Claims that Queen was not asked about Lilibet name are ‘defamatory and false’, say Sussexes

·8-min read
The Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured together on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London in July 2018 - Matt Dunham/AP
The Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured together on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London in July 2018 - Matt Dunham/AP

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have accused the BBC of libel after the corporation claimed the Queen was not asked by the couple about naming their daughter Lilibet.

In an extraordinary escalation of the briefing war between Buckingham Palace and Harry and Meghan, the couple instructed lawyers to tell media organisations the BBC’s story was “false and defamatory”.

The BBC quoted a Palace source as saying Her Majesty was not asked for her permission to use her pet name of Lilibet for the Sussexes’ second child, who was born on Friday.

The Duke and Duchess raised eyebrows with their decision to use the Queen’s highly personal nickname, particularly in the wake of their repeated criticism of the Royal family in recent months.

The BBC began reporting claims that the couple had not sought the Queen’s blessing this morning, and shortly after 8am – 1am in California, where the couple live – media organisations were sent a letter by the Sussexes’ London solicitors warning them not to repeat the allegation.

While Palace sources are not denying the BBC story, a spokesman for the Sussexes insisted that the Duke did discuss his daughter’s name with his grandmother and would never have used it had she not been supportive.

But the BBC reported a Palace source as giving a different account of events, saying the Queen was "never asked" about its use.

The couple's spokesman told The Telegraph: "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. Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name."

Watch: The Sweet Meaning Behind Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Daughter's Name

It is not clear whether the conversation between Prince Harry and the Queen happened before the birth or between the birth and the announcement. 

After the Duke and Duchess returned home from the hospital, the Queen was introduced to her namesake on a video call, a source told People magazine, adding: "They were very excited and couldn't wait to share that their daughter arrived."

'Happy news' for Royal family after months of darkness

On Tuesday, the Prince of Wales described the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's daughter as "happy news".

Watch: Prince Charles hails arrival of fifth grandchild Lilibet 'such happy news'

Prince Charles became a grandfather for the fifth time following the birth of Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Duke and Duchess said it was a "very special time" and described the baby girl as "more than we could have ever imagined".

Lili, a sister for the Sussexes' two-year-old son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, was born at 11.40am on Friday June 4 at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California weighing in at 7lb 11oz.

Lilibet is the Royal family's pet name for the Queen and the choice pays tribute to the monarch at a challenging time for the Windsors, who are mourning the loss of the Duke of Edinburgh.

They have also faced heartbreak and division after the Sussexes, who quit as senior working royals last year, plunged the monarchy into crisis with their bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview (pictured below).

Duke and duchess
Duke and duchess

Harry made further controversial comments about his family in the subsequent weeks, and has also experienced a long-running rift with his brother William.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's official Twitter account posted a message saying: "We are all delighted by the happy news of the arrival of baby Lili. Congratulations to Harry, Meghan and Archie."

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall's account also welcomed "baby Lilibet Diana", adding: "Wishing them all well at this special time."

The monarchy's official Twitter account shared an image from Harry and Meghan's wedding day, celebrated the arrival, and noted that the baby was the Queen's 11th great-grandchild.

It also echoed an earlier statement from a Buckingham Palace spokesman, saying: "The Queen, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted with the news."

In a message of thanks on their Archewell website, Harry and Meghan said: "On June 4, we were blessed with the arrival of our daughter, Lili.

"She is more than we could have ever imagined, and we remain grateful for the love and prayers we've felt from across the globe.

"Thank you for your continued kindness and support during this very special time for our family."

The Sussexes' press secretary confirmed the baby had been named Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

She added: "Both mother and child are healthy and well, and settling in at home.

"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."

The long-awaited tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales

Harry had long been expected to honour his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a car crash when he was 12.

The couple's spokesman added: "The Duke and Duchess thank you for your warm wishes and prayers as they enjoy this special time as a family."

Harry and Meghan are now on parental leave, their website said.

They asked well-wishers to support organisations helping women - Girls Inc, Harvest Home, CAMFED or Myna Mahila Foundation - rather than send gifts.

The Sussexes live in California and amid troubled relationships with other royals, it is not known whether and when the new addition will meet the Queen and the rest of the family.

The Duke has accused his family of "total neglect" when Meghan was feeling suicidal amid harassment on social media.

Watch: Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry debut trailer for mental health TV series

In his Apple TV mental health series, he lambasted the parenting skills of the Prince of Wales, criticising his father for expecting his sons to endure the pressures of royal life, just as Charles has done, instead of protecting them.

Just as Archie was not entitled to be a prince or an HRH when he was born in 2018, the Sussexes' daughter is not permitted to be a princess or an HRH due to rules set down more than 100 years ago by George V.

Meghan controversially claimed during the Oprah broadcast that Archie had his right to be a prince taken away from him because of his race.

In fact, he was too far removed from the crown because although he is a great-grandchild of a sovereign, he is not the "eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales", as George V's rules required.

Will she be Princess Lilibet?

Lili will be entitled to be a princess and Archie a prince, both with HRH styles, after the death of the Queen and when Charles becomes king.

This is because they will have moved up the line of succession to become the children of a son of a monarch.

Despite Harry and Meghan quitting as senior working royals, the baby still has a place in the line of succession.

She is eighth in line to the throne, coming after Archie, who is seventh, and before the Duke of York, who has dropped to ninth.

duke and duchess - PA
duke and duchess - PA

The new baby is also a first cousin of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis and a fifth grandchild for Charles, but will grow up across the Atlantic, thousands of miles away from the Royal family.

Lili is the most senior royal in the line of succession to be born overseas and would be eligible to become president of the United States.

Sussexes' miscarriage heartache

Her arrival follows the heartache the couple suffered when the 39-year-old Duchess suffered a miscarriage in summer 2020.

In November, former Suits actress Meghan wrote in the New York Times: "I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second."

The Sussexes announced on Valentine's Day that they were expecting again, releasing a black and white photo of themselves sitting under a tree in Los Angeles (below).

Duke and Duchess
Duke and Duchess

Harry and Meghan stepped down as senior working royals in March 2020 in a quest for personal and financial freedom after struggling with royal life.

They have signed multi-million-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, and set up their Archewell Foundation.

If Harry keeps true to a pledge he made, their daughter will be their last child.

In 2019 he told activist and chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall that he would only have two children for the sake of the planet.

Home for the new family-of-four is Harry and Meghan's £11 million mansion in Montecito, California.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting