Secret Nicknames Royals Have Behind Closed Doors

If you were to ever come into direct contact with the Queen, how would you address her? According to the royal family's official website, there actually aren't any hard and fast rules when it comes to meeting British royalty. So, you could technically shout out "Hey, Liz!" to the Queen or "What's up, Bill?" to Prince William, but most people choose to address the royals using "traditional forms."

For men, this would mean a neck bow and, for women, a simple curtsy. Handshakes are also acceptable. Additionally, there's a traditional order when using royal titles. "On presentation to The Queen," the site explains, "the correct formal address is 'Your Majesty' and subsequently 'Ma'am'..." When addressing other female royals, the appropriate address is "Your Royal Highness" followed by "Ma'am." It is much the same when addressing male royals as well: begin with "Your Royal Highness" and use "Sir" for all secondary interactions. While these titles may work for us, how do the royals address one another? In public, they default to the "traditional forms," but what they call each other in private is a totally different story. Here are some of nicknames used within their family.

A mispronunciation turned endearing nickname

When Queen Elizabeth II was young, her father, King George VI, is reported to have said, "Lilibet is my pride. Margaret is my joy." Margaret is the late King's second and youngest child, but who is Lilibet? According to Hello! Magazine, the Queen's mother and father, as well as her grandparents, used to affectionately call her "Lilibet." As a child, the then-princess had trouble pronouncing her name. Apparently, the nickname stuck and was used as a term of endearment.

Although the nickname "Lilibet" is adorable, the phrase in which it was used sounds a bit cringey. Was he calling Margaret his favorite? Netflix's The Crown, which is not a documentary but is based on facts, addressed this topic in "Pride and Joy," the eighth episode of Season 1. In the show, the Queen Mother says their father "didn't have a favorite" and that he loved them both and "did so equally." While we have no way of knowing if this conversation actually took place, we hope it did.

Express speculated that the phrase may have been more about their personalities and positions. Elizabeth, or Lilibet, may have been his pride because she was to become Queen and was a more serious child, whereas Maraget was his joy because of her free-spiritedness.

This veggie-based nickname is cuter than it seems

In the 2006 film The Queen, Prince Philip, who is played by James Cromwell, calls Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) "cabbage." Though the film is fictional, the real Prince Philip does refer to his wife as a leafy green plant at times.

"I inquired in royal circles and was told on very good authority that that is what the duke sometimes calls the Queen," Peter Morgan, The Queen's screenwriter told The Times. Robert Lacey, a British historian and the Queen's biographer also confirmed the use of the nickname, saying, "Yes, I've heard that is how he will sometimes refer to her."

But, why in the world would Philip choose to call his wife "Cabbage"? The prince himself has not explained, but The Times said it could be a derivative of the French term of endearment "mon petit chou," which, when translated to English, means "my little cabbage." Inevitably, that would make the cruciferous vegetable a much better — and arguably sweeter — nickname.

Meghan's sweet label for Prince Harry

When Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, attended a gala performance of Hamilton to benefit Sentebale, a charity that helps African children affected by HIV, the couple looked to have a fantastic time. Perhaps so good of a time that they got a little too comfortable than is typical for royalty. As reported by royal correspondent Emily Andrews, Harry thanked audience, as well as the cast and crew, and even sung a couple bars on stage.

As a video clip shows, Meghan also let her guard down when she and Harry posed for a photo. Because she was standing in front of her hubby, she turned toward him and asked, "Can you see, my love?" The cast immediately started awwing at the adorable moment and Meghan became aware of what she'd said. "Oh!" she can be heard saying as she put her hand to chest and let out an embarrassed smile. Cutest couple ever? Pretty much.  

Meghan has some nicknames of her own

Meghan doesn't just dole out nicknames, she's earned some herself. In a video shared by The Royal Family Channel, Harry can be seen trying to get his then-fiancée's attention while at the crowded Invictus Games reception in London. "Meg, Meg!" he's recorded as saying. Okay, so his nickname for Meghan isn't quite as cute as her nickname for him, but it does demonstrate their laid-back and unstuffy relationship. It's also probably best that Harry opted for "Meg" or else he'd have to compete with Meghan's mom, Doria Ragland, for cutest nickname — and there's no winning that match.

When Meghan shared a quote from Ragland on her now defunct blog, The Tig (via Internet Archive), Meghan also revealed her mom's nickname for her. "I don't know, Flower. You were just born that way," Meghan quotes her mom as responding when asked how Meghan maintains a balance between work and humanitarianism. Meghan continued, "'It's just who you are,' she says. (And yes, she calls me, 'Flower.')" 

