Columnist Daniela Elser said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex releasing the snap of their daughter “speaks volumes”. She highlighted how the couple have previously “done things their own way” and avoided sharing pictures of their children or only images that do not show their faces.
But Ms Elser said the timing of the new Lili picture was “key to understanding this surprising change of tack” after the Sussexes’ “ice-cold trip” to Britain for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Writing for the New Zealand Herald, the commentator said: “Lili’s birthday aside, the four-day stint back in the UK was nothing short of a PR disaster for the couple who were sidelined by the royal family in the most humiliating – and blatant – way possible.
“In short, it’s very hard to see how the Sussexes’ Great British Return could be viewed as anything other than disastrous.
“No PR wins, family rapprochement or unmissable Netflix footage in the can – they did not bring any cameras with them – and all at the expense of their egos and, potentially, their bank balance too.
“Which brings us to the release of Tuesday’s Lili images which, given the preceding days’ events, start to look like a fairly transparent attempt at righting the publicity ship and changing the prevailing Sussex narrative from embarrassing flop to, ‘Ooh! BABY!'”
Harry and Meghan shared the snap of Lili on Monday after returning to the US from their UK visit.
The sweet photo was taken by photographer and friend of the couple Misan Harriman at the tot’s first birthday party at Frogmore Cottage last Saturday.
The picture shows Lili smiling and dressed in a pale blue frock with a white bow in her hair.
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They made their first public appearance alongside the Windsors in two years at the service of thanksgiving last Friday.
But their relegated seats were a telling sign of their change in status.
Working royals filled the front-row chairs, meaning there was no place there for Harry and Meghan in the prime positions.
Far across the aisle from Prince Charles, Camilla and the Cambridges, Harry and Meghan sat in the second row, behind the Wessex family and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
There was no obvious interaction shown on the television camera between Harry and his older brother Prince William, who have long faced a rift, nor with his father who he also has a troubled relationship with, or between Meghan and Kate.
Just over a year ago the Sussexes made a series of bombshell claims about the royals in their Oprah Winfrey interview.
After the service members of the Royal Family were invited to a reception at the Guildhall but Harry and Meghan did not attend.
And the Sussexes reportedly set off for the US before the Pageant kicked off on Sunday.