We're counting down the days until Prince Harry and Meghan Markle become parents. Hasn't this felt like the longest pregnancy EVER?! We've loved following along on their journey, even if it is from (very) afar. It's been fun learning so much about Meghan, and learning more about Harry. Prince Harry has been in the public eye all his life, and many of us grew up with him. From his days as a red-headed tot on the palace green, to his rebellious teen years, and a stint in the military, we were there. We've watched Harry come into his own as a young royal, and it's been such a wild ride. When he met and fell in love with Meghan, we celebrated because it feels like we've known him all our lives.
But really, how much can you know about someone you don't even know? We often feel a kinship with celebs, even if we've never met them. There are some life experiences that transcend oceans and royal titles. But the royal family is famously tight-lipped about a lot of stuff. So even though we watched Harry grow up, some facts about him are still a mystery! As we prepare to watch Prince Harry become a dad, here are some interesting facts about our favorite royal dude (sorry, William!).
We know him as Harry, which definitely suits him. But Prince Harry's full name is actually Henry Charles Albert David of Wales. We can see why he goes by just Harry! Prince Henry of Wales just doesn't have the same ring to it, and he doesn't look like a Henry. But he has more than one nickname - it's rumored that his friends and Scotland Yard protection officers call him Spike Wells. We'd love to know the story behind that one! And in case you're curious, Prince Harry does have an actual last name. It's Mountbatten-Windsor. Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor of Wales. Phew!
Prince Harry and his mother Diana Spencer always seemed to have a special bond. Maybe it was just the youngest kiddo bond, or maybe it was because she knew he would probably never ascend the throne. Or, it could have something to do with the fact that Harry is 100% Spencer. In fact, Diana used to call him "My little Spencer" because of his red hair, which is a prominent Spencer family trait. The rumors that Harry was not Charles' son persisted for years, but one need only look at the men in Diana's family to know that red hair is kind of their thing.
Classic older brother/younger brother dynamic! Even though William seems much more reserved and mature now, that wasn't always the case. When the brothers were younger, it was Harry who was the shy, quiet one. In fact, William had a bit of a reputation for being the naughty one. He had his own nickname, "Billy the Basher", which implies that Harry had quiet the bumpy childhood as the younger Windsor boy. Harry spent much of their childhood being bossed around and overshadowed by William. But you know, that sounds par for the course when it comes to siblings!
When Harry was boy, he spent lots of time at his family's country estate, Highgrove, where he loved to spend time outdoors tending to the sheep and lambs. He would refill their water, give them hay, and play with all the little lambs. He also had a pet lop-eared rabbit that lived in a hutch in the corner of the stable yard. Harry and William care for the rabbit, cleaning out the hutch and making sure it had food and water. His love of animals probably comes in handy now, since Meghan is known to be a dog lover!
This is actually super sweet and kind of sad! When Prince Harry was a tot, he attended Jane Mynors nursery school in London. We assume it's a fancy nursery school for future royals, since obviously they don't go to daycare in a strip mall. He started at the age of 3, but had a bit of a rough transition. Harry didn't make friends very easily, and had a hard time with the other kids. In fact, he was picked on and bullied quite a bit! Hard to believe, but toddlers are actually pretty terrifying, as we know. Can you imagine growing up and realizing that you were the toddler terror who picked on the possible future King of England?
Obviously, the royal family operates in a very different level than the one we operate on. Because for most of us, boarding school is just a threat we scream at our kids when they're acting like animals. But for Prince Harry and brother William, boarding school was just part of the process. And they started young! Harry was sent to Ludgrove boarding school in September of 1992, when he was just 7 years old. That seems to young to be away from your family! This is one of those instances where we don't think we'd be down with being a royal. But it's been done for generations - William attended the same boarding school before Harry.
If you remember the tabloid coverage of Charles and Diana's marriage, then you probably remember how awful it was. It was a huge scandal in the royal family and around the world, and a lot of publications seemed to forget (or ignore) that there were two young boys stuck in the middle of the mess. Harry left for Ludgrove in 1992, just a few days after a transcript of a very intimate conversation between Diana and boyfriend James Gilbey was published by British tabloids. Being away at boarding school likely shielded Harry from the coverage of what was surely a difficult time growing up.
On August 31, 1997, Diana was involved in a car accident after being chased through a tunnel by paparazzi. She died of her injuries, leaving behind William, who was 15, and Harry, who was just 12. Harry was enrolled at Ludgrove when she died, and ended up staying an extra year following her death. This was partly to shield him from the coverage of Diana's death, and partly so he would enter Eton College at 14 instead of 13. Harry has said that his mother's death affected him greatly, and he suffered from nightmares for years after she died.
The winter after Diana died, Charles took both William and Harry to South Africa and Botswana. Harry says he fell in love with Africa on that trip, and his spirits were lifted after he met Nelson Mandela. He also met the Spice Girls on that trip, which for a 12 year old boy was probably a highlight and a dream. Since that trip, Harry has returned to Africa many times. During his gap year after Eton, he traveled to Lesotho. In 2006, he started his own charity with Prince Seeiso, called Sentebale. The charity remains in place today, and serves vulnerable children in Lesotho.
