The rift between Prince Harry’s family and the rest of the royals plumbed new depths Tuesday after reports emerged Tuesday that the California-based couple are not planning to bring their new baby, Lilibet, to England for a traditional British christening.
But sources close to the couple pushed back against the claims, telling The Daily Beast there was “no truth” to the report carried in today’s edition of U.K. newspaper the Daily Telegraph. A spokesperson for the couple told The Daily Beast: “Plans for the baby’s christening have not been finalized and as such, any assumptions about what will or will not take place are mere speculation.”
However the fact that the report comes from the Daily Telegraph’s respected royal reporter Camilla Tominey, whose scoops include breaking the news that Harry and Meghan were an item when they began dating, means the claims, based on information from sources at the palace, will be taken seriously by observers.
Tominey said one royal source told her: “There will not be a christening in the U.K. It is not happening,” with another source suggesting it was “highly unlikely” baby Lili would be christened in England.
If the couple do indeed not come to the U.K. for a christening, the decision will pose serious questions over when, if ever, the queen, who is 95 years old and no longer flies long-haul, will meet her granddaughter. Lili was controversially named after the queen, as Lilibet is her nickname. Harry and Meghan said they had secured the queen’s support to use the name, but the queen’s office briefed the BBC that she had not been consulted.
The couple have given no indication that they intend to return to the U.K. for Christmas or the New Year holidays and the family have also formally bowed out of a gathering this week to celebrate the erection of a statue in honor of their mother, Princess Diana. Harry came to England and attended the official unveiling of the statue on July 1, but Meghan and their small children did not accompany him. Harry also traveled solo for Prince Philip’s funeral, citing the advice of doctors in connection with Meghan’s advanced pregnancy. Lili was born on June 4, around seven weeks after the funeral.
The queen is believed to have seen her California grandchildren on video chats, however. As well as never meeting Lili, she has not seen Archie in person since the family permanently left the U.K. in April 2020.
Travel is still restricted by COVID and some people are choosing not to fly with unvaccinated children, making arrangements to reunite the two sides of the family across the Atlantic even more problematic.
There had been speculation that Meghan and Harry wanted a traditional royal christening in England for Lilibet, mirroring the arrangements made for Archie, who was born on May 6, 2019. He was christened two months later in the private chapel at Windsor Castle. Lili was born on June 4, meaning she is already well past the usual window in which British royal babies are typically christened.
It had been hoped that a British christening could have provided a space for reconciliation between the estranged families, relations between whom have deteriorated steadily over the past two years. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry and Meghan said that an unnamed member of the royal family asked racist questions about their then-unborn children’s skin color, and they are said to be aggrieved that the queen has not taken “full ownership” of the allegations. The royals are also believed to be anxious and irritated by Harry’s announcement that he will publish a memoir next year.
The Telegraph added that Lilibet is likely to be christened in the Episcopal tradition. Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered the spellbinding address at Harry and Meghan’s wedding, “could officiate” the paper said.
With the couple’s official spokesperson now stating that plans for the christening are still being worked on, however, there may yet be a glimmer of hope that the families can come together to mark the occasion.