When Kate Middleton married William Mountbatten-Windsor, she was referred to thereafter as “Catherine.” This is because the royal family puts a lot of store in official names and generally shuns diminutives – but behind the scenes, they are just as fond of nicknames as everyone else.
Check out some of the personal nicknames the royals call each other when they’re behind closed doors.
When Queen Elizabeth II was a child, she couldn’t pronounce her own name very well and referred to herself as Lilibet. This sweet nickname stuck, and both her parents and grandparents used it in private.
Another nickname for the Queen that has popped up due to a child’s mispronunciation is “Gan-Gan.” The Queen was Prince George’s great-grandmother, but that’s a tricky word for a small boy to say, so as a toddler, he shortened it to “Gan-Gan.”
In doing so, it seems that George is following in the footsteps of his father, Prince William. Richard Kay, a columnist for the Daily Mail, related the following event in an article from 2015:
“[T]he Queen was on hand after William fell over at Buckingham Palace, bawling: ‘Gary. Gary.’ A guest who went to help asked who Gary was, assuming it must be a member of the royal household.
‘I’m Gary,’ explained the Queen, as she scooped him up. ‘He hasn’t learned to say Granny yet.’”
The same article noted how Prince Charles would call his son “whirlwind Will.” This was because the young prince had “an alarming habit of flushing shoes down the royal loo, pushing the palace panic buttons and threatening to behead his friends or lock them up in the Tower of London.”
Arch, Bubba, Little Man, and pumpkin
Of course, it’s hard to be a parent and not give your child a cute nickname. In public, Meghan Markle and Harry have been known to refer to their son as “Arch,” “Bubba,” and “little man.”
They also made an Instagram post wishing everyone a Happy Halloween from them and “our little pumpkin.”
Prince George has had his name shortened to “PG” at times, especially by his friends at school. That has been expanded on to call him “Tips,” in reference to the famous British brand of tea.
Sausage and “My little cabbage”
Anyone who watched the 2006 film The Queen starring Helen Mirren will have heard Prince Philip (played by James Cromwell) call the Queen “cabbage.” This was, in fact, a pet name that Philip had for his wife. Both Peter Morgan (the film’s screenwriter) and Robert Lacey (the Queen’s biographer) confirm that Prince Philip did call the Queen by that name.
The Times suggested that the term could be related to “mon petit chou,” a French term of endearment that means “my little cabbage.”
According to The Sun, Philip also used to call the Queen “sausage” in private, although they offer up no explanation as to why that was.
Other royal couples also have their own nicknames. At a performance of Hamilton, Meghan was standing in front of her husband during a photo opportunity. She turned to him and asked, “Can you see, my love?” which resulted in those around them going “Awww!” You can see the slip-up and the reactions in this video.
Another nickname was revealed on The Late Late Show when James Corden interviewed Prince Harry. Part of the episode can be seen here where Corden calls Meghan on Harry’s phone. When Megan refers to her husband as “Haz,” Corden turns to the prince and says, “I didn’t know we were calling you ‘Haz’ now,” to which Haz replies, “You’re not my wife.”
Meg, Flower, and Tungsten
People have heard Harry refer to his wife as “Meg,” while in an interview, Meghan referred to how her mother called her “flower.”
The third nickname she got was from Prince Charles, who admired the young woman’s “tough and unbending” nature.
Babe and Wombat
According to one website, while visiting the Royal Horticultural Show, Catherine turned to her husband and said, “Babe, we’ve got those. We’ve got loads of those,” in reference to some flowers they were being shown.
While Kate’s nickname for William is a pretty standard one, his nickname as a child was not. When the two princes were interviewed by NBC Dateline on the 10th anniversary of their mother’s death, William was asked about why his parents called him “wombat.”
Prince William said: “It began when I was two. I’ve been rightfully told because I can’t remember back that far. But when we went to Australia with our parents, and the wombat, you know, that’s the local animal. So I just basically got called that. Not because I look like a wombat. Or maybe I do.”
While William might have been mystified by the origin of his nickname, Harry had an answer for it: “You know what it was. He was still crawling at six. He still couldn’t walk. He was still, lazy.”
Poppet and Squeak
While William has been heard to refer to his wife as “poppet” at times, Kate also had an adorable childhood nickname.
When speaking to Glamour, Kate revealed that she’d been named after her guinea pig. “I was nicknamed Squeak, just like my guinea pig. There was one called Pip and one called Squeak, because my sister was Pippa and I was Squeak.”
My little Spencer
While his brother might have been “wombat” to his parents, Harry also had his own personal nickname from his mother.
According to The List website, Diana’s nickname for Harry reflected his heritage. “While neither Princess Diana nor Prince Charles had red hair, having red hair runs in the Spencer family, which is where Harry inherited his red locks. This, along with Prince Harry’s resemblance to Diana’s sister, Sarah, led to her dubbing her younger son ‘my little Spencer.’”
Spike Wells and Steve
Over the years, Princes William and Harry have both been able to pick a pseudonym for themselves. When Harry had a Facebook account, it was under the name of “Spike Wells,” until the royal security team shut it down, according to one website.
And when he was a student at St. Andrew’s University, William went by the alias of “Steve” to try and maintain some kind of anonymity and not draw attention to himself.
Fred and Gladys
When he was young and before he married Lady Diana Spencer, Prince Charles dated Camilla Parker-Bowles when they were in their twenties. They nicknamed each other “Fred” and “Gladys” in reference to The Goon Show, a BBC radio show written by Spike Milligan.
The nicknames are an important plot point in the Netflix series The Crown. Just days before her wedding, Diana finds a box containing a bracelet engraved with the initials G and F – a gift from Charles to Camilla. This might sound like something that was dreamed up to create additional tension in the show, but in fact, it was based on a true event.
It’s also been suggested that the initials might have referred to “Girl Friday,” another nickname that Charles had for Camilla. But either way, the bracelet existed and it was such a shock to Diana that she told her sisters she couldn’t marry Charles; they told her it was “too late to chicken out.”