Isn’t this the Lilibet that Harry pretended to be a crappy mother?
By Sarah Vine
What’s in a name? Well, if you’re eighth in line to the British throne, a lot indeed. I’ve always felt that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would choose Diana as their first daughter – after all, so much of Prince Harry’s life is defined by the memory of his mother.
But what I – and I suspect many others – did not expect was the choice of the Queen’s nickname, Lilibet.
On the surface I see the attraction. It is such a beautiful name, despite the fact that it is not a real one.
It evokes images of a young Princess Elizabeth, grainy black-and-white photos of grandmother as a toddler in a hat, and intimate family memories. It has a fond connotation for all members of the royal family, perhaps even more so since the Duke of Edinburgh died earlier this year – this was a nickname he used for the Queen.
But it may be because Lilibet is such a very rare and special name that no other royal children have thought of using it.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are joined by her mother, Doria Ragland, when they introduced Archie to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
Even if they had wanted it, they might have felt—out of respect for Her Majesty—that it crossed an invisible line, a little too much presupposed.
But not the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. As always, they are not concerned with protocol and decency, and the gesture has naturally earned them a lot of praise from fans.
It is seen as a rapprochement, a ‘reaching out’, an ‘olive branch’ stretching across the Atlantic to people’s homes – an emotional act of quintessential generosity by two people who, as always, have been harshly judged by a cynical media.
So it’s with some trepidation that I take criticism – after all, in certain quarters, anything but fawning praise for this couple equals blasphemy.
But while Harry and Meghan may have had the best of intentions in calling their new arrival Lilibet, in light of their recent indifferent attacks on the Queen, part of me worries it feels like a rather blatant, attention-grabbing attempt to royal brand – a brand on which their future income and financial viability strongly depend.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with the new arrival. But at the same time you can be happy for them and Archie, who now has a little sister, and utterly stunned by its absolute brutality. Lilibet Diana? Serious? Quite apart from the odd juxtaposition of the two names – which in itself is quite a psychodrama – this Lilibet is not the same person who Prince Harry said was a crappy mother to Prince Charles, passing her poor parenting skills on to him so he was on his own. turn a worthless father for Harry?
Isn’t this the same Lilibet who, as Harry and Meghan suggested in that interview with Oprah Winfrey, was in charge of a bigoted, dysfunctional family of emotional pygmies?
The same Lilibet who allowed Diana to be locked out, who didn’t make sure Meghan got the support she needed as she struggled with her royal role?
Harry and Meghan’s supporters rushed to point out that the couple reportedly asked the Queen for permission to use Lilibet, and she approved. But she couldn’t really have said no, could she? Not without the fear of another TV interview in which she would no doubt be accused of turning them down.
Given everything the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said and implied about the Queen in recent months, you might have thought she was the last person they’d want to name their precious daughter after.
If she were indeed named after a relative, Meghan’s own mother Doria, who to my knowledge has been a constant and selfless source of strength for her daughter, would certainly have been more suitable.
Oprah would also have been a possibility as the Queen of the Interviews has played such a dramatic role in the couple’s lives.
But the actual queen, this supposed villain, this heartless matriarch? Doesn’t it seem rather odd, not to mention more than a little opportunistic? Because let’s face it, all of Harry and Meghan’s criticism of the royals didn’t go as well as they thought.
In fact, it’s fair to say there’s been a bit of a backlash.
Of course they could have just apologized openly and honestly; but why would you do that when you can turn your misjudgments into strategic advantage?
Because Lilibet Diana, as a name, certainly has its perks.
By naming their daughter after the Queen themselves and using the most intimate and personal name by which she is known, they have ensured that however frosty and distant relations with the royal family at home become, in the eyes of the public the association with the British Royal family will never be forgotten.
Whatever the future holds, the Queen will forever be a part of their lives. And, crucially, from Brand Sussex.
It’s true to the baby’s lineage…and not just the royal side
By Professor Kate Williams
Disrespectful. Rude. humiliating. These terms have all been used about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s name for their new daughter since her birth was announced on Sunday.
And all because they had the audacity to christen her Lilibet Diana, in honor of her paternal grandmother, the Princess of Wales, and her paternal great-grandmother, the Queen.
Yes, they have chosen a family nickname instead of ‘Elizabeth’ – but does it matter? As a historian, I am baffled by this backlash.
Many royals leave the names of immediate or distant ancestors to their children. Usually this is seen as a moving tribute to those who have come and gone.
The kings of yore often named a child in honor of the reigning monarch – hence the Jameses and Williams with which our royal history is dotted.
And the custom of choosing names from the royal canon lives on in the current generation, with Prince William and his wife Kate naming their eldest son George and their daughter Charlotte.
And when Princess Eugenie recently gave her baby the middle name Philip — a reference to the Duke of Edinburgh — it was a decision that was greeted with praise.
Henrys, Annes, Elizabeths… The royal lineage abounds, underlining centuries of shared history between past and present and confirming long-held dynastic ties.
I can’t help thinking that’s where the problem lies for those naysayers who are now hurling accusations of impudence at a couple doing only what’s appropriate for their daughter’s birthright.
The simple fact with the Sussexes is that they are criticized for doing what all the other royals do – giving a child a royal name
This is a name that clearly indicates that she is a great-grandchild of the Queen and is in the line of succession. I believe the Sussexes would be criticized whichever route they took.
Princess Anne’s daughter Zara and her husband Mike Tindall have given their trio of children the endearing but decidedly non-royal nicknames Mia, Lena and Lucas.
Had Harry and Meghan opted for something similar, they would have been accused of rejecting the tradition in an attempt to differentiate themselves.
In short, they can’t win – even though their choice recognizes Harry’s beloved mother and grandmother.
The simple fact with the Sussexes is that they are criticized for doing what all other royals do – giving a child a royal name.
By the way, the name Diana unites Lili with her cousins on two sides of the family: William’s daughter Charlotte, whose middle name is also Diana, and the youngest daughter of her great-uncle Earl Spencer, who is named Charlotte Diana.
Plus, Meghan also has a ‘Lillie’ in her family. Her enchanted aunt was Lillie Ragland – the first black director of a real estate agency in America – whose husband, Bill Evans, was a star baseball player.
Yet it is the choice of the Queen’s nickname Lilibet that has baffled critics.
Perhaps they feel it is at odds with Harry’s recent criticism of the royal institution.
But even though he and his wife have stepped down from the family business, they are still part of the family.
The couple have always made an effort to emphasize their respect and affection for the Queen (a monarch whose own name came from her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon).
Just two months ago, she lost her 73-year-old husband, and with his death it seemed like that endearing nickname he’d used all her life was about to die out.
No longer. Instead, it has been given a new lease of life by the latest generation of royals.
It’s sad that people can’t see the name for what it is: a touching gesture of respect and love for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
- Kate Williams is a professor of modern history at Reading University and author of Young Elizabeth and Rival Queens