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Harry and Meghan's choice of 'Lilibet Diana' loaded with significance

"I think that a lot of people are saying, quite rightly, that this is a form of olive branch to the royal family," historian Andrew Roberts said.
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LONDON — Royal baby names have an important job: to boost the brand and carry tradition into a new generation.

The latest royal baby, the daughter of Prince Harry and Meghan, boasts her own royal names, but with a twist.

Lilibet Diana, born Friday morning in California, was named after her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, as well as her paternal grandmother, Diana, the Princess of Wales.

Lilibet is the queen's nickname used by her family, including her husband, Prince Philip, who passed away in April after 73 years of marriage. Old family letters show the queen signing her name with the moniker, and a diary entry by her grandmother in the 1940s referred to her as Lilibet. It’s also the name that she signed the card she placed on Philip’s coffin, according to the historian Andrew Roberts.

Image: Princess Diana with her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry
Princess Diana with her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, at Wetherby School.Tim Graham / Getty Images file

Harry and Meghan’s daughter’s middle name, Diana, “was chosen to honor her beloved late grandmother, The Princess of Wales.” Diana was killed in a car accident in August 1997 and would have turned 60 this year.

Diana looms large over the current royals, and this latest arrival, who will be known as Lili, isn't the only one of the queen's great-grandchildren to be named after both Elizabeth and Diana. The full name of Prince William's daughter Charlotte, 6, is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

Harry recently spoke in detail about the impact his mother’s death had on his mental health in "The Me You Can't See," an Apple TV+ documentary series executive produced by both Harry and the media mogul Oprah Winfrey that aired last month.

He said that through therapy he was able to come to terms with his feelings and that he now felt closer to Diana than ever.

“My mom would be incredibly proud of me. I’m living the life she wanted to live for herself,” Harry said of his new life outside the royal family in the documentary. “I’ve never felt her presence more as I have done over the past year.”

He also said that he had a photo of Diana in his son’s room and that one of Archie's first words were “Grandma Diana.”

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Harry and Meghan stepped down from their roles as senior royals last year and now live in California, and Lili's birth comes as relations between the couple and the royal family are at a low point.

In March, Harry and Meghan sat down with Winfrey for a tell-all interview on their decision to step back from their roles. The couple also discussed Meghan’s suicidal thoughts, and racism in the United Kingdom.

“I think that a lot of people are saying, quite rightly, that this is a form of olive branch to the royal family,” Roberts said. “It's obviously an honor, and it's something that is, as well as that, a message, I hope at least, that the events of the spring are all behind them.”

Harry and Meghan have not yet released a photo of their new addition, but Roberts expects that it may not be too long before they introduce her to the royal family.

“I think the Sussexes will very much want to have a group photograph of Lilibet with her great grandmother,” he said. “That will be a photo, you know, to keep for the rest of their lives and something that will matter to them, and so with the queen in her mid-90s, I think that will happen sooner rather than later.”

Lili's last name is Mountbatten-Windsor, the official last name of the queen and Philip’s descendants.

Image: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, on March 8.Misan Harriman/The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Getty Images file

Windsor was first adopted by the queen’s grandfather in 1917, after he changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha because of anti-German feeling after World War I. Mountbatten, meanwhile, is the name that Philip used when he was in the Royal Navy.

In 1960, the queen and Philip decided that Mountbatten-Windsor would be the last name used for their children and grandchildren.

It appeared for the first time on an official document 13 years later when Princess Anne, the queen’s daughter, married Capt. Mark Philips and used the name Mountbatten-Windsor on the marriage register.

By royal standards, Lili has a short name. Harry has four names, Harry Charles Albert David, as does his brother, William, whose full name is William Arthur Philip Louis.

William’s children sport three names each, while Harry and Meghan’s firstborn has only two names, Archie Harrison.

Harry and Meghan first announced that they were expecting their second child on Valentine’s Day in a social media post and revealed it was a girl during their interview with Winfrey in March.

After Lili’s birth announcement, other members of the royal family posted congratulatory messages to Harry and Meghan on their social media.

“Congratulations dear cousins.. we couldn’t be happier for you all!” wrote Princess Eugenie, Harry’s first cousin.

William also posted a photo of Harry, Meghan and Archie on their Instagram page, saying that they “are all delighted by the happy news of the arrival of baby Lili.”