The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have threatened the BBC with legal action after the broadcaster published a story claiming the royal pair didn’t ask the Queen for permission to use her childhood nickname, Lilibet, for their daughter.
The BBC was issued with a defamation writ and demands for a retraction from Harry and Meghan’s London-based lawyers this week. The BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond reported on Wednesday (local time) that a palace source had confirmed the duke and duchess had not sought the Queen’s approval before announcing their baby daughter’s name, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.
The palace is yet to confirm or deny the report, which many royal commentators are taking as confirmation that the Queen was in fact not told about the name choice beforehand, but rather informed after Lilibet was born and Harry and Meghan were preparing their public announcement.
However, Harry and Meghan’s official spokesperson has rubbished the report and said they only decided on the name after getting the Queen’s approval.
“The Duke spoke with his family in advance of the announcement, in fact, his grandmother was the first family member he called,” they said.
“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.”
Whether or not the duke and duchess did seek the Queen’s approval, the name choice has certainly sparked conversation, particularly given Harry and Meghan’s testy relationship with the royal family of late.
Many say the choice of name was a sweet nod to the Queen, intentionally chosen as an olive branch to mend their fractured relationship after numerous attacks and controversial claims against the palace, while others say the use of the name is “demeaning”.
Her Majesty’s childhood nickname was given to her as a pet name by her father King George VI, and used only by him, her late husband Prince Philip and a few very close friends.
Journalist and royal biographer Angela Levin told Good Morning Britain the use of the “private” name was actually quite rude, particularly if they didn’t ask her permission as suggested.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea – I think it’s quite rude to Her Majesty her Queen,” she said. “It was a very private nickname from her husband who hasn’t been dead for very long.
“Prince Charles would never dream of calling his mother Lilibet. It was a special name, I think it’s quite demeaning, I really believe that.”
The BBC clash comes just months after Harry accepted an apology and “substantial damages” from the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online over claims he “turned his back” on the Royal Marines. Harry had launched the attack on the publications after two articles alleged he had not been in touch with the Marines after stepping down as a senior royal, allegations his lawyer called “baseless, false and defamatory”.
Earlier this year, Meghan won her own High Court case against The Mail on Sunday after a judge ruled the paper had breached her privacy by publishing an extract from a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle.