British Royals Reportedly Use Nicknames With Each Other to Ease ‘Family Tension’

TL;DR: 

  • Many British royals have nicknames. 
  • They reportedly use them to reduce “family tension” and have fun when they’re not in public.
  • Nicknames can also be useful for security purposes.

Many nicknames are associated with the British royal family. There’s “the firm” and the “institution.” Then there are the titles ranging from duke and duchess to prince and princess. And, of course, there are their first names. When royals are in private, they might use family nicknames or other cheeky ways to refer to their relatives. This, reportedly, is more than just a term of endearment but a way to relieve stress and have fun. 

Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, Meghan Markle, and many other British royals have nicknames

Royals have more nicknames than the ones given to them by the media, such as “waity Katie” or the “fab four.” 

For instance, Queen Elizabeth II’s nickname, which dates back to her childhood, is “Lilibet.” The nickname stuck, with only those closest to the now-96-year-old using the moniker. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 1-year-old daughter is named Lilibet after Queen Elizabeth. 

As for other royals, reports say Prince Charles calls the Duchess of Sussex “tungsten,” after a type of metal known for its strength. Charles and his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, once referred to themselves as “Fred” and “Gladys.”

Meanwhile, Meghan’s been known to call her husband, the Duke of Sussex, “H.” On one public outing, she slipped up and called Harry “my love” in front of the Hamilton cast. 

Additional royal family nicknames, among others, include “Wills” or “Wombat” for Prince William, and “Duchess of Do-little” or “DoD” for Kate Middleton. 

British royals reportedly use nicknames to let loose from their public lives

It’s typical of royals to use full names in public. For example, William won’t be referred to as “Wills,” nor will Queen Elizabeth be called “Lilibet.” It’s also probably why the Duchess of Cambridge reportedly asked friends not to call her Kate in the lead-up to William’s marriage proposal

So, when they’re not at an official public event representing the monarchy, they often use family nicknames. A royal source told the U.K.’s The Sun they serve a few purposes.  

“The royals are not very good at communicating with one another, so this is one way around it,” they said. “Nicknames are a way of taking the family tension out of things.” 

Describing them as a “rather childlike family,” the source continued, saying “they love to play games and they give each other silly presents.” The reason, they believed, is “because they have to be so earnest in their public lives.”

“Royals have always played in private,” they added, saying it’s “done with affection usually and there are grains of truth about what one feels about another.”

Nicknames are also useful for security purposes

Queen Elizabeth, who is one of the royal family members with nicknames, smiles holding flowers as she greets crowds
Queen Elizabeth II | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Another “palace insider” shared that another reason for royal family nicknames is security. “Nicknames for the royals may seem like a bit of fun. But they do sometimes use them to identify one another while not making that information public.”

There’s even a code word system for royals. The code word for Queen Elizabeth’s death is “Operation London Bridge.” So, if a staff member hears the phrase, “London Bridge is down,” they know the monarch’s died.

On top of her family nicknames, and the code for her demise, Queen Elizabeth has yet another nickname. It’s been said security refers to her as a “Sharon” or “S” when she’s in public. 

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