Why does Prince William call Harry 'Harold'? His nickname and full name explained

The meaning behind the brotherly nickname

a close up of Prince William and Prince Harry dressed in tuxedos on the red carpet
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

As more details emerge from the Prince's new memoir, royal fans want to know why does Prince William call Harry 'Harold' - and whether his brother has one in return for the future king.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been dominating headlines of late thanks in part to the Harry and Meghan Netflix series (opens in new tab) released in December and the arrival of Spare - Prince Harry's memoir - this January. The no-details-spared book has led to a number of new revelations coming to light including Camilla turning Harry's bedroom into a dressing room (opens in new tab) and the 'soul-crushing' three words William used about Princess Diana (opens in new tab).

In another particularly explosive claim, Harry alleges William 'attacked' him when a heated exchange turned physical sometime in 2019. Understandably some have been left shocked by the story, but there's other details from the incident in question which has led to some wider curiousity too. A nickname for Prince Harry was used by Prince William in the published extract which has had many scratching their heads. We've shared why Prince William might call Harry 'Harold' - and it's not as simple as you might think.

Why does Prince William call Harry 'Harold'?

In Prince Harry's memoir Spare, it came to light that Prince William regularly calls his brother 'Harold' instead. Whilst there's no official explanation on this, one reason could be that Harry is often a shorter nickname for Harold.

Though Harry is a moniker for Harold - it is not Prince Harry's real name. So some have questioned whether this is the real reason behind the nickname. Others have alleged (opens in new tab) that Prince William calls his brother Harold owing to a historical event. During the Battle of Hastings in October 1066, it was William the Conquerer who defeated then-king Harold II of England. This theory is again unproven though.

Spare by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex (Hardcover) – £14 | Amazon  (opens in new tab)

Spare by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex (Hardcover) – £14 | Amazon  (opens in new tab)

For Harry, this is that story at last. With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.

Prince William's nickname for Harry first came to public attention following The Guardian (opens in new tab)'s publication of an extract from Harry's memoir Spare. In it, the younger Prince details a row and physical altercation between him and William.

Taking place in 2019 at Notts Cottage based on the grounds of Kensington Palace, Harry alleges that William came round to his residence furious and ready for an argument. The Prince of Wales is said to have called Meghan 'difficult', 'rude' and 'abrasive' during the row.

"Willy, I can’t speak to you when you’re like this," Harry responds, giving his brother a glass of water. "He set down the water, called me another name, then came at me," Harry continues. "It all happened so fast. So very fast. He grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor. I landed on the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me. I lay there for a moment, dazed, then got to my feet and told him to get out.”

Harry adds that William then encouraged Harry to hit him back, much like the fights they had as children. Though Harry says he refused.

William left and a little while later returned to the cottage "looking regretful, and apologised". Before leaving for a second time, Harry says that William told him: "You don’t need to tell Meg about this."

"You mean that you attacked me?," Harry replies. To which William responds: "I didn’t attack you, Harold."

Harold is often considered as a name that's dying out (opens in new tab) in recent decades, with the boys name (opens in new tab) not making it into the most popular baby names (opens in new tab) of the last few years.

a side by side collage of Prince William and Prince Harry

(Image credit: Future)

What is Prince Harry's real name?

Prince Harry's real and full name is Henry Charles Albert David. This is the name he was christened with, though he's more commonly known as Harry by family, friends and the wider public.

The 38-year-old talked about his differing names in October 2022, when congratulating a winner of the WellChild Awards - of which Prince Harry is patron. Chatting to a child named Henry, he said: "My name is Henry as well, but everyone calls me Harry. I have no idea why."

Harry has long been considered a nickname or variant of the name Henry (coming from the French name 'Henri') It's been reported that other royals bearing the name Henry have also traditionally been called Harry, particularly in Medieval England. King Henry VIII is said to be one famous example.

What does Prince Harry call William?

In the same Guardian extract, Prince Harry calls William 'Willy' - suggesting it is his nickname for his brother. 'Willy' is a shortened version of the name William which explains why Harry calls his brother this.

According to The Mirror (opens in new tab), Kate Middleton used to call her now husband 'Big Willy' when the two were dating at University. Though it's been reported that the nickname is no longer used as "they certainly couldn’t get away with using [it] today."

During Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding (opens in new tab), it was reported that Harry's best man speech alluded to this nickname, with Harry doing "a high-pitched impersonation of Kate calling William one of her favorite nicknames 'Big Willy'." (Per the Daily Star (opens in new tab)).

Video of the Week

Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.