Princess Lilibet: What does her new title mean for the royal family?

Meghan and Harry’s daughter Lilibet is now a princess – the couple says it is her “birthright”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have started a new life in the United States following their exit from the royal sphere in 2020. They’ve taken care to shelter their children, Archie and Lilibet, from the media – it wasn’t really until the release of their Netflix series in December that the public got an insight into their personal lives, as well as more pictures of their kids.

The royal couple still holds the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but their children don’t have any titles above Master and Miss. Now, things have changed. 

Last week, Lilibet was christened at the family’s home in Montecito, California – and now she and Archie hold their own royal titles of Prince and Princess. Harry and Meghan claim it’s their “birthright” – and Buckingham Palace has already responded.

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Lilibet
Netflix

Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet became a major talking point the day she was born on June 4, 2021.

The name ‘Lilibet’ was a homage to Queen Elizabeth, who herself was called “Lilibet” as a toddler. It was first used by then-Princess Elizabeth because she couldn’t pronounce her own name correctly.

The Queen’s grandfather, King George V, used to call her “Lilibet.” As reported by The Guardian, the name then stuck; she was called Lilibet by the innermost circle of her family, including her late husband, Prince Philip.

Harry and Meghan faced criticism when naming their daughter Lilibet

When Philip wrote to his mother-in-law following their wedding, he said: “Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me.”

Though Harry and Meghan’s newborn daughter is named Lilibet, she will be known as “Lili.”

To honor both the Queen and Princess Diana (Lilibet has her grandmother’s name as her middle name) by naming their daughter after them seems like a lovely thing to do. However, the names hold an even deeper meaning than they first suggest, if certain rumors are to be believed.

Harry and Meghan faced heavy criticism over the names they chose for their beloved daughter immediately after her birth. One critic, royal commentator Richard Kay, wrote in a column for the Daily Mail that Meghan and Harry might have taken things too far by naming their daughter Lilibet.

“By giving the baby the name Lilibet, the Queen’s private family nickname – even though they intend to use the diminutive ‘Lili’ for their daughter – there is a risk,” Kay wrote, as quoted by Express.

Queen Elizabeth
Shutterstock/Alessia Pierdomenico

“Will it be seen as a presumptuous choice for a royal baby who is eighth in line to the throne, but who will grow up on the other side of the world speaking with an American accent?”

Was the Queen “desperately unhappy” with her great-granddaughter’s name?

Kay added: “And how might Prince Charles feel about his fifth grandchild carrying such an intimate family pet name that he has never used himself? It is tempting to wonder if Harry would have been so emboldened in his choice if his grandfather Prince Philip – the only close family member permitted to call the Queen ‘Lilibet’ – had still been alive.”

“Doubtless, there will be among the more cautious courtiers at the Palace some discomfort and the odd raised eyebrow at this latest convention-destroying Exocet from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.”

When asked what the Queen would think of the girl’s name, royal expert Angela Levin told Good Morning Britain she might even be offended.

“I think she’s desperately unhappy because they were desperately rude about her, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think it’s quite rude to her Majesty the Queen,” Levin said.

She added: “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. He’s never used it – it was a special name, especially for the the Duke of Edinburgh’. She added she believes it was ‘demeaning’ for the Sussexes to have used it”.

Meghan Markle, Harry, Lilibet
Netflix

Lilibet had to wait a whole year until she met some of her family from the British Royal Family. She celebrated her first birthday on the grounds of Frogmore Cottage, which up until last week, had been Harry and Meghan’s British base in the UK.

“Harry surely would have known…”

Several royal experts openly criticized Harry and Meghan for naming their daughter Lilibet. Royal author Tom Quinn has spoken out on the same subject in his new book Guilded Youth: An Intimate History of Growing Up in the Royal Family.

As reported by the Express, Quinn claims it is “beyond belief” that Harry couldn’t predict the trouble caused by giving Queen Elizabeth’s childhood name to his daughter.

Moreover, while he suggests that the couple only wanted to pay tribute to the monarch, Quinn says Harry should’ve known better.

“[Harry] surely would have known that appropriating the monarch’s beloved childhood nickname would be perceived by many as disrespectful and intrusive in a way that naming their daughter Elizabeth would have not been,” Quinn wrote in his book.

