They became a family of four with the arrival of Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor earlier this month – but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s choice of name for their newborn has ignited yet more controversy.
After announcing their daughter’s name was a tribute to Harry’s grandmother the Queen – who was nicknamed Lilibet as a child by her family, and later by her late husband, Prince Philip – there was both an outpouring of praise and a fierce backlash.
While many fans were delighted at the tribute, others expressed their disbelief and anger at the couple’s decision to adopt the private nickname, given their recent scathing comments about members of the royal family and Palace life, plus their decision to step down from “The Firm” last year.
One commentator gushed, “It’s a lovely name and a wonderful tribute to two very special women, good on them!” But others were outraged with the decision.
Referring to Harry, 36, and Meghan’s damning interviews over the last few months – where they have made claims that a royal had been racist towards their unborn child and insisted Meghan was refused support when she was suicidal – one wrote, “It’s totally hypocritical of these two to give their daughter this name after all the criticism of the Queen and other members of the RF.”
Last week, there were conflicting reports over whether the Queen had even been informed of the baby’s name before it was announced. While a Palace source told the BBC the Queen hadn’t been told, Harry and Meghan immediately responded, saying that was not correct. And friend of the couple, Omid Scobie, insisted Harry and Meghan, 39, did seek the Monarch’s approval first, saying, “Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name.”
A furious Harry threated to sue the BBC if it continued to repeat the allegation that the Queen had not been told.
But former royal butler Paul Burrell tells Closer he would not have expected the Queen to have approved, given what the pet name means to her.
Paul, 63 – who at one point worked as a footman for Her Majesty – says, “I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard the baby’s name. Having worked alongside the Queen for over a decade, I know just how deeply personal, private and precious that name is to her. No one would dare refer to her as that – it was only for those closest to her. I know Harry has said the Queen did approve – but that totally surprises me. I don’t doubt Harry and Meghan both believe it’s a tremendous tribute to her. But I know it’s such an intimate name and not one that she’d ever want to be used generally. I think it’s very inappropriate.”
Throughout her romance with Harry and the subsequent controversies that have shrouded her time in the royals, Meghan has only had one family member by her side – her beloved mother Doria – with her father Thomas Markle and half-sibling Samantha now totally cut out of her life. Doria has been a constant in Meghan’s life and was the only family member to attend her wedding in 2018, reportedly staying with the couple in the weeks and months after the birth of son Archie to help out, as well as now to help take care of Lilibet.
And Paul is equally shocked at the omission of a tribute to Doria in their daughter’s name. He says, “Where’s Doria? Poor Doria! I feel sorry for her – she seems to have been elbowed out of the picture, despite her being Meghan’s main ally and her rock. I honestly don’t think Doria was commercial enough for them – Lilibet and Diana have immediate association, but Doria doesn’t. I thought it was very odd they didn’t pay tribute to her. They have spent time criticising Harry’s family – yet name their daughter after the head of it.”
Check out: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's relationship from the start
July 2016: Meghan And Harry Meet
So when did the future Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were introduced by a mutual friend in July 2016, originally thought to be Markus Anderson (also the director of Soho house) but who was later confirmed to be Violet von Westenholz. Meghan said in an interview that before she met the Harry she didn't know much about him 'the only thing that I had asked [our mutual friend] was, 'Well is he nice?'. According to Harry he knew Meghan was The One from 'the very first time we met.' after only two dates Harry asked Meghan to accompany him on a trip to Botswana.
Since moving overseas in March 2020, Harry has returned to the UK to see his family just once – in April for his late grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral – and fans breathed a sigh of relief as they watched him interact with his brother Prince William and his wife Kate.
Speaking on his mental health docuseries The Me You Can’t See – which he produced with Oprah Winfrey – Harry revealed that returning to the UK was a “trigger” for his mental health. He explained he always felt “worried, concerned, a little bit tense and uptight” whenever he flew back to the UK and, more specifically, London.
But he’s due to return to the UK in July this year for the unveiling of his late mother Princess Diana’s statue at Kensington Palace, to mark what would have been her 60th birthday.
WATCH: Danielle Lloyd on the moment she realised husband Michael was The One | My First Times
Last week, it emerged that Harry still intends to be there – but Paul doesn’t believe that Meghan and the children will also be in tow.
He says, “Harry has to be there for the unveiling – he just has to and I don’t think he’d miss it. But Meghan won’t – I think she’ll say that it’s too soon after she’s given birth. And Harry wouldn’t bring Archie on his own.
“It’s a heartbreaking situation with so much sadness, but I really doubt the Queen will ever meet little Lilibet. In fact, I doubt there’ll be any relationship between the Queen and Harry’s children. There are video calls, but it’s not the same. The Queen only met Archie a handful of times and I don’t think there’ll be many – if any – more sadly. It will sadden her, as she prides herself on her role as a grandmother and great grandmother.”
As controversy continues to shroud the couple, last week Prince Edward – youngest son of the Queen – refused to comment on them during an interview, saying, “I stay way out of it. It’s much the safest place to be.”
And Paul says that he believes much of the royal family want the feud to end, adding, “I think the royals are all thinking, ‘Whatever will it be next?’ They are bracing themselves for the next bombshell to come. Harry and Meghan seem to be like a volcano – what will be next to erupt? I don’t know when it’ll stop, but I really hope he comes to his senses soon.”
Get the best celeb interviews in Closer magazine each week.