Queen Elizabeth II had 12 great-grandchildren and delighted in them all but was particularly touched when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle named their daughter after her.
The Queen’s youngest great-granddaughter was given her family nickname Lilibet. The sweet name comes from the Queen not being able to say Elizabeth properly as a toddler and the name stuck.
Now the name is given to Prince Harry’s daughter alongside her middle name Diana – a poignant tribute to his mother, the late Princess of Wales.
And the Queen’s former footman Paul Burrell says after Prince Harry and Meghan moved to America, losing the connection with Lilibet was upsetting for our late monarch in her final years. Despite her failing health, the Queen was determined to spend time with her mini namesake.
Burrell says that when the family returned to the UK for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022, the Queen still didn’t get to see her granddaughter on her birthday.
“Even on Lilibet’s first birthday the Queen didn’t see her,” Burrell exclusively tells The Mirror. “She saw her the day before. But on her birthday, the Queen had a birthday cake made with one candle in it. And they never turned up. That candle was never lit.”
The family celebrated Lilibet’s birthday at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor with a backyard picnic. That day, the Queen was set to attend the Epsom Derby in Surrey as part of the jubilee celebrations but was forced to cancel due to her ongoing mobility issues.
“The next day she asked if maybe they’d like to come up for tea again and was told they’ve gone,” Burrell remembers. “‘What do you mean they’ve gone?’ she said. They’ve gone back to America. ‘Oh no, they never said goodbye’.”
Burrell says the Queen was “confused” by the slight and the family’s decision to leave so quickly. “How could you offend our Queen?” Burrell says. “Well, I don’t understand anyone that could do that. Not her family, why would you want to? She was devoid of jealousy, anger, envy, all those traits that we associate with other people she didn’t have. She was just a very simple soul. I wish the world could have known her the way I knew her.”
The first anniversary of the Queen’s death will be difficult for the family as she was such a huge part of their lives. “All the family dearly loved our Queen, and they will all be remembering her in their own particular ways,” Burrell says. “She was a mother, a granny, a great granny to all of them. And they all miss her. Even Harry and Meghan, in Los Angeles will be thinking about the Queen on her anniversary because Harry was a particular favourite.”
Burrell says he always had a “communication” with the Queen until the end of her life and knows the unique challenges she faced in her final years.
Because while the Queen always kept her family close, her beloved grandson Prince Harry broke away from the royal family just two years before her death. And while Prince Archie was born in London, when his little sister Princess Lilibet was born on 4 June 2021, the family were already living over 5,000 miles away in California.