Catriona Harvey-JennerTue, 9 February 2021, 10:00 am
The royal family might have a whole load of land, titles and jewels to their name, but in plenty of other ways they’re just like us. Namely, the fact that they, too, have had relationships that didn’t work out. Just because you’ve got a tiara on your head, doesn’t mean the first frog you kiss will be your… er, prince, you know.
Generally, the royal relationships we know about tend to go the distance – but what about the ones that never made it? We take a look back through the years to see the ‘what could’ve been’ – or rather, the ‘who could’ve been’ – when it comes to the royal family’s love lives…
1. Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy
Chelsy Davy was Prince Harry’s first public girlfriend, after he met Zimbabwe-born Chelsy while on his gap year in South Africa. The couple ended up dating on and off again for seven years, between 2004 and 2011, and Chelsy was even Prince Harry’s plus one at his brother Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton. Ultimately, though, the pair went their separate ways, and Chelsy – a trained lawyer – is now a jewellery maker who splits her time between London and Cape Town.
In an interview in 2016, Harry’s ex shed some light on the demise of the relationship. “It was so full-on: crazy and scary and uncomfortable. I found it very difficult when it was bad. I couldn’t cope,” Chelsy told the Times, referencing the hysteria that surrounds the royal family. She added, “I think we will always be good friends,” and that looks to be true, with Chelsy being invited to Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018.
2. Prince William and Jessica Craig
Prince William, believe it or not, did reportedly have a couple of relationships prior to meeting his wife, Kate Middleton, at university in St Andrews in 2001. One such girlfriend was Jessica Craig – also known as ‘Jecca’ – who the Prince is believed to have met when he was on his gap year in 2000, after he stayed at a Kenyan ranch owned by Jecca’s parents.
Obviously any relationship they had didn’t last, but Prince William and Jecca remained friends, with the royal even attending her wedding to conservationist Jonathan Baillie in Kenya back in 2016. William has also reportedly remained close with the whole Craig family following his time spent with them on the ranch, attending her brother’s wedding in 2008. It’s even reported that Prince William proposed to Kate on the Craig’s family game reserve in 2010, which is kind of nice and full circle, right?
3.Prince Edward and Ruthie Henshall
West End actress Ruthie Henshall spilled the beans on her former relationship with the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, when she went on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! last year. And it was no fling; the couple are believed to have dated solidly for the first two years, before things went on-and-off for a further three, prior to Prince Edward meeting his now-wife, Sophie.
After meeting Ruthie when the young royal was a production assistant at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatre, the couple became more than just colleagues when Edward invited her for dinner. During their time together, Ruthie went on holiday to the royals’ Scottish retreat, Balmoral, a number of times, where she revealed she drunkenly performed I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables for Princess Diana, the Queen and Princess Margaret. NBD. Speaking about Princess Diana on I’m A Celeb, Ruthie shared: “She was lovely. I don’t remember an awful lot because Charles gave me my first martini so I was fairly… I had two of them and I was like ‘Woah.'” Sounds like fun. Eventually the couple split due to the incompatibility of their careers (“I think I was very aware that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do for a living if I’d have stayed with him,” she said in 2008) but Ruthie remains wistful by the sounds of things. “[I] genuinely fell in love with him,” revealed the actress in the Welsh castle.
4. Princess Anne and Andrew Parker-Bowles
Here’s a relationship that was depicted in Netflix’s The Crown, and is corroborated by royal biographers – but has never been publicly confirmed by either party: Princess Anne and Andrew Parker-Bowles. As in, Anne’s sister-in-law Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall’s ex-husband. As portrayed in series 3 of The Crown, Camilla (whose maiden name is Shand) was in an on/off relationship with army major Andrew Parker-Bowles throughout her twenties. In one of their ‘off’ periods, Camilla met and fell in love with Prince Charles. During that same ‘off’ period, it’s believed that Parker-Bowles (who went on to marry Camilla in 1973) sparked up a relationship with Prince Charles’ sister, Princess Anne.
According to Prince Charles’s biographer Sally Bedell Smith, there is some truth to the tale. The royal expert confirmed the couple did have a brief relationship, but said Andrew Parker-Bowles was “an unlikely candidate for marriage to a member of the royal family” because he was a Catholic, while the royals are Church of England. So even if he and the Princess Royal had wanted to make it work, it was never really going to happen. “Even when their romance eventually wound down, they remained lifelong friends,” Bedell Smith added.
5. Princess Beatrice and Dave Clark
Princess Beatrice married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in July 2020, but prior to that, the royal had been in a 10-year relationship with ex-boyfriend Dave Clark. The couple were initially introduced in 2006 by Beatrice’s cousin Prince William, who reportedly knew Dave though university at St Andrews. But after years together, Beatrice and businessman Dave went their separate ways after it was reported there were no indications of a wedding on the cards. Following the split, Dave Clark began dating a New York-based advertising executive, Lynn Anderson, and they pair married in a ceremony in Puglia, Italy in July 2018.
6. Prince Charles and Lady Sarah Spencer
We all know that Prince Charles ended up marrying Lady Diana Spencer; it was perhaps one of the most famous marriages in British history. But, as hinted at in the most recent series of The Crown, it’s widely rumoured that Charles actually dated Diana Spencer’s elder sister, Lady Sarah Spencer (now Lady Sarah McCorquodale) beforehand.
Charles and Diana confirmed themselves in a 1981 interview following their engagement that they’d first come into contact with one another at a shooting party held at the Spencer family home in 1977, where Charles was in attendance as Sarah’s guest. “It was 1977, Charles came to stay as a friend of my sister Sarah’s… for a shoot. We sort of met in a plowed field,” Diana said shyly in the interview. The Princess of Wales was also recorded saying, “My sister was all over [Prince Charles] like a bad rash,” in a documentary. So we know there was a relationship of sorts there between Charles and Sarah, but as for whether it extended beyond friendship? The parties have remained tight-lipped.
7. Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas
Prince Harry was reportedly introduced to model and actress Cressida through his cousin Princess Eugenie, and the pair ended up dating for two years. The relationship was so serious, Cressida even made an appearance at a public event with Harry – a We Day UK charity concert at Wembley Arena. But shortly afterwards, the couple went their separate ways in an “amicable” split. It was reported at the time that Cressida may have been “spooked” after seeing how much royal attention Prince William and Kate Middleton got on their royal tour of New Zealand and Australia. The couple went on to remain friends, with Cressida Bonas being among the 3,000 guests invited to Prince Harry’s wedding.