The Queen's grandchildren and great-grandchildren call her these names

When BBC's The One Show interviewed Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank about their upcoming wedding, the princess referred to the Queen as "Granny." In a speech thanking the Queen for her support to over 600 charities, Prince William referred to his grandmother by a variety of titles, including "Her Majesty," "Head of State," and "the Queen" before announcing to the crowd that he'd like to personally acknowledge her. "Granny, thank you for everything you've done for your family," said the prince. Following suit, Harry also addresses his grandmother by a title other than Her Majesty. When visiting schoolchildren in a remote part of New Zealand, they asked him if he calls the Queen "Nana." Harry replied, "I call her Granny."

The Queen's great-grandchildren, on the other hand, have a different nickname for their royal great-grandmother — or at least Prince George does. In a clip of the documentary Our Queen at 90 shared by Entertainment Tonight, Kate Middleton revealed: "George is only two and a half. He calls her, 'Gan-Gan.'" Queen Gan-Gan does have a nice ring to it.

William's pet name for the Duchess of Cambridge

During official engagements and interviews, William routinely refers to his wife as Catherine, not Kate as you might expect. In private, or at least when he's not speaking to the public, the prince calls her an even more endearing name than "Kate." According to Express, William is "regularly heard calling her 'poppet' in public." While "poppet" is not a word you hear very often in the United States, it is a common British term of endearment meaning "sweet or pretty child." 

In addition to Poppet and, of course, Kate, the duchess used to go by another name when she was younger. "I was nicknamed Squeak just like my guinea pig," she revealed in an interview (via Glamour), "There was one called Pip and one called Squeak, because my sister was called Pippa and I was Squeak." There's no telling if she'll answer to Squeak these days, but it seems Poppet and Kate have stood the test of time.

Even royal couples use this loving term

Until the early 1900s when it was first used to describe a woman, the term "babe" was only applied to children and didn't have any sort of romantic connotation. And it took until the 1970s before a man would be called "a real babe," according to The Cut. Nowadays, we pretty much call everyone babe, except for babies. Funny how that works, isn't it? You may be surprised to learn that even the royals have used the b-word. 

When Kate Middleton was attending the Royal Horticulture Society Flower Show, she apparently slipped up and called her husband the nickname. Charlie Albone, the garden's designer and Australian television presenter, told the British Today Show (via Grazia), "[Prince William] came up and said: 'What [flower] is this one?' After he answered the prince's question, Albone revealed that "Princess Catherine just turned to him and said, 'Babe, we've got those. We've got loads of those.'" Prince Babe it is. Got it.

Who are Gladys and Fred?

Even if you've been following the royal family for any length of time, you probably don't remember hearing about Prince Fred and Duchess Gladys. You will, however, know them by their other (ahem, real) names. When Prince Charles and Princess Diana were not yet married, the princess found out about his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Diana recounted the tale to her biographer, Andrew Morton, and said she'd found out about a bracelet her then-fiancée had made for his mistress. Morton wrote about their conversation in the late princess' biography, Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words"It's a gold chain bracelet with a blue enamel disc," she told him, "It's got 'G and F' entwined in it, 'Gladys' and 'Fred' — they were their nicknames." If the couple used the pseudonyms to avoid suspicion from the princess, it obviously did not work.

Further painting a picture of their grim relationship, the princess divulged: "He took the bracelet, lunchtime on Monday, we got married on the Wednesday." In 1996, Charles and Diana divorced and, in 2005, "Gladys" and "Fred" got married.

An unusual nickname for Princess Diana

Prince Charles wasn't the only one to have earned a nickname from an affair. "While she raged against her husband's infidelity,"  the biography Diana states, she, too, was cheating on her spouse. Although not her only extramarital lover, the book highlights her "brief dalliance with old friend James Gilbey." 

Between 1989 and 1990, the princess' phone calls were recorded and, some years later, her affair with James Gilbey would become public knowledge. The pet name Gilbey used to refer to Diana would also be revealed. As reported by The Telegraph, Gilbey called the princess "Squidgy" some 53 times. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "squidgy" is a British word that means "soft and wet and changing shape easily when pressed" — similar to the American word "squishy." You can only imagine how red Gilbey's face must've been when the embarrassing nickname was heard around the world.

Diana's boys and their silly nicknames

When interviewed for NBC's DatelineWilliam and Harry reflected on their childhood nicknames — at least one of which came from their mother, Princess Diana. "It began when I was two," William said of his nickname, "I've been rightfully told because I can't remember back that far." When in Australia with his parents, they learned of the wombat, "the local animal," as he explained. "So I just basically got called that. Not because I look like a wombat," he added, "Or maybe I do." Harry joked that his older brother was really called Wombat because he was too lazy to walk and, instead, crawled until the age of 6. Nice, Harry.

William went on to reveal that one of Harry's monikers was "Ginger." Of Harry's other nicknames, William explained, saying, "Most of them I can't call in front of here. You know, a bit rude." Oh to have been a fly on those palace walls.