For two years, Prince Harry had an on-and-off relationship with Burberry muse and model Cressida Bonas. The pair were first introduced to each other by Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie, but ultimately called it quits after Cressida reportedly struggled with the idea of life as a royal wife. However, according to a recent biography, the then-25-year-old also struggled with the Prince’s defiant temperament, with a couple of blow-outs leading to the romance’s eventual demise. Tina Brown, author of The Palace Papers, recounted the two incidents — one on Valentine’s Day and the other around the festive season.
In her book, she wrote: “A family friend told me she knew the relationship wouldn’t last when there was a blow-up on Valentine’s Day. En route to the restaurant, they were driving down Kensington High Street when Harry got word that there was a photographer lying in wait. He slammed on the brakes, did a spin turn in the middle of the street and gunned it back to Nott Cott for a Valentine’s night of pizza.”
The author added: “At Christmas, more unnecessary drama.”
The pair were staying in the country with Cressida’s half-sister and other members of the family. They decided to go to a small local pub in Kidlington, outside Oxford, for lunch and managed to secure a table at the back.
A person who saw the couple told Ms Brown: “Suddenly as they were leaving, this quite elderly, sweet-looking gentleman came out and said: ‘Oh, sir, so sorry, I know it’s Christmastime, but could I just take a photograph to give to my wife who isn’t well?’
“And so Cressida opened her mouth and said: ‘Oh, of course.’ And Harry said: ‘Get out of my way’ and went bright red in the face and stormed off in a huff.”
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At the time of their split, a friend said: “It’s very sad that they have decided to split but this is a completely amicable separation and they are remaining the very best of friends.”
According to The Palace Papers, Cressida was the first to encourage Harry to speak to a professional about his mental health.
“His outbursts were ever more frequent and childlike,” Ms Brown writes. “He took up boxing because, as he later said, he was always ‘on the verge of punching somebody’. Cressida began to have serious worries about his mental health. It is not widely known that it was she who first persuaded Harry to see a therapist.”
One anonymous family friend told the author that Cressida “got him to accept he had problems, and see a psychoanalyst”.
A mutual friend of Cressida and Harry’s also told Ms Brown that when the two broke up, the Prince wrote her a letter thanking her for pushing him towards therapy.
The friend recalled: “He wrote her a sweet letter saying I admire you, I wish you well and above all thank you for helping me to address my demons and seek help.”
The pair stayed friends, with Cressida even in attendance at Harry’s 2018 wedding to Meghan Markle. “Last weekend I attended the royal wedding,” she wrote in a diary entry for the Spectator about the day. “The invitation clearly stated that guests must wear hats. Yikes. I opted for a minimal feathered number — and can only hope I got it right.”
Two years later, Cressida married another Harry — Harry Wentworth-Stanley — but her royal ex was not in attendance, presumably due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“I had a lockdown wedding,” Cressida wrote in the Spectator. “A 30-person, socially-distanced, sanitised church service was organised in under two weeks. Restrictions meant no hymns, no wind instruments and no speaking too loudly.
“A disappointment for a musical family. Not what we’d envisaged, but a more intimate and special day than we could ever have imagined. Imperfect yet perfect — a day we will never forget.”
She and her husband welcomed a baby boy last month, recently revealing her two-year struggle to conceive before turning to IVF.
The Palace Papers was written by Tina Brown and published by Century in 2022. It is available here.