Harry & Meghan Plan to Break This Royal Tradition With Lilibet, Say Sources
"From that point, it was going to be their rules and their way," an insider said.
There is no doubt that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's decision to decamp from the U.K. and start a new life in California will have a profound effect on how they raise their children, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor and Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. Two-year-old Archie already attends preschool and was seen enjoying the beach in a short video clip released by his parents. But Lilibet, who was born on June 4 of this year, has yet to make her public debut (except for the quick glimpse eagle-eyed royal watchers noticed in a photo on the duchess's desk in her latest Archewell video).
"Harry and Meghan have always done things their way, and that applies to what they want for their children," an insider told Best Life. "While both Archie and Lilibet were born royal, their earliest months have been quite different."
That includes an important royal tradition Harry and Meghan reportedly plan to break with Lilibet soon, which could further distance them from the rest of the Royal Family. Read on to find out what it is.
Lilibet's formal introduction into the Royal Family will differ greatly from Archie's.
Archie, who was born on May 6, 2019, was christened two months later at a private chapel near Windsor Castle in July 2019. But his baby sister Lili (her nickname given to her by her parents) came into the world in California at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, a few miles from Meghan and Harry's Montecito mansion. Both children hold dual citizenship because Meghan was born in California and Harry in England.
In recent weeks, there have been reports Harry and Meghan wanted Lili to be christened at Windsor just as their son was. They also reportedly wanted the ceremony to take place in front of Queen Elizabeth. Now, some royal sources are dismissing the idea that the Sussexes will fly back to England for a traditional royal ceremony and will opt instead to have a christening for Lilibet in California.
In an interview with The Express, royals commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said that despite earlier reports to the contrary, "it seems certain that [Lilibet's] christening will be in Meghan's home state and with the secrecy but without the controversy that surrounded Archie's christening."
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Harry and Meghan have "no obligation" to share details or photos from events in their private life, an insider said.
When the duke and duchess settled in California and informed the Queen they would not be returning to royal life, they effectively severed ties with "The Firm" and were able to secure the financial independence they'd been seeking since stepping down as senior royals. Having paid back the taxpayer money spent to renovate Frogmore Cottage as their U.K. home base, the couple is under "no obligation to follow the royal rule book any longer," an inside source told Best Life. "From that point, it was going to be their rules and their way."
Harry and Meghan were roundly criticized for the secrecy surrounding Archie's birth and christening. They blocked the public from seeing the family on the traditional walk to church (as Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, have done at the christenings of their three children) and they chose not to release the name of their son's godparents. Their 25 unnamed guests entered the chapel through a back entrance so as not to reveal their identities and there was no press pool on the day, just the stylized black and white photo released by the couple along with a family photo of the attendees including Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland; Princess Diana's two sisters, Baroness Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale; Prince Charles; and William and Kate.
It did little for the duke and duchess's relationship with the media in Britain, said Fitzwilliams. "Harry and Meghan's relations with the British press went badly downhill when Archie was christened in private and the names of the godparents were not released," he told The Express.
No date has been announced for Lilibet's christening thus far, and Harry and Meghan have yet to release an official photo of her, which again shows that the couple is "acting on their own terms," Fitzwilliams said.
The Queen did not attend Archie's christening and she will likely not attend Lilibet's if it is held in California.
The Queen did not attend Archie's christening and it is unlikely she'll make the trip to America if Lilibet is christened in California, a source told Best Life. "The Queen has not traveled internationally for many years and the logistics of securing the appropriate place for Her Majesty to stay during a stateside visit while not on official business for the Crown could be problematic." The source continued: "She has yet to meet her namesake great grandchild in person having only seen her on video calls. It would be a shame if she is deprived of the opportunity to attend the christening, but it appears things are heading in that direction."
Despite Her Majesty's reportedly close relationship with Meghan and her special bond with Harry, the couple allegedly failed to give the Queen adequate notice of when Archie's christening was taking place in 2019. Because of a prior engagement, she was not able to be there for her great grandson's christening.
Royal biographer Angela Levin told the Daily Mail that Prince Harry would be putting Her Majesty in a "difficult position" by expecting her to attend Lilibet's christening. Levin also said the Queen isn't always present at christenings because "they're not close enough to the Crown."
Harry and Meghan may be trying to distance themselves from the Royal Family right now due to the Prince Andrew lawsuit.
In addition to it being a highly contentious year between the Sussexes and the Royal Family, the news of the lawsuit against Prince Andrew has only intensified the media spotlight on the royals. Meghan's activism for the rights of women and girls along with Harry's desire to remain distant from the scandal could make this a difficult time to be reuniting with the family. "They would inevitably be asked questions about Andrew in subsequent interviews, which could lead to some very uncomfortable moments," one source told Best Life.
But the simmering rift between the Sussexes and the royals could be reason enough for them to not have the christening for Lilibet in England. "It seems impossible to imagine Prince Charles and Harry could be in the same room right now," a royal insider said. "Chances are this will be a very different kind of christening for Lilibet in California. There's just too much family tension at the moment."