughter with another person’s private nickname, does sound like a thing some US citizens are very prone to do. Another observation made is that they used a nickname as a name, yet at the same time they shortened the nickname into another nickname. As per their statement, her name is Lilibet (already a nickname) but they are calling her “Lili” (a nickname of the nickname). Like some have said, why not just name her “Lili” or even “Lily” directly? It would have still carried some link to the Queen without being that intrusive.

    Apparently, and I guess this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, H told the Queen years ago that if he had a daughter he wanted to name his daughter after the Queen. The people telling this story wanted to make it look like H had the Queen permission to do this years ago. If such conversation ever happened, surely the Queen was thinking he meant her full name, Elizabeth, and not her nickname, Lilibet. Probably that was his intention back then, and if it wasn’t, he should have been more specific (assuming this conversation even happened). But either way, his phone conversation with the Queen about the name (which nobody knows if it happened before or after the birth) really doesn’t sound like a request for approval, not even in H and M own statement refuting the BBC report. One thing is “sharing with the Queen their hope of naming their daughter after her” and another entirely different thing is to seek express approval / permission from the Queen to use her personal nickname as a name for their daughter.

    Another thing pointed out by some like Perez Hilton, is that in a way this baby has the same names as princess Charlotte. Princes Charlotte full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. This baby is now Lilibet (which we know comes from Elizabeth) Diana. This is borderline disturbing, and if not, at the very least annoying for William and Kate (although maybe they haven’t noticed, given everyone’s focus on the Lilibet part).

    Going back to H and M penchant for nicknames and your point about burdening this girl with the names of 2 famous family members (from the side of the family her parents keep bashing), it also came to my attention that for their firstborn, they chose a nickname (Archie) and a name coming from a last name (Harrison) that have nothing to do with the BRF, in the sense that those are not historically used first names / last names / nicknames in the family (that we know of). Meanwhile, with their second child they have done the opposite, using a nickname created by the current monarch (Lilibet) and the name of the only other female family member that was truly close of surpasing the Queen in worldwide fame, which was H’s mother (Diana). So the son has names totally not linked to the BRF but the daughter has names fully linked to them, while the son was born in the UK when his parents were still senior royals and the daughter was born in the US when her parents were no longer senior royals and were at war with the BRF. It’s all very dizzing and beyond the wildest imagination. If we add to this the rumor that the word “Archie” was a nickname H had for prince George as a private joke yet it suddenly ended up as the name of H’s firstborn, and the increasing rumors that M is terrified that they could loose the Duchy titles and thinks H needs to rein back his criticism of the BRF, we have a head-spinning situation where they probably named their son with a mindset and their daughter with a different mindset, but in both cases a very calculated mindset.

    On top of all this, it also happened that the lack of tribute to Doria Ragland or her side of the family in the child’s names led to criticism by many of how M’s mother was ignored when naming this baby in favor of choosing a first name linked to the head of the supposedly racist / generationally damaged BRF. Then came reports by People magazine and others claiming the name did honor the Ragland family because Doria used to call M “flower” (and the nickname “Lili” links to the flower Lily) and that a great-aunt of M was also known as Lili. It’s all very out of left field and not believable since H and M own statement clearly explained the reasons behind each name, so these reports about links with Doria and her family are about saving face.

    As for the BRF reactions, I think the family and their PR teams decided that since these were congratulatory post for the birth of H and M second child, photos with otheir firstborn would not be pertinent / would detract attention. I think the Queen was the only one to address H and M by their titles, the rest didn’t and that can be read in different ways. It could be that they don’t wish to use the titles because they don’t consider H and M worthy of those after all the trashing, it could be shade of the type “since H and M find the BRF so horrendous, then we will respect their sentiments and not address them using British titles” ot it could genuinely be “since they want to be treated as normal people, we will respect their wishes by calling them only by their first names”. I think is also clear that the Palace was not informed H and M would release their statement last Sunday (overshadowing D day conmemorations, btw) and they had to scramble to post the different congratulations.

    It’s also clear to me that H really doesn’t know his family and the codes of the system he was born into. Because of her own education, the Queen wouldn’t blatantly tell him not to name this baby Lilibet or that it was akward for her. The use of high ranking yet anonymous courtiers to communicate her opinions to the press is known by royal observers, yet H seems ignorant of this, judging by the Cease and Desist statement of his lawyers (and a ridiculous shade by Omid Scobie I think, that this showed the courtiers were not as privy to the Sussexes affairs as before). But the BBC only amended some things of their original story, overall they stood by it, and the Palace didn’t push back against the BBC either. Now we have the Daily Mail story and I hope is true. According to Omid Scobie, H and M are going to take 20 weeks paternity leave (another thing heavily critized by some, because is not like they have 9 to 5 jobs, but whatever), and this sounded good if only because we might get 20 weeks of peace, except that so far what we have gotten is this row about their daughter’s name and a video from H about the Invictus Games (paternity leave who?). So far I don’t see much hope they will truly stay under the radar for 20 weeks (not counting July 1 and the Diana statue unveiling), so I really hope the Queen puts them in their place the next time they or their people show up with another crazy story.

