Prince Harry and Meghan announce Princess Lilibet's christening, use royal titles for first time

Naledi Ushe

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's youngest child has been christened.

The ceremony for their daughter, Princess Lilibet, took place at the couple's home. The 21-month-old was baptized on Friday by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the Rev. John Taylor, Harry and Meghan said in a statement.

The christening announcement marked the first time Prince Harry and Meghan publicly called their daughter a princess, revealing for the first time that they will use royal titles for their children.

Titles are conferred in line with a decree issued by King George V in 1917 that limits the titles of prince and princess to the male-line grandchildren of the sovereign.

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Lilibet Diana Mountbatten Windsor, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was christened Friday in an intimate ceremony.

As long as the late Queen Elizabeth II was alive, Harry and his older brother, Prince William, were the sovereign’s grandchildren. Harry and William’s children, as great grandchildren, didn’t receive the titles automatically.

But Elizabeth had the power to amend the rules, and in 2012 she decreed that the children of Prince William and his wife, Princess Kate, would be princes and princesses. This decree didn’t apply to Harry and Meghan.

However, the situation changed when King Charles III ascended to the throne after Queen Elizabeth II's death in September. William and Harry are the king’s sons, meaning their offspring are now royal grandchildren and so entitled to be known as prince and princess.

On Wednesday, the children were still listed on the palace's official website as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor and Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor. By Thursday morning, the site was updated to Prince Archie of Sussex and Princess Lilibet of Sussex.

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Prince Harry's older brother, Prince William, and Duchess Kate's children have always been listed on the site under their titles Prince George of Wales, Princess Charlotte of Wales and Prince Louis of Wales.

The question of the children’s titles took center stage two years ago during Harry and Meghan’s television interview with Oprah Winfrey. Meghan, who is biracial, said that when she was pregnant with Archie "they" — presumably the palace — "were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince … which would be different from protocol."

Meghan suggested that this was because Archie was the royal family’s "first member of color" and would have marked the first time a royal grandchild wasn’t given the same title as the other grandchildren.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have slowly opened up about their life as working royals since their departure in January 2020.

At the time, royal experts said Meghan’s comments appeared to be based on a misunderstanding of the way royal titles are conferred.

The christening announcement marked the first time that the children’s titles had been used in public.

Lilibet's christening was unusual, according to rules established by the Church of England. The Church only permits christening outside of a parish church in "very exceptional circumstances" and they typically take place during "the Sunday service of a church, so that the whole congregation can offer a warm welcome to you and your family."

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Traditionally, godparents are also invited to christenings.

Tyler Perry is Lilibet's godfather, he revealed in their Netflix docuseries "Harry & Meghan." It's unclear who her godmother is. Perry recalled being asked to take the position, sharing he was hesitant at first to accept. "I had to take a minute to take that in," he said.

The movie executive eventually agreed. "I thought, 'I'd be honored. I'd absolutely be honored,'" he said in the docuseries.

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Contributing: Danica Kirka