Updated January 27, 2020
Prince Harry, aka the Duke of Sussex, and his wife, Meghan, aka the Duchess of Sussex, have certainly had their share of media attention over the past few years.
Too much attention, in fact. The unrelenting — and, at times, racist— British tabloid coverage of the couple is one of the reasons the royal duo have chosen to leave behind their official royal duties in favor of more freedom — personally and geographically speaking. Since the world first learned that Harry and Meghan were an item in October 2016 until the news broke in January 2020 that they’d be stepping back from the royal family, much of the press attention has been focused on Meghan.
As Harry, Meghan and their son, Archie, set off in a new direction for their young family, it bears taking a look at all the life events that made Harry the husband, father and man he is today. Here’s what you may not know about the British prince.
His Name Is Actually A Nickname
He’s known as Prince Harry, but that’s a nickname. The Duke of Sussex’s real name is Prince Henry Charles Albert David. In medieval England, Harry was considered the spoken form of Henry, and most English kings called Henry were referred to as Harry. When Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced their second son’s name, they said he would be known as Harry to his family and friends, but the entire world quickly followed suit.
He Will No Longer Be ‘HRH’
Since Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave their official royal positions, it was determined that they’d no longer be referred to as His/Her Royal Highness. The abbreviation HRH is used as part of the title of some members of the royal family. Meghan received the title Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex upon marriage to Harry in May 2018, while Harry’s full title was His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.
He Wasn’t Always The ‘Bad Boy’
Prince Harry had a reputation for being a bit of a bad boy during his late teens and early 20s, famously causing a global backlash by wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party, but when Harry and his brother, Prince William, were younger, it was the older brother who was reportedly the boisterous one, bossing young Harry about. This earned Prince William the nickname Billy the Basher.
He’s An Animal Lover
Prince Harry is often pictured paying just as much attention to his furry fans as to human members of the public. His affinity with the world’s four-legged creatures may have started when he was a little boy and had a lop-eared rabbit that lived in a hutch in the stable yard at Highgrove House, where he and Prince William spent much of their childhoods. Over the years, Prince Harry has also been pictured getting affectionate with horses, dogs and even a goat.
He Has Regrets About Diana
Prince Harry was only 12 when his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, died following a car accident in Paris. Harry spoke to Diana on the day she died, and he later revealed that he would always regret how short the phone call was.
“Looking back on it now, it’s incredibly hard, I’ll have to sort of deal with that for the rest of my life. Not knowing that was the last time I was going to speak to my mum, how differently that conversation would have panned out if I’d had even the slightest inkling her life was going to be taken that night,” he said in a British TV documentary about Diana.
His School Days Brought Scandal
Like his father and older brother, Prince Harry was educated at independent schools, including Ludgrove School in Berkshire and Eton College, where he achieved two A-Levels: a grade B in Art and a grade D in Geography. His time at Eton wasn’t without scandal; one of his former teachers, Sarah Forsyth, accused Harry of cheating and said she ghost-wrote his course work. A tribunal investigating her case against Eton for unfair dismissal found no evidence of cheating, but it did accept that Harry had received help with his A-level “expressive project” and awarded Forsyth 45,000 pounds, or about $58,000, in damages.
He Spent A Day In Rehab
In January 2002, Prince Harry confessed to heavy drinking and marijuana use, prompting his father to send him to rehab. Harry spent a day at Featherstone Lodge, a rehabilitation center in Peckham, south London, where he was chaperoned by a “buddy,” a former heroin addict and family friend, Mark Dyer.
“The Prince of Wales thought it would be educational and shocking for [Harry] to attend,” said a senior royal official at the time.
He Was (Is?) A Fan Of Halle Berry
When photos taken in 2003 of Prince Harry in his dorm room at Eton went viral in 2018, they showed an image of actress Halle Berry pinned to a wall tapestry amongst all the typical college paraphernalia like books, mugs, body spray, highlighter pens and a stereo system.
The best part of this story was the reaction from Berry herself. She tweeted, “Ok #PrinceHarry, I see you! #HalleBerryPosta.” She also tagged Missy Elliot in the tweet in a reference to Elliot’s 2002 hit “Work It,” in which she raps about a “Halle Berry poster.”
He Faked It On Social Media
While Prince Harry was at college, he reportedly used a false name to go incognito on social media. According to The Telegraph, Harry used the name Spike Wells — a reference to his nickname at that time — to keep in touch with friends via Facebook. However, in 2012 he was advised to delete his Facebook page amid privacy concerns following the publication of naked pictures of him partying in Las Vegas.
