What You Never Knew About Prince William

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Second in line to the British throne, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was born with his destiny decided as the someday King of England. When William does become king, he'll follow the seven-decade reign of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and the sure-to-be-shorter reign of his septuagenarian father, Prince Charles. Born in 1982, it didn't take young William long to realize his mother, Princess Diana, was one of the most famous people on the planet. In the years that followed, the world watched him grow up — and publicly endure his parents' messy divorce and his mother's horrific death.

Since becoming an adult, William has become husband to Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and father to their three children: Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte. William has also followed in his late mother's footsteps by devoting himself to a variety of charitable causes throughout his life.

Even though he's grown up under the glare of the international media spotlight, there's a lot about the Duke of Cambridge that may have escaped our memories. Read on to find out more of what you never knew about Prince William.

Prince William is the first future monarch to be born in a hospital

In hindsight, it's clear that Princess Diana made a concerted effort to shake up the royal status quo, and that certainly proved to be the case with the 1982 birth of Prince William. As Express pointed out, William was born in the Lindo Wing at London's St. Mary's Hospital, making him the first direct heir to the throne in British history to be born in a hospital. His father, Prince Charles, was delivered in Buckingham Palace, while grandmother Queen Elizabeth II entered the world in the home of her grandparents.

According to Town & Country, Diana told her biographer, Andrew Morton, that giving birth to William "had to be induced because I couldn't handle the press pressure any longer."

Meanwhile, natural childbirth expert Sheila Kitzinger shared with the Daily Mail that William's birth further broke from royal convention in that it was all natural. As Kitzinger explained, Diana gave birth to William while standing upright, Charles holding her for support to result in "the first active royal birth." This, she added, was "a complete contrast to the queen's reflection that, with modern anesthesia, birth had become 'a sleep and a forgetting.'"

Charles and Diana clashed over William's name

When Prince Charles and Princess Diana welcomed their firstborn, the couple did not see eye to eye on his name. As People recalled, Charles had a very specific name in mind, one that conjured up Britain's ancient past.

According to historian Robert Lacey, Charles' preferred name for the future king was Arthur, in honor of the legendary British monarch who founded the Knights of the Round Table and slayed his foes with the mystical sword dubbed Excalibur. Diana, however, had a very different idea, suggesting they, instead, name the baby after William the Conqueror, who took the throne by winning the bloody Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Ultimately, the couple reached a compromise of sorts, deciding to name their son William Arthur Philip Louis. Philip, of course, is in honor of William's grandfather, Prince Philip, while Louis was chosen in tribute to Lord Louis Mountbatten, the uncle of Charles' father.

The reason his mother nicknamed him 'wombat'

Despite all those names, Princess Diana came up with another one for Prince William when he was still a toddler, nicknaming her son "Wombat." In a 2007 interview with then-"Today" anchor Matt Lauer, William explained that the nickname came about while he, then 2 years old, and his parents visited Australia, where the wombat is the local animal. "So I just basically got called that. Not because I look like a wombat. Or maybe I do," William said, admitting the name "kind of stuck with me" as he grew older. "I can't get rid of it now." 

Interestingly enough, Wombat might not have been the only nickname to be given to William over the years. A 1986 story in People referenced unverified sources who claimed William was a bit of a terror in elementary school, with some parents calling him "the Basher" for his tendency to attack his classmates. Meanwhile, London Net shared an apocryphal story about William's service in the Royal Air Force, where he was known as "Flying Officer Wales." William's fellow officers noted that "Wales" sounded like "whales," and, so, they allegedly took to calling him "Billy the Fish."

Teenage William went 'bright red' when his mom surprised him with a bevy of supermodels

Despite Princess Diana's best efforts to provide her sons with as normal an upbringing as possible, it's fair to say that Prince William's childhood was pretty out of the ordinary. One great example of that is when the teenage prince suddenly found himself face-to-face with several of the world's top supermodels. As William said in the documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy," the whole thing was a surprise his mother had cooked up for his birthday. "When I came home from school [she organized] to have Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell waiting at the top of the stairs," William said, via People, recalling he was "probably 12 or 13" and had posters of the women on his bedroom walls. "And I went bright red and didn't quite know what to say and sort of fumbled," he added, admitting he felt "utterly sort of awestruck."

Interviewing Crawford for her "No Filter with Naomi" podcast, Campbell clarified that it was actually she, Turlington, and Claudia Schiffer who surprised William (Crawford had her own separate meeting with Diana) but confirmed that William did, indeed, "blush" during the encounter.