In his third year at Eton, Prince Harry signed up for the Combined Cadet Force. He reached the highest rank, Cadet Officer, by his last year at Eton. After his gap year, he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, to prepare him for his military career. He held a full-time position in the military for a decade, during which time he did two operational tours of duty in Afghanistan. In fact, he was the first member of the royal family to do a combat tour since his uncle Andrew flew helicopters during the Falklands War in 1982. He left active military service in 2015.
While attending Eton, Harry was accused of cheating on the coursework for his A levels (advanced-level qualifications that usually lead to university, training, or employment). A former teacher of Harry's claims that she was hired to write part of his coursework, and Prince Harry faced a tribunal while the charges were investigated. The investigation found the charges to be baseless, and Harry was cleared of all wrongdoing in the cheating scandal. Such an interesting little tidbit, especially given the college admissions scandal that's currently rocking higher education in the US.
Harry really packed quite a bit into his gap year after Eton! In addition to spending time in Lesotho, Prince Harry took coaching qualifications in the English Rugby Football Union, and actually helped coach the sport at five different schools. Harry has always been the more athletic of the brothers, and until he was sidelined by an injury, played rugby regularly. We suppose he takes the whole "Those who can't do, teach" mentality to heart! He's now a patron of the same program, and is dedicated to introducing the sport into more schools around the country.
Harry didn't want to draw a lot of attention to himself, and wanted to be taken seriously during his time in the military. After the press figured out where he would be deployed in Iraq, he was pulled out of the area and was angry about it. But the military figured out a way to get him into Afghanistan, and he served in the trenches during Operation Herrick in 2007. He was also chosen to fly the Apache helicopter during his training courses, and earned the copilot gunner trophy for his skills and abilities as a pilot.
Before Prince William married Kate Middleton, Harry took part in the Walking with the Wounded Project, where he walked to the North Pole. He had to early during that walk, on account of his brother getting married and all. But before he left he brought a huge ice cream cake to share with the other soldiers. He completed the walk to the South Pole in 2013. He also spent time visiting with wounded soldiers. During one visit, he left a note for a man who was in a coma that said, "For God's sake, mate. Came to see you and what were you doing? You were kipping."
His mother Diana was known for her work with children, and it seems as though Harry is carrying on her legacy. At a fundraising even for his charity Sentebale he said, "The most important thing for me in life is kids. I don't know whether I got that from my mum and my father. I just have this massive kid inside me. I've always had that connection with kids, and I always will hopefully." Many of his royal patronages involve working with vulnerable and underprivileged kids around the world. He definitely sounds like he's devoted to improving the lives of children, and will obviously be an amazing dad.
After attending the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs in 2013, Prince Harry knew he wanted to do something similar in the UK. So he came up with the idea for the Invictus Games, an international adaptive multi-sport event. The event launched in 2014, and has more than 400 military personnel and veteran competitors. They compete in adaptive sports like volleyball, cycling, wheelchair rugby, archery, and swimming. It's a cause near and dear to Harry's heart, having served in the military. Each year, he participates in the games. This year, Meghan made an appearance with him.
As you can imagine, it's not easy to know who you can trust when you're as famous as Harry and William. Add to that paparazzi and reporters watching your every move, and bad stuff is bound to come out. In 2014 it was revealed that reporters for News of the World, a British tabloid, had tapped Harry and William's phones. Before that was discovered, the brothers were worried that their friends had been leaking information to the press. Prince Harry was actually relieved to find out the leaks were the result of a phone tap, and not confidants who'd broken his trust.
Harry likely dated his fair share of women before marrying Meghan Markle. But two in particular stick out and are remembered as being serious contenders for the official title of Duchess. Harry met Chelsy Davy during his gap year, on his trip to Africa. The daughter of a Zimbabwean land owner, Chelsy and Harry enjoyed many of the same outdoor interests. They dated for about six years, and remain friends today (she was even at the wedding!). He was introduced to Cressida Bonas in 2012 by his cousin Eugenie, and they started dating in 2013. But they broke up a year later because Cressida allegedly wasn't ready for the whole royal thing.
Listen, Vegas claims us all as victims at least once in our lives, right? Even royals aren't immune to that. Especially if you happen to be a hard-partying royal like Harry used to be. In 2012, Harry was in Las Vegas partying with friends. Things took a scandalous turn when they started playing strip billiards, and another person at the party took some photos and (of course) sold them to tabloids. For a member of the royal family, having your bare ass plastered all over the newspaper stands probably isn't ideal. But what are you going to do, right? It happens!
We love Prince Harry, but you can't be everyone's cup of tea, right? But how awkward that he seems to have some detractors right in his own family. Harry and Kate Middleton seem to get along swimmingly. But her family is another story. Kate's parents apparently aren't big fans of Harry's, and don't care for his down-to-earth nature and sense of humor. They allegedly find him to be "impolite". We happen to think those are two of Harry's best qualities! People really need to lighten up and let go of some of those dumb royal expectations. We can't imagine what they think of the new Duchess of Sussex, LOL.