In Depth

The meaning of Lilibet Diana and Archie Harrison’s names

Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcome a second child into their family

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced the birth of their second child, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, who was born on Friday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California. 

In a statement on their Archewell website, the couple said Lilibet, who will be known as Lili, is “more than we could have ever imagined, and we remain grateful for the love and prayers we’ve felt from across the globe”.

Lilibet is a younger sister to Archie Harrison, who was born on 6 May 2019. So what are the origins of their names?

Lilibet Diana

The names of the new royal baby are “an homage to both Prince Harry’s mother and grandmother”, says Town & Country magazine.

Lilibet is the childhood nickname of Queen Elizabeth II, affectionately inspired by her inability to correctly pronounce her own name when she was a toddler. 

According to The Times, Prince Philip used to call his wife by the nickname, writing to his mother-in-law following his wedding that “Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me.” During the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral services in April, the Queen reportedly left a note signed “Lilibet” on the casket of her husband.

“Despite being the Queen’s nickname, Lilibet is also a real name, and means ‘God’s promise’,” says iNews, while Lili is “a slight adaptation of the lily flower, a popular girl’s name”, and “is seen to represent purity, commitment, rebirth and fertility”.

For the baby’s second name, Harry and Meghan chose Diana, the name of Harry’s late mother, who would have turned 60 this summer. Lilibet’s first cousin, six-year-old Princess Charlotte, also has Diana as a middle name.

Archie Harrison

Unlike his sister, neither of Archie Harrison’s names were borrowed from previous kings or close relatives. The choice “came as a surprise to many” and was never the bookmakers’ favourite, reported The Guardian at the time. 

The Telegraph also noted that royal names are traditionally given in their full, formal form, but Harry and Meghan chose instead to use a diminutive - Archie - rather than the full Archibald. Nevertheless, “Archie is a name widely used in the upper-class circles Prince Harry moves in”, said the newspaper.

The Times explained that Archie is Old High German for “bold”, the ancient Greek for “master” and also “an old American comic-book character famous for his ginger hair”. The name has been around in slightly different forms since Anglo-Saxon times.

“Rather fittingly, Harrison - a name that was originally used as a surname - means ‘son of Harry’,” said the BBC. Back in 2019, several commentators speculated whether the inspiration came from Harrison Ford, with The New York Times pointing out that the new royal is, after all, “the son of a bona fide Hollywood celebrity”.

Mountbatten-Windsor

Archie and Lilibet’s surname is a combination of the Queen and Prince Philip’s surnames which was created when they married in 1947.

The Guardian explains that Mountbatten-Windsor was “a legacy of the Duke of Edinburgh’s deep-rooted desire for his descendants to bear his family name”. This aspiration put him at loggerheads in the early 1950s with Winston Churchill’s government, which feared Prince Charles would become the first king in the House of Mountbatten.

However, says the newspaper, the Queen decided in 1960 that “her descendants – other than her children, or those entitled to use the HRH style, or the descendants of female family members who marry – would bear the surname Mountbatten-Windsor”.

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