Prince Harry has been in the public eye for his whole life, a status that has become even more intense in recent years due to the media’s frequent focus on him and his wife, Meghan Markle. (Though he stepped down from his duties as a senior member of the royal family, he kept his titles of prince and duke.) In the midst of the incessant press speculation and gossip, many less well-known things about the Duke of Sussex have become lost in the shuffle. Here are nine surprising facts about King Charles III and Princess Diana’s younger son.
1. Prince Harry does not have a surname in the conventional sense.
At birth, Harry was given four personal names—he was born Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, although it was also stated from the beginning that he would be most often known as Harry. He, like other members of the royal family, was not given a surname. Though no last name appears on his birth certificate, he is also entitled to use Mountbatten-Windsor—it’s what Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip designated as the last name their descendants could use when required.
2. Prince Harry’s given names reference lesser-known family members as well as royals.
All four of Prince Harry’s given names allude to family members past and present. Henry was the name of several of his royal ancestors, Kings Henry I to VIII. Charles refers not only to his father, but also to his uncle Charles Spencer, the brother of Diana, and is a nod to the importance of the name in the Spencer family in general. Albert was the forename of his paternal great-grandfather (who took the regnal name of George VI) as well as the name of Queen Victoria’s husband. And David refers to David Bowes-Lyon, his great-great uncle, who was also the brother of the Queen Mother.
3. Prince Harry became known as Captain Wales during his time in the army.
While formally known by his various names, Prince Harry opted for a more low-key moniker when he was in the army. During his training, he was known as Officer Cadet Wales; Wales became the surname attached to his military rank as his career moved forward. He eventually became a captain and was therefore known as Captain Wales by the conclusion of his service.
4. When Prince Harry served in Afghanistan, it was initially kept secret to avoid security risks.
After Prince Harry completed his training, there was discussion about whether or not he should be sent into conflicts overseas. Though the army had previously deemed it too dangerous to send him to Iraq, they stationed him in Afghanistan in December 2007, where he worked as a forward air controller. His presence there was meant to be kept secret to avoid making him a target; it was leaked to the press the following February, after which he had to be withdrawn to avoid the aforementioned security risks.
5. Prince Harry once went on a charity trek to the South Pole.
Prince Harry, along with a team of volunteers, went on a trip to the South Pole to raise funds for charity in 2013. He traveled there with someone who would later play a notable role in future media representations of the royals: Dominic West, who portrayed Prince Charles nine years later on the fifth season of The Crown.
After reaching their destination, Prince Harry and his fellow team members wanted to celebrate their accomplishment. One teammate, Duncan Slater, decided to temporarily offer his prosthetic to the group so they could mark the occasion. Prince Harry and his companions ended up drinking champagne from the prosthetic leg at the conclusion of their trip.
6. Prince Harry had an acting role playing a gardener in a short film.
Meghan Markle isn’t the only actor in the family. Prince Harry has also dabbled in acting, as evidenced by a short film shown at the opening ceremony of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In the film, set in 1823 (when the sport began), Harry appears briefly at the 2:15 mark, working as a gardener while observing a rugby player in full flight and commenting “that’ll never take off.”
7. Prince Harry was once asked midway through a 17-mile fundraising walk when he was planning to settle down.
In 2015—two years after his journey to the South Pole—Prince Harry embarked upon another charity event. He trekked 17 miles to raise funds for Walking with the Wounded, an organization that supports military veterans and their families. Around mile 10, a member of the media asked him when he was planning to settle down, which he politely deflected; asVanity Fair later put it: “Can you really blame Harry for expressing agitation (granted, very royal, polite, measured agitation) at being asked this question for the millionth time, about 10 miles into a 17-mile hike?” (The prince did “settle down” and married Meghan Markle in 2018.)
8. Prince Harry had a lightsaber duel with Prince William on the set of Star Wars.
In 2016—back when the brothers were on better terms—Prince Harry and Prince William visited the set of the Star Wars sequels, which were partly shot at Pinewood Studios in England, where they were photographed having a lightsaber duel. The brothers even filmed a cameo dressed as stormtroopers, but those scenes were ultimately cut from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
9. Prince Harry and Queen Elizabeth II performed with the Obamas in a comedy sketch for the 2016 Invictus Games.
In 2016, Prince Harry shared a light-hearted moment with his grandmother in a comedy sketch in collaboration with Barack and Michelle Obama to mark the opening of the Invictus Games, a sporting event for wounded active duty military members and veterans. The skit concluded with Harry doing a “mic drop” action to the camera.