But He Actually Hates Twitter
Working members of the royal family, such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aren’t allowed to have their own social media accounts. But it seems that Prince Harry isn’t a big fan of social media in any case — especially Twitter. The Daily Mail reported that he was overheard saying, “I really quite hate Twitter,” to teenage digital media ambassadors for the 2014 Invictus Games.
He Took A Gap Year
When he was 18, Prince Harry spent a gap year in Australia and the remote African mountain kingdom of Lesotho. During three months on a ranch in Southern Queensland, he learned how to handle cattle and repair fences. In Lesotho, he visited Mants’ase Children’s Home near Mohale’s Hoek, an orphanage for children with AIDS, helped build a clinic and road bridge and produced the documentary film “The Forgotten Kingdom.”
He’s A Qualified Rugby Coach
As well as traveling during his gap year, Prince Harry took a course to qualify as a rugby coach. Although he gave up playing rugby after school (he was a scrum half) due to injuries, he’s never lost his love for the sport, telling young coaches at an open training session for the England national team in 2018 that he is like a “Labrador with a tennis ball” whenever he sees a rugby ball. He has been Patron of England’s Rugby Football Union since 2017.
He Was Stopped From Serving In Iraq
After Prince Harry joined the British military in 2006 following completion of the necessary training at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he had his heart set on serving in Iraq. However, the head of the army decided not to send him to Iraq due to the excessive risks it would bring to Harry and his squadron. General Sir Richard Dannatt told reporters that his decision was partly based on widespread media reporting of Harry’s proposed deployment.
But He Did Serve In Afghanistan
In 2007-2008, Prince Harry served in the military for 77 days in Helmand, Afghanistan, but was pulled out after an Australian publication violated a blackout order to reveal his presence. He returned to Afghanistan for a 20-week deployment in 2012-2013 with the Army Air Corps and left the army in June 2015. He has three medals to his name: an Operation Service Medal for Afghanistan, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
He Lost His Friend In Tragic Circumstances
In 2002, Prince Harry’s close friend Henry van Straubenzee was killed at the age of 18 when the car he was traveling in hit a tree in front of Ludgrove School. Prince Harry, who attended the school with van Straubenzee, went to the funeral with Prince William and other school friends. Since 2009, both Prince Harry and Prince William have been Patrons of The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, which aims to fight poverty in Uganda through education.
He’s A FIFA Pro
He may not have as much time to play video games now that he’s a husband and father, but when Prince Harry gets any downtime he likes to play FIFA football simulation video games. He told reporters that he “thrashed” his fellow troops at the game during his time serving in Afghanistan, adding, “It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox. So with my thumbs I like to think that I’m probably quite useful.”
He Walked To The South Pole
In 2011, Prince Harry joined a group of wounded servicemen for four days of their Arctic trek to the North Pole to raise money for the Walking With The Wounded charity. He had to withdraw to attend his brother Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton, but two years later, Harry took part in the Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge, and this time he completed the entire thing, becoming the first member of the royal family to reach the South Pole.
He Has His Mother’s Wedding Dress
According to Diana’s will, her sons were to receive her iconic wedding dress when Prince Harry turned 30 in September 2014. Until then, the gown was the property of Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer. The ivory taffeta gown, which was designed by British designers David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and toured with the exhibition “Diana: A Celebration” for a short time, featured 10,000 pearls. Elizabeth Emmanuel said the royal bride had to be sewn into the dress because she had lost so much weight in the buildup to the wedding.
He’s Good Friends With Singer Ellie Goulding
Prince Harry and Ellie Goulding have been photographed together on several occasions over the years, but rumors of a romantic relationship were never confirmed. In 2016, pop star Goulding told interviewers from The Project TV that they were “naughty, naughty people” for asking her questions about her royal friend. Goulding reportedly received an invitation to Harry’s May 2018 wedding to Meghan Markle, but she didn’t attend. However, she was a guest at the wedding of another royal, Princess Eugenie, later that year.
He Wanted Kate Middleton’s Engagement Ring
After Diana’s death, both of her young sons were allowed to choose an item from her personal belongings to keep. William chose first and went for the Cartier watch Diana received as a 21st birthday present from her father, then Harry chose her sapphire and diamond engagement ring. However, William clearly had his eye on the ring too; the boys agreed whoever got engaged first would get it. Subsequently, Harry had to give the ring to his older brother to propose to Kate Middleton in 2010.
He Has A Musical Side
Prince Harry made his recording debut in 2012 when he played the tambourine on “Sing,” the official song for his grandmother the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. “Sing” was co-written by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and singer Gary Barlow and featured 210 musicians from across the Commonwealth, including the African Children’s Choir, Aboriginal guitarist Gurrumul, the best-selling classical artist of the 21st century Hayley Westenra and soprano Laura Wright.
