Which royal was a 'holy terror' with a hilariously telling nickname as a child?

One of the senior royals was a handful as a youngster – with his own mother branding him a “holy terror”

Princess Diana labelled one of her children a "holy terror"
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While you might not believe it when you see him today, Prince William was reportedly something of a hell-raiser as a child. So much so, he was dubbed a “holy terror” by his mother, the late Princess Diana. While he had his tantrums and outbursts, a surprising figure intervened and made sure he always made amends.

Prince William holds many an impressive title – Duke of Cambridge, Prince of Wales and heir-apparent to the throne in the royal line of succession

A dutiful family man to wife, Kate Middleton, and their three children - Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – he still finds time to set up “game-changing” initiatives like the Earthshot Prize which impress even the most famous of Hollywood stars.

Was it always pre-determined that he’d be such a stand-up gent? Not quite…

Prince William might have looked innocent, but he was a wild child

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Royal biographer Robert Lacey claims that William wasn’t always so dignified. In fact, he was apparently such an unruly child he earned a nickname that seems hard to imagine befitting of the man today.

The author wrote in his book, Battle of Brothers, that William was so prolific for his “playground fights” that he earned himself the dubious title of Basher Wills or Billy the Basher.

In the book, Robert writes, “The young prince had picked up his nicknames of ‘Basher Wills’ or ‘Billy the Basher’ when he joined Mrs Jane Mynors’ Nursery School in Notting Hill, not far from Kensington Palace, in September 1985.”

“Noisy, cheeky and defiant of discipline, Wills soon angered his classmates by pushing his way to the front of the dinner queue and getting involved in playground fights. The Prince's mother, Princess Diana, once even called her son 'a holy terror.’”

Battle of Brothers by Robert Lacey| £5.01 at Amazon 

Battle of Brothers by Robert Lacey| £5.01 at Amazon 

Written by royal expert Robert Lacey, this book gives readers an unparalleled insight into William and Harry’s early closeness and later rumoured estrangement. It asks what happens when two sons are raised for very different futures and explores each of the family's highs, lows and most difficult decisions. 

Princess Diana and Prince Charles were reportedly not too keen on being strict parents

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Robert Lacey’s account isn’t the only one testifying to such naughtiness from the future king.

Tina Brown’s book, The Palace Papers, suggested that William’s behaviour – and Charles and Diana’s reluctance to be too strict – needed some intervention.

She writes, “As a toddler, [William] had been a cause of concern to the Queen when he showed signs of being a brat. She complained to her husband that their grandson was 'out of control' and needed a stricter nanny.”

Prince William grew out of his wild ways, partly thanks to a strict Nanny, Ruth Wallace

(Image credit: Getty Images)

And that’s just what he got.

As Robert Lacey’s book describes, it was a nanny who eventually curtailed a lot of William’s cheeky behaviour.

Ruth Wallace was not afraid of the future king, and made him clean up his own mess after a tantrum.

Mr Lacey explains, “In the autumn of 1987, [Ruth] yanked the five-year-old home from a birthday party following a tantrum when he had not been allowed to blow out the candles on the cake and had expressed his displeasure by throwing sandwiches and ice cream around the room.”

Well, kids will be kids – and Prince Louis certainly might have a streak of William’s cheekiness – but we’re happy to see that the Prince of Wales has grown out of those ways.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.