The Secret Nickname Prince Philip Has for Queen Elizabeth

The Duke's nickname for Her Majesty might just make you swoon.

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Most couples have endearing (and often embarrassing) pet names for each other—and having been married for an astonishing 72 years, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are no exception. While no one knows what Her Majesty calls her husband behind Palace walls, the rumors about Philip's endearing and unusual nickname for the Queen have mystified royal watchers for decades. In the recent ITV documentary Inside the Crown: Secrets of the Royals, veteran royal photographer Ken Lennox revealed that, in private, the Duke of Edinburgh calls his wife "cabbage."

"He calls her 'cabbage' for goodness sake!" Lennox said. "Can you imagine calling the Queen that?"

There has been some speculation that Philip's surprising nickname for the Queen comes from mon petit chou, a French way of saying "my darling." In English, the literal translation is "my little cabbage," although it actually comes from an abbreviation of the expression mon petit chou à la crème, which means "my little pastry puff."

It's unclear where Philip's affectionate nickname for the Queen came from, but in 2006, royal biographer Robert Lacey confirmed it to The Sunday Times, saying, "Yes, I've heard that is how he will sometimes refer to her." (Philip has also been known to call the Queen by the slightly less romantic sobriquet: "sausage.")

Your Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 2003
Agencja Fotograficzna Caro / Alamy Stock Photo

Royal watchers first picked up on the curious moniker in the 2006 Oscar-winning film The Queen. In one scene, Elizabeth, (Helen Mirren) is lying in bed at Balmoral as she and Philip (James Cromwell) are discussing the details of Princess Diana's funeral. When the Duke has decided he's had enough for one day, he removes his dressing gown and says: "Move over, cabbage," as he gets into bed with his wife.

When the film premiered, screenwriter Peter Morgan (who also created the beloved royal series The Crown) told The Times, "I inquired in royal circles and was told on very good authority that that is what the Duke sometimes calls the Queen."

Philip's quirky nickname for Elizabeth reveals a much more playful and softer side of their relationship than the public ever sees. In Inside the Crown: Secrets of the Royals, Lennox described Philip as the Queen's "constant strength." "He is not the kind of man you'd expect to follow a few footsteps behind someone else. He is very forthright, but he has attended to the Queen," Lennox said. "He has represented her. He did everything he could to help her."

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The couple has lived apart since Philip's retirement from public life in 2017 when he moved to Wood Farm Cottage on the Queen's Sandringham estate. As head of state, the Queen is required to live at Buckingham Palace in London while her husband enjoys the country life he has always preferred. But that doesn't mean their relationship has faltered. Lacey told People, "Their life together has always been built on regular separations. They are not a soppy couple."

Philip and Her Majesty were reunited earlier this year when the Queen left London in March during the outbreak of COVID-19 and relocated to Windsor Castle where she was joined by Philip. That's where she plans to stay for the duration of the outbreak. It's the first time in two years the couple has lived under the same roof. According to The Daily Mail, the Queen and the Duke are planning a private lunch to celebrate Philip's 99th birthday on Jun. 10. A source told the outlet, "He's not one for fuss, as you know." And for more on the future of the monarchy, check out Why Queen Elizabeth Could Be Considering Stepping Down, Insiders Say.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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