Skip to content

27 Facts About Prince William That You Never Knew

From his promise to Diana to his Harry Potter connection, here's what you don't know about the future king.

While Prince William has lived his entire life in front of the world, there are still plenty of things about the future king of England you probably didn't know. For example, while he's the model of decorum now, Wills—as he was known as a toddler—was a bit of a bully during his preschool years, earning him a less than favorable nickname. And though the Duke of Cambridge has been very open about his close relationship with his late mother, Princess Diana, few people know about the extraordinary promise he made to her after her divorce from his father, Prince Charles. But that's hardly all. In honor of his birthday on Jun. 21, here are 27 surprising facts you haven't heard about Prince William. And if you're more of a Prince Harry fan, check out these 30 Little Known Facts About Prince Harry That Will Make You Love Him Even More.

His parents couldn't agree on his name.

PRINCE CHARLES and Diana, Princess of Wales, with their first child Prince William, at kenington Palace, London, in December 1982, surprising prince william facts
Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Prince Charles and Princess Diana clashed over what to name their firstborn son. Charles favored Albert (after Queen Victoria's husband) while Diana wanted Sebastian or Oliver. In the end, they compromised with William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor.

William was known as "Baby Wales" for a week before his given name was announced to the world—just like his nephew Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was known as "Baby Sussex" for days after his birth before his name was revealed. And for more about the Prince of Wales, check out 15 Facts You Never Knew About Prince Charles.

He was a royal terror to his young classmates.

Prince charles and prince william at sandringham
Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

When he was a preschool student at Mrs. Mynors' Nursery School in London in the mid 1980s, little Wills quickly became known as "The Basher" for his bullying ways of pushing to the front of the line and getting into playground fights. Diana and Charles were horrified, but the other parents dared not say anything for fear of insulting the future king. And for some of Prince William's father's less-than-favorable moments, here are Prince Charles' Most Controversial Moments That You've Forgotten About.

He broke royal tradition as an infant.

Diana and William and Harry getting off an airplane
Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

In 1985, when Charles and Diana were set to travel to New Zealand and Australia for their first tour after becoming parents, the princess was insistent that nine-month-old William travel on the same plane as they did. This was a huge break in royal protocol, which, up until that point, dictated that the two successive heirs to the throne travel separately in the event of a fatal accident. But Diana got what she wanted.

History poignantly repeated itself when William and Kate Middleton brought baby Prince George along for the very same royal tour in 2014. And for more on William's offspring, check out Princess Charlotte's Life in Photos.

He has a personal connection to Harry Potter.

Harry Potter shows lightning bolt scar
Warner Bros. Pictures

William has something in common with the beloved Hogwarts student—and it's not his Quidditch skills. In 1991, the prince was hit in the forehead with a golf club by a classmate. The accident left him with a lighting bolt-shaped scar, just like Harry Potter's!

He's left-handed, but learned to play polo with his right hand.

The Duke of Cambridge (left) and the Duke of Sussex playing polo at Coworth Park, Ascot.
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

William is part of the 10 percent of the world's population with a dominant left hand. This posed a problem for the polo-loving prince when he took up the sport. The rules of the game only permit the use of the right hand. According to Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers, the president of the World Polo Governing Body, William's dogged determination helped him master playing with his right hand, which he continues to do to this day. And for more on how William and his family stay in shape, check out The Secret Ways All of the British Royals Stay Fit.

As a teenager, he had a thing for Cindy Crawford

cindy crawford

When he was a teenager, Prince William had a huge crush on supermodel Cindy Crawford. In the documentary Diana Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, William recounted the day in the early 1990s when his mother surprised him by arranging for Crawford, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell to be waiting for him at the top of the stairs when he returned home from school. The prince recalled, "I went bright red and didn't know quite what to say. And sort of fumbled and I think pretty much fell down the stairs on the way up."

Diana worried most about William when her marriage fell apart.

Prince Harry, Princess Diana, and Prince Harry in 1996

Diana had always confided in William, even though he was just a child, particularly while her marriage to Prince Charles was unraveling. But she began to worry it had taken too much of a toll on her son. In 1992, she confided to a friend she "was worried about William" because "he's too sensitive; he feels everything too much," according to royal biographer Christopher Andersen.

