Harry and Meghan infuriated queen with claims about naming their daughter Lilibet, new book says

Harry and Meghan infuriated queen with claims about naming their daughter Lilibet, new book says

A new royal biography asserts that Queen Elizabeth II was infuriated when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle claimed that she had given them her “blessing” to name their daughter Lilibet, her private childhood nickname that was only ever used by her parents, sister and husband, a new book reveals.

One member of her staff recalled that the queen was “as angry as I’d ever seen her” after her grandson and his wife issued a public statement, saying they would have not used her nickname if she had not been “supportive,” writes author Robert Hardman, in a new book, “Charles III: New King, New Court. The Inside Story.”

But according to Hardman’s book, which is being serialized in the Daily Mail, and a BBC report at the time, the queen was not supportive. On the contrary, she was never consulted about the use of Lilibet and may have felt backed into a corner and asked to effectively rubber stamp the choice, Hardman says in the new book, according to the Daily Mail.

The California-based Duke and Duchess of Sussex sparked yet another royal row after their daughter was born in June 2021. They announced they were calling her Lilibet Diana, a name that would seem to honor both the queen, who died in 2022, and Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana.

But the use of Lilibet immediately raised eyebrows because of its deeply personal connotations for the queen. She was given the nickname because, as a small child, she could not pronounce her own name property. It was only used by her father, King George VI, the Queen Mother and her sister, Princess Margaret, as well as her husband, Prince Philip, and a handful of close friends.

At the time, the queen and other senior royal family members publicly expressed their delight at the news of Lilibet’s birth. Behind the scenes, however, the queen was angry and upset about how Harry and Meghan depicted the name choice, according to Hardman’s book. The couple’s critics also wondered if the name choice was an attention-seeking move.

Almost immediately, the BBC cited a palace source in reporting that the queen was “never asked” by the Sussexes if they could use Lilibet. The BBC report aligned with reports in The Times and the Daily Mail that said the queen had merely been “informed” about the name choice, rather than having had her permission explicitly sought. She felt she wasn’t in a position to say no.

Harry and Meghan responded to questions about their daughter’s name by having their spokesperson issue a statement, saying they would not have used Lilibet had the queen not been “supportive.” They said at the time: “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,” the statement said. “Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name.”

The Sussexes also appeared to have “sources” leak information to friendly American media about their interactions with the queen. For example, People reported that the couple introduced their newborn daughter to the queen via a video call shortly after her birth and shared the baby’s name with the queen ahead of her birth. Meanwhile, Page Six, also citing unnamed sources, said that “Harry called the queen for permission to name his daughter Lilibet.”

Harry and Meghan escalated the already tense situation by getting their lawyers involved, alleging that the BBC’s report was “false and defamatory” and threatening legal action.

However, the BBC stood by its story, countering Harry and Meghan’s suggestion that the BBC report was unreliable gossip and that the queen’s aides didn’t speak for her, The Daily Beast’s royal reporter Tom Sykes wrote at the time. The fact that a palace source offered this viewpoint to the BBC, U.K.’s national broadcaster, indicated that the source was in fact speaking for the queen and reflecting her true feelings, Sykes wrote.

With Harry and Meghan threatening legal action, this left “Harry and Meghan less than half a step away from accusing the queen of being a liar,” Sykes added.

Hardman’s book confirms reporting that the queen was blindsided by the Lilibet naming. When the Sussexes attempted to “co-opt” Buckingham Palace into going along with their version of events, they were “rebuffed,” Hardman wrote.

Indeed, the Mail on Sunday reported at the time that queen issued instructions to her courtiers to henceforth “correct any statements which misrepresent her private conversations or those other senior royals.” These instructions meant that the royal dictate of “never complain, never explain” was abandoned, at least with regards to this particular dispute with Harry and Meghan, the Daily Beast said.

“Once again, it was a case of ‘recollections may vary’ — the late queen’s reaction to the Oprah Winfrey interview – as far as Her Majesty was concerned,” Hardman wrote. He also said, “Those noisy threats of legal action duly evaporated and the libel actions against the BBC never materialized.”

Hardman also observed that Harry didn’t try to offer his version of the Lilibet naming controversy in his 2023 memoir “Spare.” The late queen’s household was interested to see there was no mention of this controversy in his memoir, when he had no problem sharing “a wealth” of other private family information and criticism of royal aides.