Prince Harry and his wife Meghan announced Wednesday that their daughter had been christened in a private ceremony in California, publicly calling her a princess and revealing for the first time that they will use royal titles for their children.
Princess Lilibet Diana, who turns two in June, was baptized on Friday by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the Rev John Taylor, Harry and Meghan said in a statement. Lilibet’s title and that of her brother, Archie, who will be four in May, will be updated on the Buckingham Palace website later.
The announcement marked the first time that the children’s titles had been used in public.
The question of the children’s titles took centre stage two years ago during Harry and Meghan’s television interview with Oprah Winfrey. Meghan, who is biracial, said that when she was pregnant with Archie “they” – presumably the palace – “were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince which would be different from protocol.”
Meghan suggested that this was because Archie was the royal family’s “first member of colour” and would have marked the first time a royal grandchild wasn’t given the same title as the other grandchildren.
At the time, royal experts said Meghan’s comments appeared to be based on a misunderstanding of the way royal titles are conferred.
Titles are conferred in line with a decree issued by King George V in 1917 that limits the titles of prince and princess to the male-line grandchildren of the sovereign.
As long as the late Queen Elizabeth II was alive, Harry and his older brother, Prince William, were the sovereign’s grandchildren. Harry and William’s children, as great grandchildren, didn’t receive the titles automatically.
But Elizabeth had the power to amend the rules, and in 2012 she decreed that the children of Prince William and his wife, Catherine, would be princes and princesses. This decree didn’t apply to Harry and Meghan.
However, the situation changed when King Charles III ascended the throne on the death of his mother last September. William and Harry are the king’s sons, meaning their offspring are now royal grandchildren and so entitled to be known as prince and princess.
Nonetheless, they have remained a plain “master” and “miss” on the Buckingham Palace website for the past six months.