He has a 'Harry Potter scar' on his forehead

One of the distinguishing features of Prince William's visage is a prominent scar on his forehead, just above his eyebrow near his left temple. In a 2009 BBC interview, William revealed the scar was the result of being accidentally hit on the head when he was younger. William referrs to it as his "Harry Potter scar," referencing novelist J.K. Rowling's fictional wizard who sports a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead. "I call it that because it glows sometimes and some people notice it — other times they don't notice it at all," William explained.

While William would love for his scar to have some dramatic origin story, the truth is not all that dramatic. "I got hit by a golf club when I was playing golf with a friend of mine," he explained to the BBC. "We were on a putting green and the next thing you know there was a seven-iron and it came out of nowhere and it hit me in the head." The blow to his head, he added, was severe enough that he needed to be hospitalized.

William was furious with Princess Diana after her infamous Panorama interview

The relationship between Prince William's parents hit a particularly rough patch in the mid-1990s. It was irreparably broken, however, when Princess Diana sat down for her infamous interview with journalist Martin Bashir for BBC's "Panorama" in 1995. As the Independent detailed, Diana went rogue, opening up about her struggles with bulimia, and confirmed rampant rumors that husband Prince Charles was enmeshed in an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. As she infamously uttered, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

Diana's scorched-earth revelations not only sent shockwaves throughout the royal family, but they also had a deep impact on young William. According to Penny Junor's biography, "Prince William: Born To Be King" (as reported by The Telegraph), William was attending boarding school at the time. Prior to the "Panorama" episode airing on TV, Diana visited William at school, promising the interview would "not contain anything controversial" and "would make him proud of her."

Not surprisingly, William felt blindsided when he watched. According to Junor, the prince was "deeply upset," further describing William as being "angry and incredulous" at what his mother had done.

The heartbreaking reason Prince William once wanted to be a cop

Had he not been the firstborn male son of the heir to the throne of England, Prince William may have gone down an entirely different vocational path. As he divulged in an interview with the BBC, he had once considered a career in law enforcement. "A long time ago I wanted to be a policeman, when I was younger," he said. "I soon learnt that probably wasn't a good idea."

However, it's likely that William's fleeting desire to be a cop may have had psychological roots stemming from his childhood desire to protect his mother. In an excerpt from his book, "William's Princess," published in Express, journalist Robert Jobson wrote that Princess Diana "leaned heavily on her eldest son in her times of need — times when William was still just a little boy."

According to Jobson, William's need to be his mother's defender clearly manifested itself at a young age. "He once told her he wanted to be a policeman so he could protect her," wrote Jobson. "Her heart must have ached with love at his earnest words."

He came up with a clever trick to prevent Harry from wearing his shoes

As young men, Prince William and younger brother Prince Harry lived together in Clarence House (a royal residence adjacent to St. James' Palace in London). Apparently, the brothers had similarly sized feet, leading Harry to allegedly wear his older brother's shoes on occasion — either by accident or by design. 

According to a report in The Telegraph, William was attending a charity gala when observers noticed the letter "W" written on the soles of each of his shoes. "William and Harry are similar in shoe size, so I think this is his way of making sure he's wearing the right shoes," a "royal source" told the outlet. "It's quite sweet, really."

As it turned out, William wasn't the only one to stake his claim to a pair of shoes to avoid confusion. In 2015, reported PopSugar, Harry attended the WellChild Awards in London, where he was photographed with brass shoe tacks on the soles of his footwear that spelled out the letter "H."

Prince William once split up with Kate Middleton

Prince William met Kate Middleton in 2001, noted a relationship timeline in Glamour, while the two were students at the University of St. Andrews. They wed in 2011 and have since welcomed three children. While it's easy, in hindsight, to portray their relationship as something of a fairytale royal romance, the reality was a little more complicated. This was evident in their highly-publicized split in 2007. 

The breakup came about while William was stationed with the Household Cavalry outside London. At that point, absence did not make the prince's heart grow fonder, and he pulled the plug (though they reconciled later that same year). "It was very much trying to find our own way, and we were growing up so it was just a bit of space, and it worked out for the better," William explained in their engagement interview. Duchess Kate, however, admitted, "At the time I wasn't very happy about it, but it actually made me a stronger person," she said.

One bit of unintended fallout from the breakup and subsequent reconciliation was the cheeky nickname she was given by the British press, "Waity Katie."

The sneaky secret employed by William's tailor to keep him cool on his wedding day

A few years after Prince William and Kate Middleton reconciled, they married. This was no ordinary exchange of vows, but a royal extravaganza that cost $34 million and was reportedly viewed by more than 2 billion people throughout the world. 

