You Lilibet they’re Diana to be weird: She’s days old and already hacks are judging Harry and Meghan’s daughter

Meanwhile Andrew Marr is being paid handsomely to write Diana fanfic.

Just being born or being long dead is no protection from the oddity of the British media, especially if you’re royal…

In The Sunday Times yesterday, haunted toby jug Andrew Marr contributed an essay, Diana at 60: the legacy of a princess, which was less a reflection on the actual legacy of a woman who has been dead for nearly 25 years and more a piece of speculative fanfiction. I will only quote lightly from it as a full hazmat suit is required to deal with the levels of cringe present in the whole article.

After an introduction that is a fair warning as to the horrors to come…

She stares back at us, frozen in time. Had she survived to see her seventh decade, what would her life, and the lives of her sons, have looked like in the Britain she changed for ever?

… Marr stepped into the delusional DeLorean of his mind and motored towards an imagined present where Diana is still alive and…

a style icon still, for sure, leading the way… in urban leisurewear.

… as a trustee of the British Museum, she oversees the formal handover of the Elgin marbles after her highly personal behind-the-scenes campaign, which has divided the institution in two. As patron of Mind, she becomes a highly respected and vocal campaigner on mental health.

Her third marriage, in Santa Barbara, of course causes great controversy in the British press. She is widely celebrated by campaigners for gender fluidity. But by her later fifties, she has become partly reconciled to Charles, vehemently agreeing with him on the environment and photographed laughing uproariously with Camilla at the races.

Marr’s imaginings continue for a further thousand words or so. I accidentally typed ‘years’ when I was first writing this sentence and, though factually incorrect, it feels spiritually correct.

He presumes to tell us how she would have felt about The Crown (“[It] would have horrified her…”) and daydreams about the alternate history where Diana is a social media star (“We can try to imagine Diana on TikTok, and guess how many million followers she would have on Instagram…”)

If The Sunday Times had wanted to seriously offer up some imagined Diana antics that weren’t laughable in their conceit and construction, the many thousands of authors at the internet’s glittering temple of fan fiction art, Archive of Our Own, were there waiting for its call.

Instead, they let the bullshitting Beeb man have a stab purely to promote his book Elizabethans: How Modern Britain Was Forged once again.

Still, we should be glad that print deadlines precluded Marr from offering his musings on the birth of Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor quite yet. The store of sour, surreal, and downright sinister analysis of a girl who is just days old has already started to overflow.

At The Daily Telegraph, that redoubt of reactionary royalists, their faces covered with drool in anticipation of the next opportunity to rant about the Sussexes, has only just started its blanket coverage of the baby’s arrival.

The first version of its news story on the birth (since updated with much more ‘information’), while largely straight, came with this acid drop conclusion:

The birth is the third this year for the Royal family and will come as welcome news following the Duke of Edinburgh’s death in April.

However, those first cuddles might have to wait. The family has not seen Archie since the Sussexes left the UK for Canada in autumn 2019.

The little matter of a global pandemic curtailing most travel goes unmentioned.

The first salvos from its columnists/analysts are a piece on second children of second royal children by the author of a biography of the Queen, Matthew Dennison — What becomes of the 'spare's spare'? — and Celia Walden with a sneering speculative assessment of what ‘woke’ and ‘woo woo’ child-rearing practices Harry and Meghan might opt for in LA.

Beneath the headline So, what does Lili’s La La-tastic first year look like?, Walden writes, leaning heavily on the insights of Lisa Gaché author of Beverly Hills Manners: Golden Rules from the World’s Most Glamorous Zip Code, that:

… she’s come into the world under very different circumstances to the royal births we’re used to witnessing in the UK.

Emphasis on “witnessing”. Not for Meghan the gruelling new mum press hazing Princess Diana, the Duchess of York and the Duchess of Cambridge were forced to go through as they posed for their photo-calls outside the Portland’s Lindo Wing hours after giving birth.

There’s a not-so-subtle suggestion here that Meghan (and Harry) have once again refused to keep up their part of the ‘deal’ in preventing the press from truly feasting on the news of the baby’s birth. Why isn’t she stood outside the hospital pretending to be winsome and dewy like the Duchess of Cambridge did?

While the rest of the article is just wild speculation based on the word of one LA ‘expert’, one paragraph sticks out as a particularly sneering and qwhite pointed:

Any more information beyond her name will be guarded stringently, the social commentator insists, “until her parents are ready to divulge it”. And I can’t help but picture Winfrey, who is already Baby Sussex’s godmother in all but name, announcing more details to the world’s press.

