Daniela Elser: Harry and Meghan’s name for new baby contains a peculiar Kate connection


Hawke. Isla. Grace. Lucas. August.

Of the Queen’s now 11 great grandchildren, the troop of tots enjoys a veritable panoply of non-traditional first and second names proving that their parents, aka Her Majesty’s grandchildren, are nothing if not a creative and occasionally adventurous bunch.

Until yesterday.

In a co-ordinated media deployment with Buckingham Palace, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced the birth of their second child, daughter Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, recycling not one but two distinctly royal monikers.

Lilibet is, of course, the Queen’s nickname that dates back to when she was a toddler. (Her grandfather King George V is said to have begun affectionately calling her Lilibet, mimicking the little girl’s futile attempts to pronounce her own given name).

The ‘Diana’ hardly needs an explanation.

The Sussexes’ decision to co-opt the Queen’s lifelong, deeply personal epithet was always going to raise eyebrows – if not hackles – given that little Lili’s parents have spent much of this year very publicly denouncing the royal family whenever a microphone appeared in their vicinity.

Depending on your perspective, the surprising move can either be read as an attempt at a tender homage to Harry’s grandmother or a fairly blatant, self-serving ploy to get back into the palace’s good graces after the Sussexes’ recent anti-royal barrage. (Or maybe, both).

The couple’s confronting, if not perhaps sickly, choice here also looks like an attempt to tether their daughter to her dynastic inheritance, especially given the recent Oprah-centred drama over whether Archie will one day be made a prince.

(When Charles ascends to the throne, under the current Letters Patent all of his grandchildren will assume the title of either prince and princess. Whether that will come to pass when King Charles III is crowned remains to be seen given his commitment to a slimmed down version of the royal family).

But there is something else particularly curious going on here too and which involves none other than the Sussexes’ former Kensington Palace neighbours William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

See, in 2015, they too welcomed a daughter, naming her Charlotte Elizabeth Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. Harry and Meghan’s daughter’s full name is: Lilibet – a version of Elizabeth – Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

William and Kate call their second child Lottie. Harry and Meghan will call their second child Lili.

That William and Harry’s daughters’ appellations now bear more than a passing resemblance to one another is … peculiar.

So, what are we to make of the fact that both of Diana, Princess of Wales’ granddaughters now have very similar names? Touching homage to the Cambridges? Total accident? Befuddling tactical play?

Wherever the truth lies, yesterday’s news comes after years of sibling drama, with Harry and William having long since left devoted brotherly territory behind to become fully entrenched in a pernicious rift that has already launched a slew of biographies and kept the media in royal headlines since late 2018.

For nearly as long, Meghan and Kate have similarly found themselves pitched as blow-dried adversaries, constantly held up against one another. Their own fraught bond has also been the subject of frenzied coverage thanks in part to the ongoing “who made who cry?” plot line. (Meghan told Oprah that it was her sister-in-law who had left her in tears while reporting out of the UK has pegged the former actress as the culprit).

Given this history, it might have been expected that Harry and Meghan would in some way include a nod to his family. However, overall, they would steer a wide nomenclature berth away from anything with too much of a whiff of the palace, instead striking a far more stars ‘n stripes note, something which cast their daughter as the child of the land of opportunity.

But, no. They’ve strangely gone exclusively royal, proving once and for all the couple’s ability to shock and confound.

By giving their daughter something of an analogous name to her British cousin, Harry and Meghan may well have inextricably linked the two girls for life. Will they, therefore, as teenagers and adults, find themselves being ceaselessly, exhaustingly compared to one another in the years and decades to come?

This turn of events seems unlikely to tamp this feverish situation down.

What is also strange here is that while Harry’s royal relatives have garnered two nods via Lili’s appellation, Meghan’s beloved mother Doria Ragland has failed to get a guernsey.

Why Harry and Meghan didn’t just wodge another name in there to pay tribute to the only member of her family that the Duchess has any sort of relationship with is a mystery.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, or so the saying goes. Whether William and Kate would agree with that sentiment is another question entirely …

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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