When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle named their son Archie Harrison – no ‘Archibald’, no long strings of historical names nodding to ancestors (or grandparents) – I crowed that they had chosen a name that was overtly about giving Archie his own life, his own path, unencumbered by the albatross of royal obligation. It was so unusual, at the time, that it changed the expectations for what their girl could be called, and given the tumultuous years since Archie was born, no speculation was too out of the box.
What they chose, though, made it clear that they’re now playing a different game.
Lilibet Diana, to be called Lili, is an overt, literal nod to Lili’s royal roots. Not only is Lilibet a variation on Elizabeth, it’s the variation that Queen Elizabeth II, Lili’s great-grandmother, was called when she was young – notably, before she was ever slated to be queen.
So. Not only is it traditional, in the sense of reminding people constantly about this baby’s heritage, whether it’s acknowledged by the palace or paid security or not, it’s also got significant overlap with Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, Prince William and Catherine’s six-year-old daughter, afforded all the royal acknowledgements and privileges.
It’s obviously a pointed choice, and the question is, pointed toward – or for – whom? Is this an earnest, affectionate nod to ‘Gran’, the woman who, by all accounts, both Harry and Meghan still feel quite affectionate towards, and a reminder to her of her own childhood? Is it to remind Lili herself, the baby born in the United States, of a family heritage she may never fully understand, given that royal portraits and honours are almost certainly in the past?
Or, another option, is this a low-key power move? A significant fraction of letters I received about names were about litigating which names were off-limits because a family member had already chosen them – is the ‘Elizabeth Diana’ combination a thumbed-nose at William and Kate: “We’re not so different from you”?
It’s clearly a continued message from Harry & Meghan – if you thought they were going to go quietly into a low-key LA life, you’re most certainly mistaken. There’s no headline coming from this name they didn’t see coming, and that’s part of the legacy they’re building for their daughter, from the very moment of her birth.