SARAH VINE: Isn't this the Lilibet Harry made out to be lousy mother?
Isn’t this the Lilibet that Harry made out to be a lousy mother? SARAH VINE asks if the Sussexes are paying a touching tribute or royally presumptuous after all their barbs
What’s in a name? Well, if you are eighth in line to the British throne, a great deal indeed. I always felt the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would choose Diana for their first daughter – after all, so much of Prince Harry’s life has been defined by the memory of his mother.
But what I – and I suspect many others – had not anticipated was the choice of the Queen’s childhood nickname, Lilibet.
On the surface of it, I can see the attraction. It is such a very pretty name, despite the fact it’s not a real one.
It conjures up images of a young Princess Elizabeth, of grainy black and white pictures of granny as a bonneted toddler, and of intimate family memories. It has fond connotations for all the royals, even more so perhaps since the Duke of Edinburgh passed away earlier this year – this was a nickname he used for the Queen.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are joined by her mother, Doria Ragland, when they introduced Archie to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh
But it is perhaps because Lilibet is such a very rare and special name that no other royal children have thought to use it.
Even if they had wanted to, they might well have felt – out of respect for Her Majesty – that it was overstepping an invisible line, presuming rather too much.
Not the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, though. As ever, they are not preoccupied with protocol and propriety, and the gesture has naturally won them plenty of praise from fans.
It is seen as a rapprochement, a ‘reaching out’, an ‘olive branch’ extended across the Atlantic to the folks back home – an emotional act of typical generosity by two people who, as ever, have been harshly judged by a cynical media.
So it is with some trepidation that I venture any criticism – after all, in certain quarters anything other than fawning praise for this pair is tantamount to blasphemy.
But 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.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m delighted at the new arrival. But one can be simultaneously happy for them and Archie, who now has a little sister, and utterly flabbergasted by the absolute cheek of it. Lilibet Diana? Seriously?
Sarah Vine says that while Harry and Meghan’s gesture may seem to be an olive branch, it strikes a fale note after recent ‘uncaring attacks on the Queen’
Quite apart from the strange juxtaposition of the two names – which in itself is an entire psychodrama – isn’t this Lilibet the same person who according to Prince Harry was a lousy mother to Prince Charles, and who passed on her lousy parenting skills to him so he in turn was a lousy father to Harry?
Isn’t this the same Lilibet who, so Harry and Meghan suggested in that Oprah Winfrey interview, presided over a bigoted, dysfunctional family of emotional pygmies?
The same Lilibet who allowed Diana to be frozen out, who failed to ensure Meghan was given the support she needed when she was struggling to cope with her royal role?
Harry and Meghan’s supporters have rushed to point out that the couple reportedly asked the Queen for permission to use Lilibet, and she approved. But she couldn’t exactly have said no, could she? Not without the fear of another TV interview in which she would no doubt be accused of snubbing them.
Given everything that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said and implied about the Queen over the past few months, you might have thought she was the last person they would want to name their precious baby daughter after.
Indeed if she was to be named after a relative, then surely Meghan’s own mother Doria, who as far as I can tell has been a constant and selfless source of strength to her daughter, might have been more appropriate.
Oprah, too, would have been a possibility given how the queen of interviews has been playing such a dramatic role in the couple’s lives.
But the actual Queen, this supposed villainess, this heart- less matriarch? Doesn’t it seem rather odd, not to mention more than a little opportunistic? Because, let’s be honest, all Harry and Meghan’s criticism of the royals hasn’t actually gone as well as they thought it would.
In fact, it’s fair to say there’s been a bit of a backlash.
Of course, they could have just openly and honestly apologised; but why do that when you can turn your misjudgements to strategic advantage?
Because Lilibet Diana, as a name, certainly has its benefits.
By calling their daughter after the Queen herself, and using the most intimate and private name by which she is known, they have ensured that however frosty and distant relations with the royals back home become, in the eyes of the public the association with the British Royal Family will never be forgotten.
Whatever the future now holds, the Queen will be forever a part of their lives. And, crucially, of Brand Sussex.
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