At the News of the World phone hacking trial in London’s Old Bailey yesterday, Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, read out some of the hacked voicemails. The ones that sparked the interest of the masses yesterday sound pretty dull.
“Hi baby, it’s me”. Right then, I suppose. But when “me” is the future king of England, and another tidbit revealed by the hacking is that Wills also calls Kate “Babykins”, well… it feels more than a little intrusive.
Of all the revelations to emerge from the various phone hacking enquiries, surely this is all at once the most mundane, and the most surprising.
At least, it seems, the prince has learned something from his father’s experience of phone hacking, and said nothing particularly incriminating, or relating to women’s sanitary products. Babykins, is, after all, pretty harmless.
If you’re the kind of girl who’s been dreaming of her prince to come all her life (or since a Disney film planted the notion in your head), surely you thought they’d have better terms of endearment than ‘Babykins’? ‘Your royal wonderfulness’, for example. I suppose it could have been worse; he could have called her ‘princess’.
Now, Wills has never seemed like the eloquent type, so perhaps it’s an achievement merely for him to acknowledged his feelings in this way. He obviously does have a sensitive side.
A cynic might suggest William was perfectly aware someone was listening to their calls, but that might be going too far.
‘Babykins’ is a little bit sick-making, yes, but you’d have to wonder if it’s better or worse than the pet names us plebs have for our other halves?
In the interests of fair comment, I researched this matter extensively (ok, I asked people on Twitter). In the interests of protecting my own ‘babykins’ – who would pack up and leave if I ever called him anything so puerile – I won’t reveal what he calls me. But it seems Irish men are less shy than you’d have expected when it comes to their soppy sides.
In my very quick straw poll of Twitter, there was nobody who claimed not to have a pet name for their girlfriend or wife. Nobody at all. A couple of them declined to comment – they’d be killed for revealing it, as would I.
But of all the people who did respond, it was the women who sold their men up the swanny.
‘Lemguin’ – a mixture of ‘lemon’ and ‘penguin’, was definitely the most unusual one, with complicated origins that mean it’s impossible for anyone else to decipher. ‘Badger’, a reflection on her mascara-blackened eyes and grey-streaked hair, might not be very flattering, but it struck me as adorable – and wins the prize for being most observant. One more daring man – who married a colleague of mine this year – began calling her ‘Property’ as soon as they tied the knot. Presumably in an ironic way.
One woman told me she’d immediately break up with anyone who called her ‘babykins’. ‘Snuggle bunny’ was also top of her list for cringe-inducing endearments, but presumably most people that use that are doing so with tongue firmly in cheek.
One of the sweetest was ‘Rockie’, which the subject believes means she is her boyfriend’s rock. Although after telling me that, she did theorise that it might mean she’s hard. Which is a very clever, if subversive (not to mention reckless) way of doing things.
I think my favourite, though, was GLW. It’s handy, because – if, in the eventuality that their phone was ever hacked – nobody knows what it stands for, unless they’re told. And if they are told? Greatest living woman. All together now; ahhhh.
I suppose it shows you don’t have to be royal to be somebody’s queen. Now, pass the sick bucket.
Published in yesterday’s Evening Herald. Thanks to everyone who shared their secrets!