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?

“Gary!”

…“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
Rachel Burchfield

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 weekend 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.