Babykins, Big Willie and why pet names should stay secret
20:14 GMT, 14 March 2012
Is Ed Miliband more or less attractive as a prospective Prime Minister now that we know his wife, Justine, calls him ‘Sweetie’
The Labour leader certainly seemed to be boasting this week when he revealed to a group of schoolchildren that Justine has a pet name for him.
All I can say is, TMI (too much information)! It was the same when we found out that the Blairs’ lifestyle guru Carole Caplin called Tony ‘Toblerone’. Or that White House intern Monica Lewinsky called Bill Clinton ‘Handsome’.
Too much information: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's pet names for one another are rumoured to be 'Babykins' and 'Big Willie'
When a public figure’s intimate nickname is revealed, you are left feeling that your privacy has been invaded — not theirs.
I could also have done without Victoria Beckham telling us she calls David ‘Goldenballs’. Maybe I should be more robust, but the image makes me feel decidedly squeamish.
It was similarly distressing to hear the rumour — hopefully untrue — that Prince William and Kate refer to each other as ‘Big Willie’ and ‘Babykins’.
I can’t deal with it, I’m sorry. You can revere the future monarch, or you can know that he is called Big Willie. Not both.
Celebrity pet names can be useful in one respect: they reveal the dynamics of a relationship.
Wag tags: Victoria Beckham calls husband David, left, 'goldenballs' while Frank Lampard is 'HOB' to Christine Bleakley
TV presenter Christine Bleakley is said to call her footballer fianc Frank Lampard ‘HOB’ — short for Husband Or Boyfriend. As a subversion of the WAG moniker, this is clearly designed to show that he is as much an addendum to her as she is to him.
Madonna once revelled in being called ‘The Missus’ by her then husband Guy Ritchie. It was probably because she found it fun to joke that she was a normal housewife, when she knew she was anything but.
Dr Martin Skinner, a lecturer in social psychology at Warwick University, says pet names are about intimacy and privacy.
‘When couples give each other pet names it often reflects the history of the relationship.
Ed Miliband, however, may have gone a bit too far in revealing his ‘Sweetie’ moniker.
‘We don’t want to think of him being intimate with his wife,’ ventures Dr Skinner. ‘And I bet her real nickname for him isn’t Sweetie. It’s probably Sweetie-Pie.’
Oh dear me, no.