Dad names his child after his nana. World goes wild.

Picture of Prince Harry (right), a white man with a short, reddish beard and hair, in a grey suit with a blue tie, next to his wife Meghan, a mixed-race woman wearing a brown beret and a beige jacket. There is greenery behind them.
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Sandringham, 2017

Last week Prince Harry’s and his wife Meghan’s second child was born, and they named her Lilibet Diana. The second name refers to Harry’s mother; the first to his grandmother, the Queen. The name is a mangling of Elizabeth which she came out with as a toddler, and it stuck, and anyone who called her by a name called her that. The last of these people may have been Prince Philip who died earlier this year. While some people I know thought the name was quite sweet, others (as in, newspaper columnists) accuse Harry of being disrespectful to the Queen and stories appeared in the news (including on the BBC midday news) suggesting that she had not been consulted, as if this was one of the four or five most important stories on the midday news. Any bit of royal gossip becomes news in this country (this was where Prince Philip’s death was announced with all broadcasts cut off mid-song or mid-sentence as if the world was about to end, for example), but people seem to forget what the royal family is, besides being an institution.

The royal family is, first and foremost, a family. The Queen is Prince Harry’s grandmother. Prince Harry grew up with her and heard her husband and mother call her Lilibet all his life. He knew her, the person, before he knew she was Queen or what that meant; most of us know her only as the Queen and if we’ve met her, we’d have called her Her Majesty. Of course, he will not have called her Lilibet himself, but some children will say Grandma this or Grandma that to distinguish one from another, especially if they have multiple living great-grandparents as well as grandparents; my niece called our grandmother Nanny Georgie (her real name was Georgina and our grandad called her Jean) during the three years they had with each other. Harry is not some Johnny-come-lately who somehow gained the family’s affections; he is part of it. He could, of course, have called his daughter Elizabeth, but that’s a fairly common name and there are lots of Lizzies and Bettys around but until last week, as far as anyone knows, only one Lilibet. By calling his daughter Lilibet, he makes it clear who exactly she is named after.

I suspect that if Harry had waited until the Queen had died to use that name, people would have thought it was a wonderful tribute although perhaps the same people making shows of ‘loyalty’ to the family (while working for the same newspapers that hounded Princess Diana) would have carped just as they are now. However, it may be that Meghan may not be able to keep producing children and even if they have one more, it might not be a girl. The name has not been widely known of although it has been mentioned from time to time, such as when the Queen left flowers for her late mother after she died, but it might gain popularity now. I suspect people feel offended at the fact that the Queen’s pet name is now someone’s actual name which they might have to actually use, but so what? It’s her name, while the Queen’s name remains Elizabeth. Prince Harry is keeping his childhood memories alive, while honouring the grandmother he knows rather the Queen the rest of us think we know. What on earth is wrong with that?

Image source: Mark Jones. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence.

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