Harry and Meghan's baby daughter's name could be an 'olive branch', experts say

·Royal Correspondent
·6-min read

Watch: Lilibet Diana: Britons react to new royal baby's name

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to name their daughter Lilibet could represent an olive branch to the rest of the Royal Family, experts have said.

Harry and Meghan announced the birth of Lilibet Diana on Sunday 6 June, confirming she had been born in Santa Barbara, California, on 4 June.

The couple said the baby's first name was after her great-grandmother the Queen, using Her Majesty's nickname from childhood, which they will shorten to Lily.

"Lilibet" became a nickname for the future Queen when she couldn't pronounce her own name, and it's said it was George V, her grandfather, who first started using it.

Her second name comes from her late grandmother Princess Diana.

Russell Myers, royal editor of the Daily Mirror, told Lorraine: "I think it is a lovely gesture, everyone loves a baby, especially a royal baby, it can perhaps have healing powers.

"It's been a turbulent time."

He noted that Lilibet's cousin Princess Charlotte has Elizabeth and Diana in her name, too, adding: "Zara Tindall got Elizabeth in the name too. [Lilibet is] the nickname Elizabeth gave herself because she couldn't say her name, it's what she put on [Philip's] card at his funeral."

However royal biographer Angela Levin told Good Morning Britain the name had been Prince Philip's name for the Queen, and she felt it was "quite demeaning" for Harry to use it. 

"I would like to move the event [of the baby's birth] out of the way of the name," she said. "I don't think it's a good idea, I think it's quite rude to Her Majesty.

"It was a very private nickname from her husband who hasn't been dead for very long, Prince Charles would never dream of referring to his mother as Lilibet."

Read more: Queen 'delighted' as Harry and Meghan welcome daughter – and Eugenie 'couldn't be happier'

Daily Telegraph royal editor Camilla Tominey told ITV's This Morning that the Queen's parents and her sister went on to use it too as it stuck, with Philip using it from their courtship and through their 73-year marriage.

Tominey revealed that the Queen and other family members were told before Sunday evening of Lily's arrival.

"We know she knew, because baby was born Friday, but the announcement did take Buckingham Palace by surprise, they didn't know it was coming at the press office.

"Diana I don't think took anyone by surprise. It was a given they would give Diana as a name.

"Equally the nod to the Queen might be an olive branch.

"Maybe that is an attempt to make sure there are ties that bind across the Atlantic divide."

Harry said he felt as though the press would not stop until Meghan was dead. (Apple TV)
Harry has opened up about his mental health over the last few months, particularly in relation to his childhood. (Apple TV)

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Myers also revealed that the Queen may have already known of Harry's intention regarding the name, because "Harry had said to the Queen before he had a daughter that he may name a daughter after her".

Former palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter wrote for The Mirror: "I’m surprised by Harry and Meghan’s choice of names for their daughter. It’s not unusual for families to name babies after a parent or grandparent.

"But given everything that’s gone on over the past few months, such as the interview with Oprah in March and Harry’s appearance on a mental health programme for Apple TV, I’m taken aback.

"In those interviews, Harry was very critical of his father and his upbringing so by default was also critical of the Queen.

"He moved to California to distance himself, but choosing this name is a complete about-face. So I wonder if taking the Queen’s nickname for his baby is an olive branch? Only Harry can answer that."

Harry is next due to be in the UK on 1 July when he and William will be unveiling a statue of their late mother at the sunken garden in Kensington Palace.

Myers said the prince is likely to still come despite the new arrival.

The couple later added this picture of their son to the post. (Archewell)
Harry and Meghan shared this picture of Archie in May for his second birthday. (Archewell)

He said: "Our understanding was Harry was definitely going to be here on July 1, standing shoulder to shoulder with William. 

"Relations are very tense but this is for a great cause. I understand he will come over.

"He will probably need to leave in a week or so as he will need to quarantine, so Meghan might get [her mother] Doria over.

"This is very important, it's come at a good time, this olive branch being extended, it's been a very tense period of time."

The situation between Harry and William has been difficult for some 18 months, with Harry describing them as "on different paths" when he was still a senior royal.

It does not appear to be healing following Harry's interviews reflecting on his life in the senior royal fold, including his sit-down with Oprah Winfrey, in which he suggested his brother and father were "trapped".

Defending the choice of name and Harry and Meghan's decision to speak out in recent months, journalist Afua Adom told Good Morning Britain: "It's a nod of affection, I don't think they have anything to apologise for. 

"They are talking about their own experiences, what they went through and if other people find that offensive then that's up to them, then they have something to feel guilty about."

The post for Archie's birthday was shared on Global Citizen alongside this image of the duke and duchess. (Matt Sayles)
Harry and Meghan are 'au fait' with a black and white social media image, one expert pointed out. (Matt Sayles)

Read more: Meet the other US-born British royal – the daughter of a Windsor and an actress

Adom added: "I don't think Harry was saying 'my parents were bad people', they were saying that perhaps some of the parenting that went on was not the best.

"He is of a different generation, he's talking about his mental health to inspire other people to do the same thing.

"Them naming the baby Lilibet is a nod of affection and a very lovely nod of affection to the Queen."

The couple did not share a picture of baby Lily on Sunday when they announced the birth, and given their care to ensure their son Archie is not photographed, fans may be waiting a while to catch a glimpse of the newborn.

Tominey said: "If we do see a photograph, I wouldn't hold your breath, when Archie was born we got a picture of his feet.

"A smiley baby photo might be some weeks coming. They are so au fait with social media though so we might get a nice black and white snap."

Harry and Meghan do not currently have their own social media accounts, having mothballed their Sussex Royal Instagram when they agreed not to use the word "royal" in any jurisdiction as part of their stepping back from senior royal duties.

However, they share pictures and news via their Archewell website, where they recently added a picture of Archie for his second birthday.

Watch: Baby Lilibet joins Prince Harry and Meghan at Madame Tussauds in Sydney

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