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Quinn added that at the time, some experts thought naming their daughter Lilibet was “cynical” and only an attempt by Harry and Meghan to increase their “royal currency,” even though it had been more than a year since they left the Royal Family.

Queen Elizabeth
Chris Jackson-Pool/Getty Images

Further, the royal author quoted royal biographer Gyleees Brandreth, who said that Queen Elizabeth was “touched” by the gesture from the Sussexes. However, according to Quinn, the late Queen never publicly shared how she really felt about her great-granddaughter being named Lilibet.

Lilibet christened – titled Princess

The author recalled that the late Queen did not publicly share how she interpreted the gesture by the Sussexes. Quinn added that the issue about Lilibet’s name simply shows a “fundamental misunderstanding based on differences between American and UK culture.”

“Meghan would never have thought naming her daughter Lilibet was anything other than a huge compliment; in the UK, it looks like an impertinence, and this is emblematic of many of Meghan’s difficulties,” he added.

When Harry and Meghan left royal life behind, they did not renounce their royal titles. The Prince remains in the line of succession, and after him, his two children, Archie and Lilibet, are currently sixth and seventh in line for the throne.

The two Sussex children were listed as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor and Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor in the line of succession. But now a considerable alteration has been made, which may even give an idea of what the future could hold.

On Friday, Lilibet Diana, who turns two in June, was christened by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the Rev John Taylor. Her name is now Princess Lilibet Diana – as Harry and Meghan, in a statement, said they believe the princess title is her “birthright.”

Lilibet
Netflix

The christening occurred privately at the Sussexes’ home in Montecito, California, with around 20 to 30 people in attendance, as reported by the Mirror.

Buckingham Palace’s response

“The children’s titles have been a birthright since their grandfather became monarch. This matter has been settled for some time in alignment with Buckingham Palace,” a spokesman for the couple said.

The Royal Family’s website has been updated accordingly – Archie and Lilibet are now listed as Prince Archie of Sussex and Princess Lilibet of Sussex. This is the first time their royal titles have been used publicly. 

The fact that Archie and Lilibet now bear the titles of prince and princess has confused many. Meghan spoke about the subject during the Oprah interview.

“They were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince or princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol,” she said. 

In 1917, George V created the rules that are still in place today. He decided that the children of the sons of any Sovereign “shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honor.”

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

More simply explained, the monarch’s grandchildren have the right to titles His Royal Majesty and Her Royal Majesty. This does not extent to great-grandchildren.

Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet in royal line of succession

Yet, there is one reported exception; the children of the eldest son of the heir. That is why the children of Prince William and Kate Middleton – the Prince and Princess of Wales – were given the royal titles Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis while Queen Elizabeth was still alive.

When the Queen passed and King George became the monarch, Archie and Lilibet became eligible for their own royal titles. Irrespective of the circumstances surrounding Harry and Meghan, their children are entitled to them.

As per the Daily Mirror, Harry and Meghan are understood to not want to deny their children their birthright. Instead, it’s their wish that Archie and Lilibet have a chance to decide for themselves if they wish to keep or drop their titles when they are older.

In everyday life, Archie and Lilibet will most likely not use their royal titles. They will probably be reserved for formal settings alone.

“It wasn’t clear if they would use them or not since Harry and Meghan have left the family as working royals and headed to the States,” TalkTV Royal Editor Sarah Hewson told Sky

Harry, Meghan
John Lamparski/Getty Images

“We understand discussions took place after the Queen’s funeral and it has been agreed that they will be known formally as prince and princess – although Harry and Meghan won’t be using it in everyday life.”

New royal titles might be about “branding,” experts claims

Harry and Meghan have been very outspoken about their life within the royal sphere. There remain those critics who argue their penchant for talking about the royals – take, for example, their Netflix, Spotify, and book deals – is simply so they can earn money.

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Sarah Hewson claims that the new titles for Archie and Lilibet might even financially benefit their parents. However, that is only speculation.

“You wouldn’t be wrong if you look at this and think about the branding,” she said. 

“When they said they wanted to distance themselves from the family, they wanted to have a private life, when Archie was born, I remember vividly being told they wanted him to be Master Archie, now he is Prince, and Lilibet is Princess,” Hewson added.

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