15 Things You Probably Never Knew About Prince William

With the shy smile of his mother, Princess Diana, the charming Prince William has endeared himself to the public since he was a boy. Find out what the future king is really like.

Change is in the air for Prince William. He is first in line to the British throne now that his father, King Charles III, has become the head of the British Monarchy following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. While it’s not immediately clear what new responsibilities the freshly minted Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Cornwall will have, there’s no doubt eyes will be on the popular royal during this transition period—people want to know more about the future king.

Curious to know what’s behind Prince William’s reserved and somewhat serious manner? Find out some little-known facts and insider info about the beloved Prince.

He was the first future king to be born in a hospital

From nearly the moment of his birth, Prince William began setting the stage for the next generation of modern monarchs. His mother, Princess Diana, forever changed how royal women give birth. Prince William became the first future heir to the throne to be born in a hospital: the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

This kicked off a new tradition, with Prince Harry and all three children of Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales, born in the Lindo Wing. A photo op of the new babies and their parents on the steps of the hospital has also become a tradition. (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle eschewed this tradition with baby Archie.)

He’s a TV and movie buff

Prince William is a huge fan of movies, which makes sense, since he’s been president of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) since 2010. At the 2019 BAFTA Awards, he met actress Olivia Colman, who portrayed Prince William’s late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, in Seasons 3 and 4 of Netflix’s The Crown. The Prince and Princess of Wales also love to snuggle up with acclaimed television shows including Homeland and Game of Thrones, as he told BBC Radio 1. (To complete the mental picture of a night on the couch with Prince William, he also said at home he wears “comfy clothes” and likes to order curry takeaway.)

He has a scar on his forehead

Prince William may also be a Harry Potter fan, as he certainly shares a unique feature with the boy wizard: The Prince has what he calls a “Harry Potter scar” on his forehead. “I call it that because it glows sometimes and some people notice it—other times they don’t notice it at all,” he told BBC’s Newsround. “I got hit by a golf club when I was playing golf with a friend of mine. We were on a putting green and the next thing you know there was a seven-iron and it came out of nowhere and hit me in the head.” See if you can spot it over his left eye.

He’s a military man

Like his brother, father, grandfather and generations of royals before them, Prince William had a distinguished military career. The Prince, known as Flight Lieutenant Wales in the Royal Air Force, served more than seven years of full-time service and flew 156 search-and-rescue missions as a helicopter pilot. In a 2018 speech to the Royal Military Academy, which he graduated from, Prince William said, “The motto of the academy is ‘Serve to Lead’ … It means placing the interests of your soldiers ahead of the interests of yourself. It means earning their trust and looking out for them. It means being the one who must make tough decisions and lead in the face of adversity.”

He was an air ambulance pilot

After his military career, Prince William didn’t give up flying. Instead, he worked in emergency services as an air ambulance (or medevac, as Americans might call it) helicopter pilot, working alongside paramedics and doctors to save lives. “I want at the end of the day to feel like I have made a difference and a contribution,” the Prince told the BBC. But, he admitted it wasn’t always easy witnessing what he’s seen. “There are some very sad and dark moments,” he said. “You try not to take it away, but it can be quite difficult.”

Fatherhood changed him

As many parents can understand, becoming a dad to Prince George, followed by Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, made Prince William a bit softer. “I never used to get too wound up or worried about things, but now the smallest little things, you well up a little more, you get affected by the sort of things that happen around the world or whatever a lot more as a father,” he said in an interview. “You realize how precious life is and it puts it all in perspective, the idea of not being around to see your children grow up.”

He relives his mother’s death

The Prince admits these heightened emotions might have something to do with losing his own mother, Princess Diana, at age 15. “Anything to do with parent and child, and loss, it is very difficult, it has a big effect on me, it takes me straight back to my emotions back when my mother died,” Prince William told GQ, remembering a particularly difficult air ambulance mission. “I flew to a really bad case, a small boy and a car accident. I felt that one family’s pain and it took me right back to the experience I had.” Describing losing his mother as “a pain like no other pain,” he also told GQ, “I don’t think it ever fully heals.”

Royals At Kensington PalacePrincess Diana Archive/Getty Images

He wanted to save Princess Diana

Prince William also says he wishes he could have done more to save his mother, who had been hounded by the press and was being chased by paparazzi when she died. “I feel very sad and I still feel very angry that we were not old enough to be able to do more to protect her, not wise enough to step in and do something that could have made things better for her,” he told GQ. The difficult experiences Prince William has been through are part of the reason he’s a huge supporter of mental health initiatives—and even encouraged his own brother, Prince Harry, to get help dealing with his mother’s death.