He was furious with his mother over revealing her affair.

princess diana in car

Princess Diana had kept her explosive tell-all interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC1 program Panorama in 1995 a secret from everyone, including her sons. An hour after the broadcast aired, she called William, who was away at school, to talk to him and he refused to speak to her. Several accounts have reported he was angry at her for discussing her affair with his former riding instructor, James Hewitt, and he allegedly felt her remarks about Charles cast doubt on his ability to carry out his duty as king.

He made a special promise to Diana.

Young prince william and princess diana
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

When the princess was stripped of her "Her Royal Highness" title when her divorce became final in 1996, William consoled his mother by telling her he would restore her royal title when he became king. And for more on the current royal matriarch, here are 13 Secrets About Queen Elizabeth Only Royal Insiders Know.

He disliked summering with the Fayeds.

Princess Diana in St. Tropez
Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

During that fateful summer in 1997, Diana decided to take William and Harry with her aboard Mohamed Al-Fayed's yacht, the Jonikal. The boys had plenty of expensive toys on the trip, like high powered Jet Skis, and Dodi Fayed tried everything he could do to win them over—even renting out a disco for them. But friends told me William did not like his mother's growing friendship with the Fayeds.

"He couldn't wait to get away from them," a royal insider confided. "The prince was uncomfortable with the whole thing. He wanted to go to Balmoral like he did every summer. He didn't like being fussed over and he didn't like that his mother was growing closer to Dodi." And for more on William's late mother, check out The 6 Biggest Unanswered Questions Surrounding Princess Diana's Death.

He did not want to walk behind his mother's casket.

the procession at the funeral of princess diana

When plans were made for Diana's funeral, her brother Charles Spencer was insistent on walking behind his sister's casket. Prince Charles disapproved of the idea of Spencer walking alone and insisted he be part of the procession as well. The Palace thought it would be best if 15-year-old William and 12-year-old Harry accompany their father. At first, William was adamantly opposed to the idea and relented only when Prince Philip asked if he would do so if he walked along side him. In the BBC documentary Diana, 7 Days, William described the experience as a "long and lonely walk" that he did out of "duty."

He earned a goofy nickname while serving in the Royal Air Force.

Prince William awkwardly grins during a 2017 visit to Germany, prince william surprising facts

William joined the Royal Air Force in 2008 and was known by his fellow airmen as Billy the Fish, a pun on his name, William Wales.

He had a trick to prevent Harry from stealing his shoes.

Prince William of Wales, Prince Harry of Wales attend the Trooping The Colour ceremony marking the Queen Elizabeth II's birthday at the Horse Guards Parade in London, United Kingdom, 13 June 2009. Thousands of people have turned up to watch the parade dating back to the 17th century.

Both William and Harry favor handmade oxfords from John Lobb. And during the princes' bachelor days when they shared an apartment in Kensington Palace, William would reportedly mark the soles of his shoes with a "W" to avoid any mix-ups.

He once broke up with Kate over the phone.

kate middleton empathetic

In 2007, when William was feeling pressure from all sides about getting engaged, he decided he wasn't ready to get married. The 25-year-old future king rang Kate up at her office at Jigsaw, a fashion company where she was working as an assistant buyer in accessories, and broke up with her—proving that sometimes even handsome princes can be frogs. The couple reunited a few months later and the rest, as they say, is history. And for the Cambridges cutest moments, check out William and Kate's Most Adorable Couples Moments Through the Years.

He had to trade with Harry to get Diana's engagement ring.

prince harry and prince william smile together
Guy Corbishley/Alamy Live News

When William did decide to propose to Kate, he wanted to give her Diana's iconic diamond engagement ring, but it belonged to Prince Harry at the time.

When Diana died in 1997, her butler, Paul Burrell, took both boys to her Kensington Palace apartment where they chose special items that belonged to their mother as remembrances of her, as Burrell recalled in his book, A Royal Duty. Harry chose Diana's engagement ring while William selected her gold Cartier watch.