    I was re-reading Kitty Kelley’s book the Royals and some of Sarah Ferguson’s behaviour in the 90s prior to her divorce could have been a lesson to H and M. Sarah also ignored advices, failed to learn from her mistakes in those days and blamed everybody else from the bad things happening to her. It took for her to hit rock bottom (bankruptcy, the foot incident with her lover) for her to became more discreet (and even so, she has made some mistakes after that). H and M seemed to be in a similar path and who knows where it will take them. This latest row is just the last chapter in an ongoing saga with uncertain ending.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. First of all, this is a super cute name. We knew that Harry’s daughter would bear his mother’s name, so I don’t have an issue with Diana. What is confusing is why they would name her “Lilibet” only to shorten it to Lili. Why they didn’t just call her “Lili Diana” with Lili honoring The Queen in her personal, private nickname, and Diana in honor of Harry’s mother, is beyond me. 

    What has triggered most people is how the Sussexes have been bashing the Institution of the Monarchy, along with Britain, these past few months, only to have them name their daughter after the very person who represents that Institution. I can’t tell whether they are trolling The Queen or sucking up. If it’s the former, shame on them, if it’s the latter, shame on them. Who names their child after their abuser? Psychologists must be having a field day with this. If they are sucking up to The Queen, don’t they realize that she’s surrounded by the very courtiers they are complaining about? The Queen listens to those courtiers, so the Sussex efforts to sway her are in vain. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to mend fences with the heir who is (in a lot of ways) acting as Regent already? 

    To give such a high-profile and controversial moniker to their daughter just reeks of them anticipating her to not have a private life. And that’s a shame. When Archie was born, it was stated that they didn’t want him to have any title (he is currently allowed to be styled as Earl of Dumbarton) as they wanted him to be a private citizen. Then, they named a foundation after him. Now, they name their daughter after the most famous women in the world. They want privacy for their kids, yet all the titles and fame.

    The fact that this didn’t end there, but now with the suing of the BBC, the Sussexes are literally the definition of a hot mess. They didn’t sue Valentine Low and The Times for the bullying claims, nor did they sue Backgrid/Page Six for the photos of Meghan taking Archie to school. Yet, the BBC wrote about a Palace source commenting on something so trivial, the Sussexes are back to their modus operandi of suing everyone who utters their name.

    Please, make this make sense.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your point about Lili being forever “othered” is fab and I hadn’t thought about that. It makes me wonder if that desire for potential anonymity is what led Edward, Peter, Zara, and Eugenie to pick either top ten names (Mia, Lucas, Isla), top 200/incredibly classic names (Lena, Savannah, Louise, August), or the one name to not have been out of the top 20 in over 500 years (James). They probably liked that you wouldn’t see the name “Isla” on a school roll and immediately know who she was. There are lots of Lilys/Lillys/Lilis. Had they named her so she might have had a chance of anonymity but Lilibet singles her out from the start. Which I suppose is the whole point.

    I agree with Carolina’s assessment that they seemed to have named their daughter with a specific purpose. Now, all parents should pick names thoughtfully but there is a difference between that and choosing a name based off of what one thinks is the most marketable/most likely to keep you in granny’s will. Lili’s name appears to have been chosen to suit her parents financial interests (yikes I’m mean) rather than what will suit her for the rest of her life. Because of course, Lili will have her name long after her parents brand inevitably fails (at this point, it’s really a matter of time) and will have to deal with the consequences of it. I hope that she loves her name and that it is never a burden for her because that’s what she deserves because she didn’t pick her parents. Even with that, she’s been surrounded by controversy of her parents making before she could focus her eyes and I hate that for her.

    It’s weird that they didn’t name her after Doria or even acknowledge her in their statement like they did with Archie’s birth. Have they fallen out with her too? Honestly wouldn’t surprise me. I didn’t know People was trying to spin the “flower” thing as a nickname but what I have read is that “flower” was Thomas’s nickname for Meghan. So they named her for two white women who work(ed) for the institution they claimed drove M to suicide and potentially after the white grandfather they don’t speak to but the black grandma doesn’t even get a mention. Way to go team LA.

    Lilibet is one of the only things the queen has had as Elizabeth Windsor. It’s HERS. She’s shared her whole life with the world and this nickname was one of the only things she had that was solely hers. And now it’s not anymore. Now it’s out in the public discourse for Ellen to make bad puns about on Twitter. It seems like they want to have the *more famous* Lilibet and it’s just icky.

    In terms of PR, do you think that the name effectively undermines any past or future criticism of the BRF? After all, Harry and Meghan can hardly go around criticizing them whilst their child is named for the face of the family and the institution. I think it even undermines everything said in the O interview as if all that had happened I doubt they would’ve wanted to honor them at all. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

    They say they wouldn’t have named her Lilibet if the queen wasn’t supportive but they registered trademarks on the name on May 31. So obviously they either never planned to ask or wouldn’t listened if they did ask and were told no. My question is just why? Why lie about that when they know people will look for and find the trademark registrations? It just makes them look worse and further erodes their credibility. Do they not realize that every little lie exposed makes it ever more likely that big lies will be exposed soon enough?

    This whole thing is just such a mess, an easily-avoided mess. If they had thought about the potential consequences of giving their daughter a name that would’ve shrouded her in controversy for her whole life they could have announced their new baby and gotten a lot of good press. Instead, they’ve further damaged their relationship with the queen, potentially lost the one thing they got press for (attacking his family), and lost the fact they got always got good press when it came to their child. They always choose the worst option don’t they.

    Liked by 2 people

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