Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will not christen their daughter Lilibet in the UK and are likely to opt for a ceremony in California, royal sources have claimed.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their second child Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, who was born in Santa Barbara, California, on June 4 this year.
It had previously been suggested the couple, who named the four-month-old after the Queen’s childhood nickname, would christen their child at Windsor Castle in front of the monarch – who is yet to meet her great granddaughter.
However sources have now revealed that a christening in the UK was ‘highly unlikely’ and the pair will instead opt to christen their daughter at the Episcopal Church of the US.
The decision will now raise questions as to when the Queen will ever get to meet the great granddaughter named after her face to face.
It also comes just days after it was revealed that Prince Harry would not be returning to Britain next week to join his brother Prince William at a party to honour their late mother.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (pictured with the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland during Archie’s christening) will not christen their daughter Lilibet in the UK, sources have revealed
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed that they were expecting their second child on February 14 this year
A palace source told The Telegraph: ‘There will not be a christening in the UK. It is not happening.’
Meanwhile another insider added it was ‘highly unlikely’.
The Episcopal Church of the US, which is member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is run by Bishop Michael Curry who became an internet sensation after he delivered a 14-minute sermon at the couple’s wedding at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in 2018.
If Harry and Meghan decide to baptise their daughter at the California church it will mean that Lilibet will not be considered a ‘member’ of the Church of England automatically.
However the young royal could later join a Church of England congregation if she came to the UK.
Although Meghan attended a Catholic high school, she was baptised and confirmed into the Church of England in a private ceremony at the Chapel Royal conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
The intimate 45-minute service was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Chapel Royal in 2018 and was a closely-guarded secret with only a handful of royal aides involved.
Meghan followed partly in the footsteps of the Duchess of Cambridge, who was baptised as an infant but had a private confirmation after her engagement to Prince William.
The service observed the full ritual of the Church with holy water from the River Jordan from the private Royal Family font poured on Meghan’s head.
Lilibet’s brother, Archie, was also christened by the Archbishop amid unprecedented secrecy at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in 2019.
At the time of Archie’s christening the duke and duchess of Sussex said they ‘felt fortunate’ to have enjoyed their son’s christening with his godparents and shared two pictures from the big day.
A few hours after the ceremony, Meghan and Prince Harry released an official image in which they posed alongside the Duchess of Cornwall, The Prince of Wales, Doria Ragland, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.
Sources have now revealed that a christening in the UK was ‘highly unlikely’ and the pair will instead op to christen their daughter at the Episcopal Church of the US
This official christening photograph released by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex showed the Duke and Duchess with their son, Archie and (left to right) the Duchess of Cornwall, The Prince of Wales, Ms Doria Ragland, Princess Diana’s sisters Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle
A second shot in black-and-white showed Meghan dressed in white gazing into Harry’s eyes as she cradled baby Archie. Windsor castle’s Rose Garden could be seen in the background
Just 25 guests were present at the baptism, which saw Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor christened in a private chapel at Windsor Castle, but the couple only released photographs celebrating with their immediate family.
As well as including Diana’s sisters in the snap, the proud parents also paid tribute to Archie’s grandmother by sitting on the same green chair with gold detailing that Diana and the Queen sat on for Harry’s official christening photographs.
Prior to the ceremony a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said in a statement: ‘Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor will be christened in a small private ceremony by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday July 6. The godparents, in keeping with their wishes, will remain private.’
Although details of royal babies’ godparents have always been made public in the past, Harry and Meghan refused to confirm any names for Archie.
Godparents of royal babies are traditionally announced beforehand – often on the morning of the christening – and conventionally elderly or foreign relatives are selected.
The couple went on to face significant backlash over their insistence that the 25-person ceremony would remain private and the identities of Archie’s godparents would not be revealed at the time.
The Dean of Chelmsford, Nicholas Henshall, told the BBC: ‘Baptism should never be private. It’s a public demonstration of God’s love.’
While Professor Adrian Hilton, political philosophy lecturer at the University of Surrey, commented: ‘Details of the godparents will be kept private.
‘This is inappropriate. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are in receipt of the ‘Sovereign Grant’: their son isn’t a ‘private citizen’; his godparents are a matter of public interest, having responsibility for his spiritual wellbeing.’
Under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, all Church of England baptisms are a matter of public record, including the godparents and officiating minister. Anyone willing to pay the required fee can look up the details.
