Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s War With the Royals Hits Fever Pitch Over Lilibet
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The birth of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's child, many hoped would be a moment of reconciliation for the Sussexes and the Royals. What a fantastic notion to appear now after some of the bitterest open fighting this civil war has seen to date.
The final open battle culminated in Meghan and Harry threatening to sue the British media for reporting the Queen felt there was insufficient advice with her about using her nickname Lilibet as the child's and queen's first names got - through her official spokespersons - and said she wouldn't deny the BBC story.
Meghan and Harry threaten to name Lilibet because of the Palace briefing
Yes, the Queen took the side of a broadcaster through her grandson. The BBC was apparently so unimpressed by the attempted legal bullying, even by famously contentious Meghan and Harry, that they left their story and related tweets up.
Why shouldn't they? In an informal exchange, high-ranking palace aides made it clear to The Daily Beast that the "very specific" BBC story is right for them. It's simple: the queen felt that Harry and Meghan did not advise her to use Lilibet as her new baby's first name.
Given the royal mess, this is a hot event, and it could get a lot worse in the barely three weeks between now and the unveiling of a memorial to Princess Diana in London that Harry will attend.
That was already a potentially uncomfortable moment; it's probably double that now, because the reality on the ground is that not only did Harry and Meghan deny the Queen's version of events with a carefully worded statement (despite raising as many questions as she was asking), they got their lawyers involved.
Documentation viewed by The Daily Beast shows that Meghan and Harry argue that the claims made on behalf of the Queen against the BBC are "false and defamatory".
This means that Harry and Meghan are less than half a step away from accusing the queen of the liar. Obviously, the Sussexes are incredibly angry at how their daughter's birth has become tabloid fodder for the feud tale. Obviously, they feel that the queen's weirdos misrepresented their exchange. This carries a very real risk that in the next few days they could actually start informing US media friends and actively escalating hostilities.
To recap, the BBC went live at 6:30 am local time (10:30 pm in California) with its recap that said Harry and Meghan “did not advise the Queen about the use of her childhood nickname, Lilibet "Her baby ... a Buckingham Palace source says she was never asked about it."
The response from Harry and Meghan hurried out at midnight California time and read, "The Duke spoke to his family prior to the announcement, in fact his grandmother was the first family member he called. During this conversation he shared her hope to name her daughter Lilibet in her honor. If she hadn't supported them, they wouldn't have used the name. "
Harry and Meghan were clearly trying to suggest that the palace briefing (to BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond) was unreliable gossip that did not reflect the queen's true feelings.
Her preferred mouthpiece, author Omid Scobie, hinted at this line of scrimmage in a tweet: "Those close to Prince Harry confirm that he spoke to a close family prior to the announcement. who heard about the baby news along with the rest of the world) are now out of Sussex private affairs.
The chutzpah is noteworthy: Meghan and Harry's camp claim that Her Majesty's staff don't speak for them exactly, but they do. Cynics might say they are taking advantage of the Queen's famous unwillingness to explain too much or to complain.
If Dymond's story was the result of talking to a junior groom in Sandringham, Meghan and Harry could have been right. But the BBC is not in the habit of running its morning news with royal articles based on what was once disparagingly referred to as "servant stories".
Dymond, as anyone with any experience of the royal news beat would immediately recognize, was almost certainly the recipient of carefully planned and meticulously structured instruction from palace press officers, acting directly on orders from the private secretary and chief of the queen of the staff, Sir Edward Young, who has direct control of the press office.
Harry and Meghan have tried to distinguish between the Queen, her staff and the institution of the monarchy since officially opening hostilities against the royal family with their first explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey.
It has enabled them to label the monarchy and the nebulous "institution" as cold, heartless, ruthless, cruel - whatever - while also insisting that the Queen is a wonderful, warm person, inspiration and person, whom you love and respect deeply.
Diana did something similar, of course, and often spoke of the "men in gray" whom she portrayed as managing the day-to-day business of the monarchy without reference to the queen.
The reality is that this distinction is completely wrong (although it can sometimes provide useful cover for the queen). The Queen, like the head of any large multinational but family-owned organization, is responsible for what this huge multinational but family-owned organization actually does. The whole idea that there is some sort of shadowy parallel power structure operating independently of Her Majesty's will is nonsense and owes more than little to the Trumpist idea of the deep state.
There are no officials to order the Queen around within the walls of Buckingham Palace. Perhaps some of this happened when she inherited the throne at the age of 25, but that was largely at her own request. Now, 69 years later, there is almost no difference between the actions of the queen and the actions of the monarchy.
They are one and the same.
Which also means that if you offend one of them, you will offend the other.
It is of course absurd that with all of the really serious problems humanity is facing right now, the global newsfeeds are dominated by stories of murderous snipers among a bunch of overprivileged and enormously wealthy members of a British family.
Dear Prince Edward may have spent Thursday complaining that "we have all become overly intrusive and attentive in our lives," but the royals are solely responsible for this. After spending the last millennium trying to convince the world of their importance, they can now barely berate the world for drinking deeply of the royal Kool-Aid.
Yet there was also much truth in Edward's comment when asked about the hostility to the Sussexes: "It's hard for everyone, but families are for you."
In fact it is. Anyone who hasn't had a heated argument with a family member is likely not talking to them enough.
In three weeks time, we'll see if the other great truth about families - that blood is thicker than water, that people can forgive their family members much more than the rest of us - is just as obvious.
If so, then two brothers will stand side by side honoring their mother without the occasion being completely overshadowed by a bizarre argument about their granddaughter's name.
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In this article:
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
The younger son of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales
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