Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Daughter Lilibet's Birthday Was Not Publicly Acknowledged by Royal Family

This marks a change in course from last year amid an ongoing strained relationship.

Birthday wishes are in order for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's daughter, Lilibet, who turned two on Sunday. However, the day came and went with no public acknowledgment from the royal family -- notably, Harry's father, King Charles III, brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law, Kate Middleton -- on their social media channels or via a statement. Here's why: 

Though the optics of the omission are being perceived as a slight and a sign of the ongoing strained relationship between the Sussexes and the royal family, a royal source tells ET: "It has never been protocol to share formal birthday wishes for non-working members of the royal family or their children on the official channels. Any such birthday wishes would be shared privately." 

This marks a change in course from last year, when, on June 4, 2022, the royal family did publicly issue a string of happy wishes for Lilibet's first birthday across multiple verified social media accounts. @KensingtonRoyal, @ClarenceHouse and @RoyalFamily were among the Twitter handles that posted about the milestone. 

ET spoke to royal expert Katie Nicholl, who shared why the move could be considered a "snub."

"Well in the past we have seen the royal family take to their social media channels to celebrate birthdays ... and I know that the king raised a toast to Archie during his coronation weekend who celebrated his fourth birthday that weekend so I think the fact we didn't see any birthday wishes to Lilibet is unusual," she notes. "The palace is saying that this is not a tradition of wishing family members a happy birthday on social media -- that might be true but certainly we have seen them extend wishes on social media and it does feel that this might be something of a snub to Princess Lilibet ... because there have been no official birthday congratulations either on the Kensington Palace social media channels or indeed on Buckingham Palace."

"We understand that  ... this isn't something the royals traditionally do, birthdays are deemed private affairs and private celebrations, however, in the past they have taken  to social media channels to celebrate birthdays and we see them with emojis and balloons particularly for younger members of the royal family who are celebrating their birthdays so it is a bit unusual that no messages have been exchanged to congratulate Princess Lilibet on her second birthday," she continues.

Harry, 38, and Meghan, 41, stepped away from their duties as working members of the royal family in March 2020 as they relocated to Montecito, California. The following year, in February 2021, the couple confirmed their official exit after what had been dubbed a year-long trial period.

Harry and Meghan welcomed their daughter in June 2021 in California and shared that her name -- Lilibet 'Lili' Diana Mountbatten-Windsor -- honors Harry’s grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, as well as his mother, the late Princess Diana. The pair are also parents to son Archie, who was born in the U.K. in May 2019.

Notably, the royal family also did not publicly wish Archie a happy birthday last month. The young prince turned four on the same day as King Charles III's coronation

On Monday, the Duke of Sussex missed the first morning of his trial against Mirror Group Newspapers after celebrating Lilibet's second birthday at home with his family. 

A source tells ET that the judge, Justice Timothy Fancourt, was "surprised" by his absence, as he requested that the duke be present for the first day as the first witness, should there be time for testimony. 

"Prince Harry did not show up for the first day he was expected to testify at the court proceeding against the Mirror Newspaper group this morning," the source says. "His lawyer, David Sherbourne, told the court that Prince Harry had flown overnight to London after celebrating Princess Lilibet’s birthday."

Meanwhile, a source told ET last month that Harry had not heard from his father or brother in the wake of his claims of a "near catastrophic car chase" involving paparazzi in New York City, and that neither Buckingham Palace nor Kensington Palace would be commenting publicly on the matter.

A source told ET that "since Harry and Meghan have stepped back from royal duties, the palace generally does not comment on their activities."