He’s A ‘Funcle’
When Prince William and Kate Middleton welcomed their first child, son Prince George, in 2013, Harry became an uncle for the first time. But he calls himself a “funcle” — which perhaps gives an idea of the kind of dad he’ll be. In 2017, Harry told the Daily Mail that he didn’t mind moving down two places in line to the throne following the arrival of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, saying, “The reason I am now fifth is because of my nephew and niece, and I could never wish them away. They are the most amazing things ever.”
He Inspired A Reality TV Show
In 2014 a reality TV show called “I Wanna Marry Harry” aired, featuring 12 women who believed that they were competing for Prince Harry’s affections. But the Harry in question was played by actor and Harry lookalike Matthew Hicks, and the show was canceled after only four episodes. It’s not known what Prince Harry himself thought of the show, or whether his future wife Meghan Markle happened to watch it.
He’s A Hugger
Unlike most royals, Prince Harry doesn’t always stand on ceremony. He told journalist Angela Levin that he’s a great hugger.
“Everyone needs a hug every now and then, and it so happens I’ve been told over and over again I’m very good at giving hugs,” he revealed. Harry added that this aspect of his character would have made Princess Diana “smile with pride.”
He Almost Had A Nervous Breakdown
It’s no surprise that Prince Harry was deeply affected by the death of his mother, and he didn’t know how to deal with his grief. He said in an interview with The Telegraph that he almost had a “complete breakdown” after bottling up his emotions for several years, but sought counseling to get better.
“Losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he said.
He Vacations With Elton John
As a close friend of the royals and Princess Diana in particular, Elton John was invited to Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle. In early 2018, Elton revealed that was on vacation with Prince Harry when the royal first told him about Markle.
“I spent some time with him in Sicily last summer and I could tell that he was totally in love, and he didn’t really discuss much personally but he said, ‘I’m in love’ and I thought, ‘Good for you,'” he said in a TV interview.
John also opened up his home in Nice, France, to the couple in the summer of 2019. Some British media outlets criticized the pair for taking John’s private jet to the destination, which drew a powerful rebuttal from the rock star.
“After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home,” John wrote. “To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight.” He went on to applaud their charitable works and note that their flight was “carbon neutral,” due to a donation made to a carbon-offsetting organization.
He Keeps The Lights Off
Meghan Markle became aware of Prince Harry’s eco-friendly side when she discovered he hates to waste electricity. In a film honoring Prince Charles on his 70th birthday, Harry said he had inherited his father’s passion for conserving electricity.
“My wife certainly goes, ‘Well, why turn the lights off? It’s dark,'” he said in the documentary “Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70.” “I go, ‘We only need one light, we don’t need, like, six,’ and all of a sudden, it becomes a habit.”
He’s A Big Fan Of ‘Hamilton’
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle went to a performance of “Hamilton” in London’s West End, Harry joined the cast onstage to sing the opening lines of “You’ll Be Back.” As soon as Harry started singing the audience broke into applause, prompting him to stop singing and say, “That’s definitely not going to happen.”
Markle told Rachel John, who plays Angelica Schuyler in the West End production, that her husband loved the show.
He Loves ‘The Lion King’
Another of Prince Harry’s favorite production is “The Lion King,” a detail he revealed when he and Meghan Markle attended the annual WellChild awards, where Harry has been a Patron since 2007. When a young award winner named Chloe asked the royal couple to name their favorite Disney films, Markle chose “The Little Mermaid” and Harry said he loves the story of the young lion Simba. Incidentally, “The Lion King” also happens to be a favorite of his nephew, Prince George.
He Has A Strong Connection With Africa
Prince Harry took his first trip to Africa not long after Princess Diana died, and since then he’s returned to the country several times.
“This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world. I wish I could spend more time in Africa. I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here,” he told Town & Country. The British media reported before Archie’s birth that Harry and Meghan may consider a move to Africa “for two to three years” as part of a bespoke role, combining Commonwealth and charity work with promotion of the U.K.
While the family of three make an official visit South Africa in September 2019 (they even had the chance to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu during their trip), we now know that Harry, Meghan and Archie plan to split their time between the U.K. and North America.
He’s Unlikely To Become King—And He’s OK With That
Prince Harry is sixth in line to the throne (behind his father Prince Charles, his brother Prince William and his nephews and niece Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis), which means there’s a good chance he’ll never become king. However, he’s absolutely fine with that, as the couple’s royal break makes quite clear. But this isn’t a new position for Harry. As he told Newsweek in 2017, “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”