Lilibet to celebrate first birthday in UK
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Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, have returned to the UK with their two children — three-year-old Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana, who celebrates her first birthday on Saturday, June 4 — for the first time since their shock exit two years ago. Lilibet has reportedly met her great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, for the first time and has reportedly also been introduced to other members of the Royal Family. The Sussex family’s return to Britain is tipped to provide an opportunity for Lilibet to be christened privately, like her older brother Archie two years ago.
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Sarah Campbell, the BBC’s royal correspondent, addressed the possibility of a royal christening marking Lilibet’s first birthday this morning.
She told BBC Breakfast host Naga Manchetty: “It’s Lilibet’s first birthday — we know that they’re staying at Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate, we know that the Queen is certainly there today, she’s not going to be attending the Epsom Derby as she would normally do — so there is some speculation as to whether their might be a christening today.
“Whether we’ll ever find out about it, because it will of course be classed as a private family event, we don’t know, but it will be interesting to watch and see what happens there.”
Speaking to host Pandora Forsyth on the Daily Express’ Royal Roundup, royal correspondent Richard Palmer explained how it could happen.
He said: “Lilibet, as far as we know she hasn’t been christened yet and this is just speculation but I think quite a lot are wondering whether the family will use the time here to have a small, private christening.
“Perhaps at the Queen’s private chapel in Windsor Castle or at the chapel on the grounds of Royal Lodge where the Queen often goes to worship on Sunday.
“Nobody is telling me that is going to happen. We don’t know, we’re probably not going to find out but it’s probably one worth keeping an eye on.”
In line with the typical characteristics of the Royal Family’s events, royal christenings are steeped in tradition, but if little Lili is christened today, she’ll have to make one major break away from history.
Royal babies all wear the same christening gown — a replica of the famous Honiton lace gown, in which Queen Victoria’s children were christened.
However, Lilibet would have to break the long-standing tradition, as the Sussexes’ daughter is much older than the typical age royal babies are christened.
As Camilla Tominey, associate editor at The Telegraph, explained ahead of the christening of Archie in 2019, the traditional gown is the “same fit” which is why royal children get christened within months of their birth.
Ms Tominey told Nine News Australia’s Today programme: “That Honiton lace christening gown, that has been worn by all royal children, it’s actually a replica of the original dress that Queen Victoria’s children were christened in.
“But it is the same fit and that is why royal babies will tend to get christened sooner rather than later — otherwise they get a little bit too big to fit in the thing.”
Lady Louise Windsor, 18, the daughter of Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, was the last to wear the original gown in 2004; her brother, James, Viscount Severn, 14, was the first baby to wear the new outfit, which was commissioned by the Queen and made by Angela Kelly after the original was deemed too fragile.
More than 60 royal babies — including all three of the Cambridge children, and Harry and William — have worn the gown before.
Archie, Lilibet’s older brother, was christened on July 6, 2019, just two months after his birth — he wore the traditional gown during the private ceremony in Windsor.
However, Meghan and Harry did go against one royal tradition for the christening of their son.
The royal child’s godparents are typically announced during the ceremony, but the duke and duchess famously broke tradition when they kept the names private.
They have since maintained their children’s privacy by largely keeping them out of the public eye — a handful of images of Archie have been released, while only one photograph of Lilibet has been seen by royal watchers.
Many remain hopeful that the Sussexes’ children will be seen during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Speaking on Thursday’s episode of Pod Save The Queen, host Zoe Forsey and the Daily Mirror’s royal features writer admitted they “hope” royal watchers will get a glimpse of the Sussex children.
Meghan and Harry have kept a low profile since they arrived in the UK, and were only spotted briefly during Trooping the Colour on Thursday before attending the Service of Thanksgiving on Friday.
Omid Scobie, author of Finding Freedom, told BBC Breakfast that the couple want to keep “as low-profile as possible”.
He said: “I spoke with people close to the couple… who said that they want to be as low-profile as possible during this trip.”
He added that the couple hold a “warm and close” relationship with the Queen and said: “Those moments with Lilibet are very much private between them and the Queen”.
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