Thursday, 17 Jun 2021

Lilibet row ‘undermines’ olive branch to Queen– Meghan and Harry accused of ‘cynical ploy’

Prince Harry 'told Queen he'd name child after her' says expert

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A row over whether Prince Harry had spoken to the Queen about his intention to name his daughter Lilibet exploded earlier today after a Palace source denied reports the Duke of Sussex ever asked the monarch for permission to use Her Majesty’s moniker. This briefing, according to the Daily Express royal correspondent Richard Palmer, weakens the view shared by many commentators earlier this week that naming the Sussexes’ newborn Lilibet Diana was a major olive branch offer to the Firm.

Mr Palmer wrote on Twitter: “The Palace briefing does rather undermine the idea that this was an olive branch to the Queen.

“Some may think it strengthens the argument that this was a cynical ploy by a couple keen to cement their royal brand, the one thing that makes them marketable to commercial clients.”

Among the commentators who spoke in these terms about the choice of Meghan and Harry there has been Sarah Vine.

She wrote in the Daily Mail yesterday: “While Harry and Meghan may have had the absolute best intentions in naming their new arrival Lilibet, in the light of their recent uncaring attacks on the Queen part of me worries that it feels like a rather shameless, attention-grabbing attempt to boost their royal brand – a brand on which their future earnings and bankability very much depend.”

Mr Palmer also commented on the Palace source’s denial, first published by the BBC, noting it gives the idea the Firm and the Sussexes “can’t even agree” on a name.

He said: “On the one hand, few ask their granny if it’s OK to name their child after her but, on the other, it’s interesting that the Queen and the Sussexes can’t even agree on whether there was a conversation about the name beforehand.”

He ended his tweet mentioning the Queen’s 61-word-long statement which followed Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, saying: “Recollections may vary.”

A few hours after the BBC published the Palace source’s denial, a source close to Prince Harry and Meghan hit back. 

They said: “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 honour.”

The insider, who spoke after Mr Palmer tweeted his views on the Palace source’s claims, added: “Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name”.

Other royal correspondents and commentators weighed in the row after the Sussex camp made their voice heard.

Lilibet Diana: Expert discusses when photo may be released

Omid Scobie, who co-authored the biography Finding Freedom, believes the Palace source’s briefing could cast a light on the massive distance between aides and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

He tweeted: “Those close to Prince Harry confirm that he spoke to close family before the announcement so perhaps this report highlights just how far removed aides within the institution (who learned of the baby news alongside the rest of the world) now are from the Sussexes’ private matters.”

Commentator Russell Myers stood by his report from earlier this week of the conversation between the Queen and Prince Harry over the name of the Sussexes’ newborn.

He tweeted: “My understanding was (and still is) that Harry alone previously spoke to the Queen about the name Elizabeth and Lilibet, and did not seek ‘permission’.

“HMQ said it was a ‘lovely idea’.”

And Richard Eden, commenting on the Sussex camp’s reply, said: “Surely, that’s telling the Queen about the decision they’ve already made, rather than seeking permission beforehand?

“HM was hardly likely to say, ‘No’.”

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on Sunday the couple had welcomed their daughter on Friday, June 4.

A statement informed the baby was born at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and weighed 7lb and 11oz.

Explaining the reason behind Lili’s names, the statement said: “Lili is named after her great-grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen, whose family nickname is Lilibet.

“Her middle name, Diana, was chosen to honour her beloved late grandmother, The Princess of Wales.” 

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