The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are threatening the BBC with legal action in response to claims the Queen was not consulted in advance of the royal couple giving her family nickname, Lilibet, to their daughter, born last week.
The announcement of the child’s name drew a mixed response with a royal biographer branding it “rude”. Speculation quickly mounted on whether the Queen herself had been consulted, as her nickname, while known, is widely recognised as private. The Queen would sign personal notes with “Lilibet”. The late Duke of Edinburgh used it, but few others.
The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond reported that “a good palace source” was “absolutely adamant” the Queen had not approached.
The Sussexes wasted no time responding, first releasing a statement countering Dymond’s assertion, before bringing in their lawyers.
“The Duke spoke with his family in advance of the announcement – in fact, his grandmother was the first family member he called,” said a spokesperson.
“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.”
The BBC itself reports that a letter distributed to media outlets – although not perhaps the broadcaster itself – from the couple’s law firm, Schillings states Dymond’s claims were “false and defamatory” and should not be repeated.
Meghan and Harry are well known for firing off complaints and threatening litigation. Both have successfully sued the Daily Mail. The Duchess famously took on the paper for a breach of privacy over the publication of letters sent to her now estranged father, Thomas.
Soon after fierce Meghan critic Piers Morgan left Good Morning Britain it emerged the Duchess had complained about his rants against her. The outspoken broadcaster left the show after ITV bosses demanded a public apology. Morgan refused and walked.
The couple’s threat of litigation, even if it is against the much-maligned BBC, is likely to drag them further down in the British public’s estimations of them.
“Is there nothing Harry and Meghan do that doesn’t involve a row? How desperately sad that even something so uplifting as the birth of their new baby is accompanied by thundering controversy,” wrote columnist Richard Kay.
“Even allowing for the couple’s inflated sense of grievance that their every action is wilfully misconstrued, there was something intensely unedifying about this latest incendiary development – not least the fact of the timing,” Kay later added.
“For it has come on the eve of what would have been Prince Philip’s 100th birthday, a moment of deep personal reflection for the Queen who, just nine weeks after his death, is still grieving the husband who was her ‘strength and stay’.”