Ever since his engagement to Meghan Markle, Prince Harry seems to make headlines any time he steps out with his new bride. Even though there’s literally been thousands of stories written about him ever since he was born, there are still some little known facts you may not know about the Duke of Sussex.
In celebration of his upcoming 34th birthday this month, here are 30 little known facts about everyone’s favorite royal—all of which will make you love him even more than you already do. And for more fun facts about Prince Harry, check out 25 Reasons Why Prince Harry is the Coolest Royal.
His given name isn’t Harry.
He was christened Henry Charles Albert David of Wales on 21 December 1984 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is officially Prince Henry of Wales. His official surname is Mountbatten-Windsor. To read more about Prince Harry, check out 15 Reasons Why Prince Harry is the Most Romantic Royal.
His security detail has a nickname for him.
It’s rumored that he goes by the nickname of “Spike Wells” with some friends and his Scotland Yard protection officers. It was also reported that Harry maintained a Facebook account with that name name.
He was bossed around by his big brother when he was a kid.
Harry, who was very close to his mother, Princess Diana, as a little boy, was constantly bossed around by his big brother (“The Basher”) Prince William, who was considered the “naughty one.”
His polo prowess was evident early on.
Harry loved riding right away and was off on his Shetland pony by the time he was four years-old.
He had a pet rabbit as a child.
Harry’s lop-eared rabbit lived in a hutch in a corner of the stable yard at Highgrove that he and his brother took care of themselves. He also loved the estate’s sheep and would spend hours filling their water buckets and giving them hay.
He loved acting in school plays.
As a preschooler, Harry started out on stage playing a goblin in the Christmas play. The next year, he had a speaking role as a shepherd.
His mother called Harry “My little Spencer.”
Princess Diana gave him the moniker because his red hair comes from her family—all of her siblings were gingers when they were young.
He was bullied when he was just a toddler.
At Jane Mynors Nursery School in London, three year-old Harry didn’t find it easy to make friends and was reportedly picked on by bullies.
His schooling was affected by his mother’s death.
Harry stayed an extra year at Ludgrove in 1997, the year Diana died. He started at Eton at 14 instead of 13, like most other students.
He fell in love with Africa in 1997.
That year, he visited the continent for the first time when he accompanied Prince Charles to Botswana and South Africa. He met Nelson Mandela and the Spice Girls on that fateful trip.
At first, he felt like an outsider at Eton.
In his first year at Eton, the other boys mistook Harry’s reserve as smugness. He was actually still grieving for his mother. He struggled with academics and with comparisons with his brother throughout his time at the school.
He was accused of cheating.
The prince faced a tribunal at Eton after being accused of having someone write part of his coursework for his A levels. After an investigation was completed, it was determined that he was innocent.
He is artistic like his father.
Harry was never a strong student academically. At Eton, he got a “D” in Geography and a “B” in Art. Prince Charles, an avid painter, got his son into painting, something he still enjoys. And for more celebrities who double as artists, check out these 30 Celebs with Amazing Hidden Talents.
He has his own Coat of Arms.
When Harry turned 18 in 2002, his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, gave him his own Coat of Arms. He was actively involved in designing the crest which incorporates an emblem from his mother’s family arms.
He has suffered other personal losses.
Besides losing his mother when he was just 12 years-old, one of Harry’s best friends from Ludgrove, Henry van Straubenzee, died in a car crash right before Christmas in 2002.
He’s friends with actor Dominic West.
Harry was planning to work for the entire year on a cattle ranch in Australia for his gap year but the non-stop press attention made it impossible, so he left earlier than originally planned.
His friend Dominic West and his brother, Damian West, arranged for him to go to Lesotho, Africa, to work with children orphaned by AIDS. The trip proved life-changing when he met Crown Prince Seeiso. He later founded his charity, Sentebale, to help the country’s orphans, with the prince. He remains close to the West brothers.
He once thought someone in his circle was leaking personal info to the press.
Before the News of the World phone-hacking scandal broke, both Harry and William suspected their friends of leaking details about their personal lives to the tabloid. They were angry—but relieved—to learn the stories were actually the result of their phones being hacked.
He made history as a solider.
Harry was the first member of the royal family in active combat during his time in Afghanistan since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew helicopters in the Falklands War in 1982.
He won an award for his piloting skills.
The top military officers consider the prince an “instinctive flyer.” It was considered a great honor to be chosen to fly Apache helicopters, which Harry flew while serving in the military, and of the 20 in his training course, he was awarded the best copilot gunner trophy.
He did some of his military training in the United States.
Harry trained in the California and Arizona deserts in 2011 with Apache helicopters during Exercise Crimson Eagle.
He has a hidden musical talent.
Harry played the tambourine in the official song for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
His cousin, Princess Eugenie, once played matchmaker for him.
In 2012, Harry met his former girlfriend, Cressida Bonas (above), through Eugenie, who is quite close with the actress. (The couple broke up in 2014.) He’ll meet up with her again later this fall when Bonas attends Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank.
He’s on his father’s payroll.
All of Harry’s and William’s money comes from their father’s income generated through the Duchy of Cornwall. Prince Charles (who also holds the title Duke of Cornwall) is also footing the bill for Meghan Markle’s (and Kate Middleton‘s) designer wardrobe.
U.S. veterans inspired him to create The Invictus Games.
Harry decided to create the Invictus Games after attending the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs in 2013.
Kate Middleton is one of his most trusted confidantes.
Harry is extremely close to Kate and considers her “the sister he never had.” After his break-up with Cressida and before he met Meghan, he spent plenty of time hanging around William and Kate’s apartment at Kensington Palace where Kate often made him special roast chicken dinners. What is it with Harry and roast chicken?
He loves dinosaurs.
When Harry was dating Meghan, he arranged for the Natural History Museum in London to open one night just for them so they could tour the exhibits alone.
He is the second tallest British royal in the family.
Harry is 6’2″ bested only by his brother William, who is an inch taller at 6’3.
He was once very lucky on an unlucky day.
On Friday the 13th in December 2013, Harry and his fellow adventurers reached the South Pole to raise money for the charity Walking With The Wounded. The group trekked for more than three weeks across Antarctica in frigid, below zero temperatures. When he arrived at the Pole, Harry remarked, the date was “unlucky for some, but not for us.”