Yes, Queen Elizabeth Was Once Fondly Known as “Gary”

You can thank a young Prince William for that.

Queen Elizabeth Prince William
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You may know her as Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen. Her Majesty. Ma’am. Her Royal Highness. Even Lilibet. But Gary?

Yep—at one point, the Queen’s nickname was Gary. And it’s all thanks to a little boy named Prince William.

It’s Mother’s Day in the U.S., so why not learn why, pray tell, the matriarch of the British Royal Family is called this weird nickname within the family? You see, once upon a time, a little boy named William was casually playing at Buckingham Palace, as one does. He tripped and called out for his grandmother to help him—but he didn’t say “Granny.” Instead?


…“Much to the confusion of everyone present,” the Mirror reports.

Everyone started looking around for the nearest Gary. “A guest who went to help asked who Gary was,” reports The Daily Mail, per the Mirror, assuming it was a member of the royal household.

“I’m Gary,” deadpanned the Queen as she rushed to comfort her grandson. “He hasn’t learned to say Granny yet.”

“Gary” has since, thankfully, evolved into “Granny” from her grandchildren—both William and Harry screamed “Go Granny!” in unison at the 2012 Olympics when the Queen fantastically starred along Daniel Craig as James Bond to open the London games—and “Gan Gan” from her great-grandchildren like Prince George, according to the Duchess of Cambridge speaking in 2016. (Fun fact: “Gan Gan” is what Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry all called their respective great-grandmothers, too.)

And, not to be outdone, William has had a few nicknames of his own over the years. William’s wife Kate calls him, hilariously, “Baldy” and “Big Willy.” In 1983, his mother, Princess Diana, called him “Wombat.”

“It began when I was two,” William said. “I’ve been rightfully told, because I can’t remember back that far, but when we went to Australia with our parents, and the wombat, you know, that’s the local animal, so I just basically got called that—not because I look like a wombat. Or maybe I do.”

Those are pretty good nicknames—but few top Gary in royal folklore.

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.