He thinks the Brits need to loosen up

The British are known for their lack of emotional displays, but in a refreshingly honest conversation, Prince William revealed he thinks that needs to change in order for people to be more expressive about things they’re going through. “In Britain, we are nervous about our emotions, we are a bit embarrassed,” he says. “The British stiff upper lip thing, that’s great, and we need to have that occasionally … but otherwise, we’ve got to relax a little bit and be able to talk about emotions. We’re not robots!”

He’s a surfer

This is one of the surprising hobbies the British royal family does in their spare time. We may not think of Britain as a great place to surf, but Prince William has been known to don a wet suit and hop in the chilly water on his board. He was spotted taking a break from diaper duty after Prince George was born by surfing at a bachelor party (or as the English say, “stag do”) in Devon on the English coast. He’s also been photographed boogie-boarding with Prince Harry in Cornwall.

At a surfing charity event, also in Cornwall, Prince William reportedly said, “We should have brought our wet suits, I’m very jealous. Living by the beach is just perfect.” The very sporty Prince also loves soccer and polo. (Bonus fun fact: He’s left-handed, which initially made playing polo difficult, as only the right hand is allowed to hold the mallet.)

He and Princess Catherine almost didn’t make it down the aisle

Their royal nuptials on April 29, 2011, were watched by millions—yet, the wedding almost didn’t happen. The couple, who met when they were both attending St. Andrew’s University (and where Princess Kate gave Prince William a flirty nickname), actually broke up in 2007. “It was very much trying to find our own way, and we were growing up so it was just a bit of space, and it worked out for the better,” Prince William said in their engagement interview.

The Princess agreed: “At the time I wasn’t very happy about it, but it actually made me a stronger person,” she said. “You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realized. I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger, and I really valued that time for me as well although I didn’t think it at the time.” Even after they got back together, it was quite some time before the Prince proposed in 2010, earning Catherine the nickname “Waity Katie.”

His relationship with Harry has had ups and downs

In the past, the two princes weren’t shy about displaying their good-natured rivalry: After his exams for the Royal Air Force, Prince Harry joked in a joint interview, “It’s still hard work, but I’m better than William, so it’s fun.” Prince William countered when asked if he helped his brother study, “Oh yes, he needs an awful lot of help.” And when Prince William was expecting his second child with Kate, Harry said with a laugh, “I can’t wait to see my brother suffer more.” When Prince William was asked about baby Archie, William said, “I’m very glad and pleased to welcome my brother to the sleep deprivation society.”

Of course, things are a little more strained now after Harry and Meghan stepped back from royal duties in early 2020 and then proceeded to heavily criticize the royal family in a hugely publicized interview with Oprah. However, the royal brothers and their wives did come together to greet mourners at Windsor Castle following Queen Elizabeth’s death.

He’s been bullied for his hair loss

Prince William also seems to have a sense of humor about his hair loss. “He’s got way more [hair] than me, thank God,” he told reporters after the birth of Prince George. But that still shouldn’t give others an excuse to hair-shame him, as actor Rob Lowe did in a 2019 interview. “I mean the future king of your country let himself lose his own hair, so when I say British men set a very low bar [for vanity],” the well-coiffed Lowe said. “Honestly, one of the great traumatic experiences of my life was watching Prince William lose his hair. He’s going to be the king of England!” But as one Twitter commenter pointed out, “The crown will cover it anyway.” Well said!

He believes he has a “normal” family

Continuing the down-to-earth parenting approach of his mother, Prince William says the Windsors are “a normal family,” and he’ll strive to maintain that even as Prince George, second in line to the throne, learns about his destiny to be king. “There will be a time and a place to bring George up and understand how he fits in the world, but right now it’s just a case of keeping a secure, stable environment around him and showing him as much love as I can as a father,” he told the BBC.

As for William himself, “I don’t lie awake waiting or hoping [to be king],” he says, preferring to focus on his young family. “I want to bring my children up as good people. If I can’t give my time to my children … then I worry about their future.”

Sources:

  • YouGov: “Prince William, Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge”
  • Express: “Royal baby traditions: How Prince William was first ever heir to the throne to do THIS”
  • BAFTA: “President and Vice Presidents”
  • Harper’s Bazaar: “Prince William & Duchess Kate Met the Actress Playing the Queen in The Crown
  • BBC Radio 1 on YouTube: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge surprise Radio 1’s Adele Roberts”
  • News.bbc.co: “NR exclusive with Prince William”
  • Royal.uk: “The Prince of Wales”

Tina Donvito
Tina Donvito is a regular contributor to RD.com’s Culture and Travel sections. She also writes about health and wellness, parenting, and pregnancy. Previously editor-in-chief of Twist magazine, Donvito has also written for Parade Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Parents Magazine online, among others. Here work was selected by author Elizabeth Gilbert to be included in the anthology Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir. She earned a BA in English and History from Rutgers University.