Princess Lilibet's Relationship With Her Royal Relatives Got Off To A Strained Start

Of all the heartaches involved with a family feud, perhaps the worst is the effect it can have on the youngest and most innocent members. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, stepped back from the royal family just a couple of years after their marriage. The family was baffled at first, then infuriated when the couple opened up about their troubles within the palace walls. The result: an estrangement from the senior royals that extends to Harry and Meghan's two young children. 

Despite their regal titles — they're officially Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet of Sussex — the children are getting anything but the royal treatment. Some of the distance is physical; with the two families living on different continents, it's not like Meghan can set up an impromptu after-school playdate with a little prince or duke. The busy lives of everyone involved are also a factor. For instance, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had previous engagements on Archie's christening day, but they had missed other baptisms in the past because of their schedules. Even so, a number of other incidents surrounding the little Sussexes — and Lilibet in particular — suggest it will be a while before they'll be truly welcomed into the royal fold.

Lilibet's name became a source of controversy

The birth of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's second child in June 2021 should have been a cause for unbridled celebration. Instead, their newborn daughter found herself in the middle of a controversy before she even took her first steps. The Sussexes wanted to honor Harry's beloved grandmother by naming their baby after her. Rather than going with the straightforward option of Elizabeth, however, they chose Lilibet, the queen's childhood nickname. How did Her Majesty feel about that? As the palace would say, "Recollections may vary." 

One source told the BBC the Sussexes didn't consult the queen before announcing the name, a claim Harry and Meghan's spokesperson firmly denied. In fact, the rep said, the monarch was the first person Harry called. "During that conversation, he shared their hope of naming their daughter Lilibet in her honor. Had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name." Yet another account claims Queen Elizabeth was misled about Lilibet's name. Interior designer Nicky Haslam dished to the Daily Mail that the queen thought her great-granddaughter would be dubbed Elizabeth, and was upset at having her very personal pet name commandeered by a new generation. 

That was just the beginning of the awkward relationship between the tiny princess and her royal relatives. Reportedly, Harry and Meghan invited then-Prince Charles, Prince William, and their wives to Lilibet's christening the following year, but they all declinedthe opportunity to meet their granddaughter and niece.

Did Harry and Meghan ghost the queen on Lili's birthday?

The late Queen Elizabeth was a devoted grandmother and great-grandmother who delighted in the time she spent with the palace's future generations. While she was fortunate enough to have met Prince Harry's children, sources disagree on the circumstances of her introduction to little Lilibet. The Sussexes brought their family to London in June 2022 to celebrate the queen's historic Platinum Jubilee. Shortly after their arrival, they met the monarch at Windsor Castle. One insider told Us Weekly, "[S]pending time with her great-grandchildren and seeing Lilibet turn 1 added some light to her day. She thinks they're adorable and gave Lili and Archie gifts." 

The following day was Lilibet's first birthday, and her parents held a small party at Frogmore Cottage to celebrate. But according to Paul Burrell, former butler to Princess Diana, the queen had made plans as well. He told The Mirror, "[O]n [Lilibet's] birthday, the Queen had a birthday cake made with one candle in it. And they never turned up. That candle was never lit." Burrell also claimed the monarch wanted to have Harry and Meghan over for tea the next day, but they had already jetted back to California without so much as a goodbye. Did they really ghost the queen twice? We may never know. Whatever the circumstances, that one meeting was Lilibet's only encounter with her namesake.

Will Archie and Lilibet ever get to know their royal relatives?

While the late queen apparently made her peace with Harry and his family, the same can't be said for Prince William. By all accounts, he has no interest in reconciling with his brother, even for the sake of their children. Royal biographer Christopher Andersen told Us Weekly, "William and Kate made no effort at all to introduce Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis to [Lili]" when the Sussexes came to London for the Jubilee, nor did they attend Lilibet's first birthday party. 

Rumor has it Meghan and the children may also be traveling to London with Harry in May as he commemorates the tenth anniversary of the Invictus Games. If so, it's likely they'll all pay a visit to King Charles so he can see his grandchildren. But while Harry and Meghan sent well wishes to Kate Middleton following the announcement of her cancer diagnosis, there's no chance of their paying a visit to the princess, according to palace expert Jennie Bond. She added to OK! Magazine (via The International News) that other family members may also be wary of interacting with the estranged royals. They'll have to consider "whether [Harry and Meghan] can be trusted, and whether renewing their friendship would be betraying their own loyalty to William and Catherine," she said. Sadly, it may be years before the young Sussexes will establish a bond with their relatives across the pond.