Royal gossip is such a crapshoot these days. You never know which part of any story, interview or narrative will blow up into some royal-commentator’s hissy fit. When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced the birth of their daughter on Sunday, the commentators were caught off-guard by the lack of leaks from Montecito and the lack of leaks from their palace sources. If palace aides in Kensington Palace, Clarence House and Buckingham Palace had known anything about the birth of Lilibet Diana, that would have been the front page of all the Sunday papers in the UK. So that became the bizarre focus – partially – of the royal rota in the days since. Why didn’t Harry inform palace aides? What did the Queen know and when did she know it? Did the Queen give her “permission” to use her nickname for baby Lilibet Diana?
Sources close to the Montecito palace (heh) have insisted that Harry informed his grandmother both of Lilibet Diana’s birth and her name. The royal rota doesn’t know what to do with that information, and neither do palace aides. I feel like there are people freaking out in Buckingham Palace at the thought of the Queen chatting with Harry regularly and not informing them about it. All of which leads to this story, from the BBC:
The Queen was not asked by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex about naming their daughter Lilibet, a Palace source has told the BBC. The source disputed reports in the wake of the announcement of the name that Prince Harry and Meghan had spoken to the Queen before the birth.
But a Sussexes’ spokesperson insisted they would not have used the name had the Queen not been supportive. They said the monarch was the first family member the duke had called. The spokesperson said: “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.”
Following Lilibet’s birth, it was widely presumed that Harry and Meghan had first spoken to the Queen about the choice of name. There were subsequent stories in the press quoting “friends” of the couple who strongly suggested that Harry had sought permission from his grandmother.
The Times also reported that it understood the Queen had been informed by Harry about the name. And a source close to the Sussexes also told the BBC that Harry had spoken to the Queen before the birth and “would have mentioned the name” – claims a Palace source has since disputed.
Just to recap, the Sussexes’ spokesperson is saying clearly and on the record that Harry spoke to his grandmother before and after Meghan gave birth, that the Queen knew about Lilibet Diana before the Sunday morning announcement, and that the Queen had been supportive (however explicitly or implicitly) of the use of her nickname. And an unnamed “palace source” is refuting the part about Lili Diana’s name. There’s an effort afoot to insist that Harry “blindsided” his grandmother about the name specifically. Because those palace sources can’t claim that Harry never called his grandmother, because A) they don’t know and B) they suspect it’s the truth and they’re mad that the Queen didn’t tell them. So they’re making it all about “Harry didn’t tell granny about the name.”
Omid makes a point:
Those close to Prince Harry confirm that he spoke to close family before the announcement so perhaps this report highlights just how far removed aides within the institution (who learned of the baby news alongside the rest of the world) now are from the Sussexes’ private matters.
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) June 9, 2021
Update: According to the Times of London, the Sussexes “issued a legal warning” against the BBC for this report. The Sussexes are saying it’s libelous to claim that they didn’t consult the Queen about Lilibet’s name, and they’re threatening to sue the BBC.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.