The Mail’s serialisation of Robert Hardman’s fantastic new biography of the King — Charles III: New King, New Court, The Inside Story — has been fascinating. It’s published this Thursday, and I’ve already pre-ordered my copy.
The book has shone an extraordinary light on the inner workings of the contemporary monarchy: from the death of the Queen at Balmoral in 2022 to the secret plans for a regency in the event she became incapacitated during the final years of her life.
But nothing prepared me for today’s front-page revelation that our late Queen was, according to a courtier, ‘as angry as I’ve ever seen her’ when Harry and Meghan furiously insisted, through their lawyers, that she had given her permission for them to call their daughter Lilibet — the late monarch’s private family nickname.
The Sussexes fired off aggressive legal threats to anyone who dared to suggest the Queen was anything less than delighted.
Yet now, thanks to Robert’s impeccably sourced book, it appears that the last years of her reign were overshadowed not only by this extraordinary decision, but by Harry and Meghan’s hunger for publicity and tendency to air their grievances on TV and in writing.
The Queen embodied every virtue this pair lack. She was loyal, dedicated, hard-working and driven by duty every day of her life — at times, if we are honest, to the detriment of her own family and happiness. She always put the nation first.
The nickname ‘Lilibet’ arose when the future Queen was a small child and charmingly struggled to pronounce ‘Elizabeth’. In its cosy informality, it speaks of a happy, now-vanished era spent with her parents, George VI and the Queen Mother, as well as Princess Margaret. She must always have associated it with those quiet, private family times.