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
Contributing Royal Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.