Why exactly can’t Walden help picturing that? And even if it were true why would it be so awful? Inevitably her husband, Piers Morgan — who has been stalking Meghan online ever since, he claims, she ditched him after one drink — has inevitably offered a snarky take on the birth of a baby. It’s not hard to guess what his next MailOnline column will be about.

While The Telegraph was and will continue to be weird, The Daily Mail grabs the creepy dial and whacks it right up to 11.

Its online news story carries the SEOtastic headline Harry and Meghan take parental leave from their jobs after revealing birth of daughter Lilibet Diana – as it emerges they told Queen her great-grandchild would be named after her 'before the announcement' (but Palace was still caught cold by timing) and is the work of at least four bylined reporters.

Among the unsurprising references to “upsetting the Queen” with the Oprah and Armchair Expert interviews, the Mail’s piece makes a big deal about the cost of Lilibet’s birth…

Meghan chose 133-year-old ‘not for profit’ Santa Barbara hospital where births cost up to £20,000 to welcome her daughter Lilibet Diana

… neglecting to mention that there’s a big price tag to pregnancy for any woman in the United States and Meghan is simply not an exception, rather than some spendy superstar.

The Mail’s crack team of speculators and insinuators further pad out their coverage with a section on the couple’s houses, a long comparison of recent royal babies’ birth weights, and an extensive discussion of how the line of succession has changed. Tl;dr? It’s another rough day for top Yelp! reviewer of Jeffrey Epstein’s houses and patron of Woking Pizza Express, Prince Andrew.

Elsewhere in the paper, Richard Kay gets in early with his contribution to the barmy British press pack’s baptism of the new baby with ridiculous symbolism and expectations, with a piece headlined:

After such rancour, can this baby repair the royal rift? The healing power of baby Lili could be vital to resolving the sadness at the heart of the Royal Family

Kay, who has been a professional royal curtain-twitching creep for decades and never stops mentioning how ‘trusted’ he was by Princess Diana, writes:

Never has a royal baby arrived with quite so much anticipation – or with so much seemingly depending on her. Yet for a child whose destiny will almost certainly be far removed from the Crown, her influence over the long-term future of the monarchy and its well-being may be profound.

And what an arrival! A great-grandchild of the Queen not born on British soil but in America, and named after the two women who, for vastly differing reasons, have had more influence over Royal Family life than any others for decades.

Kay buys his hyperbole in industrial quantities. The child is only days old and already this crusty stranger is anointing her as “the chosen one”, the Lord of the Rings’ one ring recast in baby form. But that’s merely the unpleasant hors d'oeuvre in this bumper banquet of bullshit. Kay continues:

Had he and Meghan decided to call Archie’s new sister Elizabeth Diana, their choice, one suspects, would have been met with warm approval.

But by giving the baby the name Lilibet, the Queen’s private family nickname – even though they intend to use the diminutive ‘Lili’ for their daughter – there is a risk.

Will it be seen as a presumptuous choice for a royal baby who is eighth in line to the throne, but who will grow up on the other side of the world speaking with an American accent? And how might Prince Charles feel about his fifth grandchild carrying such an intimate family pet name that he has never used himself?

It is tempting to wonder if Harry would have been so emboldened in his choice if his grandfather Prince Philip – the only close family member permitted to call the Queen ‘Lilibet’ – had still been alive.

This line will be a popular one among the newspapers who’ll revel in the idea that the Queen might be mortally offended by the name, rather than quite pleased, and speculate wildly about what dear old dead Philip would have made of the whole thing. And as for Prince Charles’ view? Who honestly gives a fuck?

The choice of your child’s name is yours alone and your family get on board with it or they don’t. That’s true regardless of whether you’re a prince or not. But the devil’s deal that the Royal Family has stuck to with the press for so many years and made practically everyone feel like they have a right to weigh in on personal choices like the naming of a baby.

It’s why Kay can get away with writing such a frankly weird collision of sentences and braindead offence automatons like Hovis advert cosplay champion Darren Grimes and little-girl voiced racist and libel case loser Julie Burchill feel they should drop their hot takes on the matter.

Kay concludes his bizarre and meandering article — thousands of words on what family members might think and what a newborn baby might do when she’s grown up — with this portentous paragraph:

… there is just a chance that George’s passage to the throne could be infinitely more secure if his first American-born cousin plays her part in helping to end the crisis that has so damaged the House of Windsor.

The little girl is just days old and already the Daily Mail man who has peered through her family’s front windows for so long has already decided what her role in life will be. That’s only considered normal because people don’t generally point out the abject weirdness of how tabloids write about people they. do. not. know.