This week it was revealed that Prince Harry (pictured with Meghan Markle in New York) was not expected to return to Britain next week to join his brother Prince William at a party to honour their mother
Sweet family nickname for Queen that inspired Harry and Meghan’s name for their baby daughter
Lilibet – the Queen’s family nickname – was first used when Princess Elizabeth was just a toddler and unable to pronounce her own name properly.
Her grandfather King George V would affectionately call her ‘Lilibet’ imitating her own attempts to say Elizabeth.
The sweet nickname stuck and she became Lilibet to her family from then on.
The Duke of Edinburgh also referred to his wife as Lilibet, writing to his mother in law after their wedding: ‘Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me.’
Harry and Meghan’s new baby daughter – the Queen’s 11th great-grandchild – will be known as Lili. A variation on Lily, the flower is often seen to symbolise purity, commitment, rebirth and fertility.
Lili’s middle name Diana honours Harry’s later mother Diana, Princess of Wales. It is no surprise the couple chose to pay tribute to Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997 when Harry was just 12.
Lili has been born almost a month before the princess would have celebrated her 60th birthday on July 1. Her cousin Princess Charlotte also has Diana as one of her middle names, as well as Elizabeth. She is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
Harry and the Duke of Cambridge are due to unveil a statue of their mother at Kensington Palace on her birthday, but the arrangements have yet to be confirmed, amid a long-reported rift between the brothers.
The Sussexes’ tribute to the Queen is likely to be seen as an olive branch to the monarch and the rest of the family.
Harry and Meghan plunged the Windsors into crisis with their Oprah Winfrey interview in March when they accused an unnamed royal of making a racist remark about their son Archie’s skin tone before he was born.
They also said the institution failed to help Meghan when she was suicidal. But during the televised interview with Winfrey, the Sussexes lauded the Queen.
Harry spoke of his respect for his grandmother, while Meghan said: ‘The Queen… has always been wonderful to me.’
In August, royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliam told the Express the couple will ‘do things their own way’ with their daughter Lilibet.
He said: ‘It seems certain that her christening will be in Meghan’s home state and with the secrecy but without the controversy that surrounded Archie’s christening.’
The couple have never released an image of their daughter to the public, with royal commentator Richard saying the decision shows the Duke and Duchess are acting on their own terms.
The latest claims come after it was revealed that Prince Harry was not expected to return to Britain next week to join his brother Prince William at a party to honour their mother.
The party had originally been planned for July 1, when the brothers unveiled a statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, on what would have been her 60th birthday.
Prince Harry flew back for the unveiling without wife Meghan, who had given birth to the couple’s second child, Lilibet.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, the plans were scaled back, with just the Princes, their uncle Earl Spencer and aunts Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes present.
Harry was due to attend the rescheduled party for 100 guests, believed to include Sir Elton John, on October 19, although it is unclear if Meghan would have accompanied him.
However sources this week said it was not expected he would return for this.
Since attending the statue’s unveiling, Harry has announced he is writing his memoirs. They are due for release next year, when the Queen will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee to mark 70 years on the throne.
In February a spokesperson for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry confirmed the couple were expecting a second child together.
The couple shared their announcement – aptly on Valentine’s Day – by posting a black and white image of Harry resting his hand on Meghan’s head as she lay in his lap underneath a tree.
‘The photograph of the Duke and Duchess was was taken by the couple’s longtime friend Misan Harriman. What wonderful news for the Sussexes!!’ their spokesperson added.
Lilibet – whose middle name is Diana – was born at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in June.
It is understood the Queen was informed by Prince Harry that her great grandchild would be named in her honour, ahead of their official announcement which was made on their official website.
However, Buckingham Palace appeared to be caught off guard by the timing of the Sussexes’ news with a spokesman for the palace congratulating the couple 90 minutes after the announcement broke.
Omid Scobie, a journalist favoured by Harry and Meghan, later tweeted that the couple would ‘not be sharing a photograph at this time’ of Lilibet and that they were now on ‘parental leave’.
He said the couple’s office was encouraging anyone who wanted to send gifts to support organisations working for women and girls.
The name Lilibet was coined by the Queen and used by her younger sister Margaret and their parents.
George VI once said: ‘Lilibet is my pride. Margaret is my joy.’
Lilibet arrived six days before what would have been the Duke of Edinburgh’s 100th birthday.