When Prince Harry and Meghan announced that they had named their daughter Lilibet “Lili,” the most obvious initial reaction was to exclaim that this was a lovely tribute to Harry’s grandmother. The use of her childhood nickname, coined after she struggled as an infant pronounce Elizabeth, sent a message of personal fondness from the Sussexes despite the significant and very public disagreements they have had with the Firm.
However, in the days that have followed the announcement, it has become apparent that many people believe there is a lot more to say. The Times of London, often referred to as the UK’s paper of record, described the move in its editorial as having “something tone-deaf” about it. “The Sussexes have taken a very personal nickname and added it to their brand,” the editorial’s headline read. The Daily Mail—one of several media outlets that the Sussexes have announced they will no longer be communicating with—described the choice on their front page as the “Name that’s split Britain.” There has been endless analysis on television, social media, and in print, with views ranging from the decision being a touching olive branch to the monarchy to a self-serving attempt by Harry and Meghan to emphasize their royalness.
The question of to what extent the Queen had been consulted about the name has also been raised, and answered in various different ways, over the past few days with no official comment from the Palace or the Sussexes. However, this morning, Harry and Meghan were moved to issue a statement on this particular matter after the BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond reported that a Palace source had told the BBC that the Queen was “never asked” over the use of her childhood nickname. Shortly after, a spokeswoman for Harry and Meghan emphasized that the Queen was informed and she was “supportive.”
“The Duke spoke with his family in advance of the announcement, in fact his grandmother was the first family member he called. During that conversation, he shared their hope of naming their daughter Lilibet in her honor. Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name.” Furthermore, reports suggest that the couple’s lawyers have issued legal warnings about the “defamatory” nature of the BBC’s report. The Palace has yet to make any official statement, and given their precedent of commenting as little as possible on personal matters, it seems unlikely that they will.
In choosing the name Lilibet for their daughter, the Sussexes have breathed new life into a piece of royal history. Once only associated with the Queen and her past, it is now also at the heart of another story about the royal family's future.
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