The Sun pulls a familiar trick by getting another ‘royal expert’ in to tell us what the Sussexes intended with all the reliability and good taste of an old-timey psychic consulting some steaming entrails. Under the headline, A GRAN GESTURE Harry and Meghan’s baby daughter’s name in honour of Queen & Diana is attempt to fix rift with family, says royal expert, it writes:

PRINCE Harry and Meghan’s choice to name their daughter Lilibet was last night seen as an attempt to repair relations with the Royal Family.

Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor shares the nickname Prince Philip called his wife the Queen for more than 70 years — while the middle name is a tribute to Harry’s mum.

Wow. What incredible expert insight.

The story continues:

Royal author Phil Dampier said: “Lilibet is such a personal name to the Queen you would hope they gave the palace the heads-up.

“I suspect Harry and Meghan have realised they’ve overdone their criticism in recent months and the penny has dropped that they’ve caused deep hurt to Harry’s gran and other family members.”

Mr Dampier — who wrote Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan in their own words — added: “They might be trying to undo some of the damage.”

The paper would’ve got just as ‘high-quality’ analysis from one of those odd people who turn up at royal events wearing outfits entirely made of Union Flags.

Inevitably, The Sun — like many of the other tabloids — also runs a story on the thoughts of Meghan’s estranged father Thomas.

The Daily Express — which was for years The Daily Diana with increasingly ludicrous stories about the dead princess — shares copy with its Reach PLC stablemate The Daily Mirror. Both papers give prominence to comments from reliably Harry-hating former press secretary to the Queen, Dickie Arbiter.

The Daily Mirror goes with Harry and Meghan accused of "complete about-face" with new baby name after feud while The Daily Express opts for the scarcely different headline Prince Harry accused of ‘complete about-face’ with Lilibet’s name by ex-royal aide.

The awful Arbiter was one of several ‘experts’ who were shown to be full of shit by YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners in a prank filmed ahead of the Oprah interview:

Being exposed as someone who will say literally anything for money has not harmed Arbiter’s career as someone who will say literally anything for money. The Daily Mirror story quotes him saying:

It could be seen as quite controversial to christen a baby with a nickname, and I doubt the little girl will grow up with any other Lilibets in her classes (although people in California call their children all sorts). So maybe that’s Harry and Meghan showing their independence again - just like Archie, another non-royal name.

Choosing Diana’s name for their baby isn’t a surprise, as we all know Harry’s closeness to his mother was such that her loss has caused him mental issues even 24 years on.

But I wonder what Diana would have made of their daughter having her name as a middle, and not a principal name? Charlotte also has Diana as a middle name so they could have chosen it for her first name.

That’s not analysis from an expert, it’s the speculative burbling of an old bigot. You can expect a lot more of this kind of thing over the next few days as every hanger-on and barely-related know-it-all limbers up to offer their ‘advice’ to Harry and Meghan. Paul Burrel will be sat at his keyboard as I type.

The Guardian, which used to make a big deal of swerving royal coverage, doesn’t put the story on its home page, but gave the news a straight write-up — Meghan and Harry announce birth of baby daughter Lilibet — and a feature on the meanings of the new baby’s names, What’s in a name? The meanings of Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Independent takes an almost identical line but finds space for the story on its homepage, despite its own past as a royal coverage-shunning paper, with a news story headlined Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce birth of daughter, Lilibet, and its own explainer The meaning behind name chosen by Harry and Meghan for daughter.

Over at The Times, there’s an extensive news story which was filleted by its tabloid siblings at The Sun for the assertion that the Queen knew the new baby would be called Lilibet before the name was announced:

It is understood that the Queen was informed by the duke that her 11th great-grandchild would be named after her.

The so-called “paper of record” goes with the straight-down-the-line head Harry and Meghan announce birth of daughter Lilibet Diana. But it makes heavy work of suggestions that palace officials were “caught out” by the announcement…

Buckingham Palace appeared to have been caught off guard by the announcement, issued under the couple’s royal cypher, which shows their initials interwoven and topped with a crown. Some time after the news broke, but before they had time to offer congratulations, the palace posted news about the Princess Royal travelling to Dorset for the anniversary of the 13th Signal Regiment.

With the announcement having dropped on Sunday, you can expect a full week of increasingly weird columns and analysis from the British newspapers, especially The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph whose obsession with Meghan shows no sign of abating.

Let’s just hope that Andrew Marr isn’t asked to write a slab of speculative fiction about what Lilibet’s life will be like 25 years from now. I’m not sure I can cope with his chin-stroking about heartbreaks and hoverboards…