The story of Lilibet: what the Queen's family nickname means and how it stuck

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle name their newborn daughter after her great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II

A young Princess Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace with her husband to be, Lieut Philip Mountbatten, and her sister, Princess Margaret. PA Images
A young Princess Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace with her husband to be, Lieut Philip Mountbatten, and her sister, Princess Margaret. PA Images

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has many titles around the world; Her Royal Highness, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. But to her nearest and dearest, she is simply Lilibet.

And it’s this touching moniker that her grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan Markle, chose for their new born daughter.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced the birth of their daughter Lilibet (Lili) Diana Mountbatten-Windsor on Sunday, two days after her arrival on Friday. The little girl’s middle name is a tribute to Prince Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana.

The tributes chosen for baby Lili’s name have delighted royal fans around the world, especially the personal touch of using the queen’s family nickname.

What is the story behind Lilibet?

Royal fans – or anyone who’s watched Netflix’s The Crown – will know that Lilibet was the queen's childhood nickname, but not many people will know why. It turns out the name stems from the queen herself. As a young girl, Elizabeth was not able to pronounce her name correctly, and adorably called herself Lilibet, an error that stuck.

The moniker was used by her father, King George VI, and her mother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, as well as her grandparents and younger sister, Princess Margaret. King George VI famously once famously said of his two girls: "Lilibet is my pride. Margaret is my joy."

The Queen also used the name as a young girl, and records of many childhood letters sent to family members and loved ones show her sign off as “Lilibet”.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mothe,r wearing her crown containing the Koh i Noor for the coronation of her husband King George VI of England. CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
A young Princess Elizabeth, second left, alongside Princess Margaret for the coronation of their father, King George VI of England. Corbis via Getty Images

Her husband, Prince Philip, who died in April, was also known to call his wife by the nickname, and, according to reports, the queen signed a note left on her husband’s casket from “Lilibet”.

He's thought to be the last person in her life to call her that, making the timing of baby Lilibet’s arrival all the more touching.

Paying royal tributes

It is a common theme among royals to name children after family members, although Harry and Meghan’s choice to adopt a nickname over an official name is an added personal touch.

An undated handout picture released by Kensington Palace on April 14, 2021 shows Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with their great grandchildren. Pictured (L-R) are Britain's Prince George of Cambridge, Britain's Prince Louis of Cambridge being held by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Savannah Phillips (standing at rear), Britain's Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Isla Phillips holding Lena Tindall, and Mia Tindall. (Photo by THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE / KENSINGTON PALACE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / KENSINGTON PALACE / DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - NO COMMERCIAL USE - RESTRICTED TO SUBSCRIPTION USE - STRICTLY NO SALES - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - NOT FOR USE AFTER DECEMBER 31, 2021. /
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with their great grandchildren Prince George, Prince Louis, Savannah Phillips, Princess Charlotte, Isla Phillips, Lena Tindall and Mia Tindall. AFP / Kensington Palace

Baby Lili shares a middle name with her cousin, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, who her father, Prince William, also named after his mother.

His eldest son, Prince George, who is third in line to the British throne, is named after his great-great grandfather, King George VI.

Princess Eugenie, who recently gave birth to her first child, August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, named him in tribute to his great-grandfather, Prince Philip.

Prince Harry’s son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, 2, meanwhile, has a middle name paying tribute to his father.

Updated: June 7, 2021 04:29 PM

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