Prince William Used a Fake Name in College to Help Protect His Identity

He just wanted a normal college experience.

Prince William
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince William had a great college experience at the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland—hey, if nothing else, he met his future wife, the then Kate Middleton, who was actually his roommate (platonically, initially). And a normal college experience is exactly what William wanted, so much so that he came up with a fake moniker that friends used when speaking about him so as not to bring attention to the future king: Steve.

Yep. Steve. Just a regular old bloke.

The Mirror reports that William used this pseudonym so as to go under the radar, desperate to escape—at least for a while—the prying eyes of the press and just be a normal college kid. Though he did enroll under the name William Wales—his last name chosen because his father was (and still is) the Prince of Wales—when speaking about him in public, friends (including Kate, most likely) referred to him as Steve so those outside of their tight inner circle wouldn’t know they were actually talking about the heir to the throne. Even though the press agreed that William should have the freedom to go about his studies without relentless media attention, he was still Prince William, after all, and attracted attention wherever he went and whatever he did.

“It is believed his classmates used the nickname so he didn’t receive any unwanted attention,” the Mirror reports.

In college, William initially studied art history, but later switched to geography. He and Kate lived in the same dorm in college, and became “instant companions” after William got the courage to invite her to breakfast with he and his friends, a friend of the couple said. (Kate, by the way, had a nickname of her own at university: “Beautiful Kate,” a moniker given to her at the end of Freshers Week her first year at school, according to royal expert Katie Nicholl.)

William and Kate were still just friends when he paid £220 pounds for a front row ticket to see Kate walk in a charity fashion show and, not surprisingly, her sheer outfit caught his eye. By their sophomore year, William (or should we say Steve), Kate, and two other friends moved into a quaint, two-story home, where William and Kate ultimately fell in love.

They both graduated in 2005 from the university, with the likes of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall attending their graduation ceremony. 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.