Since marriage was the furthest thing on Harry's mind in 2010, the brothers traded the priceless keepsakes. That's why Meghan Markle missed out on the stunning 18-carat sapphire and diamond ring that Kate proudly wears today.

Kate's bridal bouquet was a testament to her love for William.

Lily of the Valley plants that can kill

Kate Middleton's wedding bouquet was a lovely mixture of white flowers, which included lily of the valley, hyacinth, myrtle, and sweet William.

He had a secret feature sewn into his wedding day ensemble.

prince William kate Middleton wedding

William looked dashing in his uniform of the Irish Guards on his wedding day, but he was concerned about becoming too warm and sweating under the glaringly hot lights of the television cameras, so he requested custom sweat pads be sewn into his jacket so he wouldn't be seen perspiring.

He doesn't wear a wedding ring.

prince william and kate middleton smile and wave

While Prince Harry wears a gold wedding band, William doesn't wear a ring at all. His decision follows a long standing tradition that kings-to-be generally have not worn wedding bands.

He took Kate on her first trip to New York.

Prince William Waves at camera at Barclays Nets Game with Kate Middleton

William took his wife on a trip across the pond to the Big Apple in 2014 while Kate was pregnant with Princess Charlotte. The couple was there on official royal business, but still managed to take in a Brooklyn Nets basketball game during their stay (where they met Beyoncé and Jay-Z). They declined to pucker up for the kiss cam, opting instead for friendly and decidedly more royal wave (as ABC News captured here).

He went all-in preparing to be a dad.

Prince George Introduced to world by Prince William and Kate Middleton
S Kozakiewicz / Shutterstock

According to Vanity Fair, William told friends that before the birth of Prince George in 2013, he studied Commando Dad: Basic Training, an army-style handbook.

He's got great taste in jewelry.

Kate Middleton and Prince William

Besides giving Kate his mother's breathtaking engagement ring, William also gifted his wife the matching diamond and sapphire earrings after their wedding. While Diana wore them as posts, Kate has had them remodeled into delicate drop earrings, which she wears often.

His favorite wedding gift was very unique.

Yard with an Old Swing Set

One of William's favorite wedding gifts was a wooden swing that has "William and Catherine" engraved on it. As Hello! reported, Prince George has been photographed playing on it at the family's country home, Anmer Hall in Norfolk. Perhaps it served as inspiration for the family-friendly swing that was such a hit as part of Kate's family garden at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show.

Fatherhood has made William more emotional.

Kate Middleton and Prince William bring Princess Charlotte and Prince George for their first day of school at Thomas's Battersea in London in Sept. 2019
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

William said in an ITV documentary that since becoming a father, he is "a lot more emotional than [he] used to be." He added: "Now the smallest little things, you well up a little more, you get affected by the sort of things that happen around the world a lot more. Just because you realize how precious life is and it puts it all in perspective."

He's got a sweet tooth.

chocolate cake on butcher block

William's favorite cake is chocolate biscuit cake, which is made using tea biscuits and dark chocolate. It sets in the fridge rather than being baked in an oven. According to royal chef Darren McGrady, the prince requested one be served as his groom's cake at his wedding in 2011.

He's a big television fan.

Jack Gleeson in Game of Thrones (2011)

William and Kate are said to be huge fans of several television series, including Australian soap Neighbours as well as Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones, which Harry and Meghan also loved.

But he's not a fan of spicy foods.

chicken curry

In 2016, William told a group of students visiting Buckingham Palace that he "struggles" with spices and prefers more bland foods. But Kate has said that they eat a lot of curry when spending evenings in, so Will's must be of the milder variety. Fun fact: It's not usually delivered—they like to go and pick it up themselves.

He's got a secret stylist.

Prince William wears tux
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

According to British GQ, William has become more stylish and relaxed on official tours, thanks to some stealth style tips from Kate's stylist, Natasha Archer. The trusted fashion advisor is credited with encouraging the prince to sport Ray-Ban aviator shades at events like Wimbledon and suggested he wear more slim lined suits and blazers.

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