With the nuptials taking place within Westminster Abbey, William was worried that if he began to perspire while wearing his heavy military garb, it could result in unsightly pit-stains that no royal would ever want to be seen with (unfortunately, he did not suffer from the "peculiar medical condition" that made sweating "almost impossible" for his uncle, Prince Andrew).

As tailor Russell Kashket of Kashket and Partners told the Daily Mail, William had expressed concern that not only would he become a sweaty mess beneath the hot lights in the Abbey, but that he might actually faint from the heat — never a good look on one's wedding day. As a result, the tailors added sweat-absorbing pads under the arms of William's jacket and reduced the amount of padding. "We worked together to get the look he wanted, while making sure he didn't pass out in front of [2] billion people," noted Kashket.

The surprising reason why Prince William doesn't wear a wedding band

When a married man is regularly seen out and about without wearing his wedding ring, rumors are almost certainly going to spark. However, this doesn't apply to Prince William, who is never seen in public wearing a wedding band. There's a simple reason for that: He doesn't want to and doesn't have to. As a St. James' Palace aide told the Daily Mail, William "isn't one for jewelry" and simply decided he'd rather go sans-ring. "It really is just down to personal preference," said the aide. In fact, another source told the newspaper that it's actually "quite common for men in that strata of society" to abstain from wearing a wedding band. 

In making that decision, William followed the example of his grandfather, Prince Philip, who never once wore a wedding band during the course of his 73-year marriage to Queen Elizabeth II. 

Peter York, co-author of "The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook," offered an explanation for why aristocratic British men eschew rings. "It is code, like so many of these things," York told The Telegraph, noting "there is a group of upper-class people who think the less of that stuff you wear the better, less bling."

The unusual parenting book that Prince William used to prepare for fatherhood

While there's a perception that royal parenting involves nannies doing the bulk of the work while fathers play polo and hunt pheasant, Prince William seemingly shattered those expectations. According to a 2013 report from Vanity Fair (via Today), William prepped for fatherhood by immersing himself in "Commando Dad: Basic Training," a parenting manual written by former Royal Engineer Commando Neil Sinclair, "loosely based on the British Army's Basic Battle Skills."

As Sinclair wrote for The Telegraph, his aim was to give other first-time fathers a "clear, concise manual offering straightforward advice on the practical skills [they] would need to be an effective dad."

The hands-on parenting style of William and wife Kate Middleton has certainly endeared them to fans, but the queen? Not so much. According to a 2018 report in Express, Her Majesty "couldn't get her head around" the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spending time with their children in the kitchen. Apparently, the queen "can't stand" that particular habit, because she's always viewed kitchens as a place where staff prepare meals, certainly an inappropriate locale for royals to congregate.

Prince William is the president of Britain's equivalent of the Oscars

Among Prince William's various duties and assorted titles (a gold star for anyone who knew he's both the Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and Baron Carrickfergus) is one that positively drips with showbiz glamour: president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), a role he's held since 2010. Each year, the academy hosts a star-studded award show honoring the best of British film and television, known as the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of the Oscars and the Emmys combined into one.  

William has been a fixture at the BAFTAs each year since becoming president, a title previously held by his grandfather, Prince Philip, who became BAFTA's very first president back in 1959.

During the 2020 awards, William poked fun at Netflix series "The Crown," which dramatizes the lives of the royals. Noting he was "particularly proud" to have been BAFTA's president for a decade, reported Town & Country, William quipped in his speech, "I must admit I don't know whether I should be proud, or slightly alarmed, about the number of winners over the last decade who have portrayed members of my own family."

Prince William has an unusual hobby for a royal

During his early 20s, Prince William became enamored with surfing. In fact, BBC News reported in 2004 that he and a college friend were spotted hitting the waves. According to William, he enjoyed the solitude of the sport, particularly when underwater. "There's no noise," he described. "It's just you breathing. You're in a different world with the fish."

Of course, his experience may have been a bit different had he ventured to Hawaii or Australia. Instead, William's surfing adventure took place off the coast of Scotland — in October. "It was a bit like putting your head in a freezer when you went under water, but the wetsuit I've got is pretty good," he said of being submerged in the frigid North Atlantic, admitting that, at one point, he "couldn't feel [his] hands for about half an hour."

According to Surfer Today, William has also been spotted surfing in Portugal, where the water was, hopefully, warmer and didn't require a wetsuit.