Royal Couples Who Weren't Meant To Be

We all know about the royal couples that worked out — Will and Kate, Meghan and Harry, Elizabeth and Philip, Charles and Camilla. But what about the couples that didn't make it down the aisle? Or, the couples who called it quits after tying the knot? Not every relationship ends well — and that goes for royal couples, too. 

Some of us probably remember when the British tabloids were convinced that Prince Harry would end up with Chelsy Davy. Or when Prince William was rumored to be thinking of marrying Jessica Craig. And then there are the exes of some of the older royals. As fans of "The Crown" will know, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and Princess Margaret have all had their fair share of love affairs over the years.

Curious to learn more about the royal couples who have broken up over the years? Here are a few of the most famous examples.

Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy

Chelsy Davy is often referred to as Prince Harry's first love. The prince met the Zimbabwean in Cape Town during his gap year in 2004. According to Yahoo!, the pair quickly fell in love and began a long-distance relationship. Their relationship went public later that year and Davy soon began attending official royal events, but the pair broke up in 2009. As Katie Nicholl wrote in her biography, "Harry: Life, Loss, and Love," "The truth is Harry had a roving eye when Chelsy wasn't around, and his flirting recently landed him in hot water." Apparently, his military deployment also put pressure on the couple.

In 2016, Davy opened up about the relationship in an interview with The Times, saying that one of the hardest parts was dealing with the paparazzi. "It was so full-on: crazy and scary and uncomfortable," she recalled. "I found it very difficult when it was bad. I couldn't cope. I was young, I was trying to be a normal kid and it was horrible."

It seems that Davy remained friendly with Harry. In fact, she even attended his wedding to Meghan Markle (via Tatler).

Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas

After breaking up with Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry's next big relationship came in the form of Cressida Bonas, an actress and model. The pair was introduced by Princess Eugenie and dated from 2012 to 2014, per the Mirror. Throughout their relationship, the two were spotted at parties, premieres, ski resorts, theaters, and concerts. Bonas even accompanied Harry to a royal charity event in 2014. As the Mirror reported at the time, the pair had a friendly breakup on April 29, 2014.

In 2020, Bonas told The Daily Telegraph about the aftermath of the relationship. "I think I have grown confident and fortunately I have learned not to sweat the small stuff too much," she said. "And I just think it has definitely given me a stronger sense of purpose and a stronger sense of what I want or don't want."

It seems that the two are still close, as, like Chelsy Davy, Bonas received an invitation to her ex's wedding in 2018.

Prince Harry and Ellie Goulding

Did Prince Harry date the famous singer Ellie Goulding? The answer is ... maybe. In 2016, shortly after his split from Cressida Bonas, the prince was spotted at a polo event in Berkshire, where he reportedly spent a lot of time with Goulding. Some sources told The Sun that they were very physically affectionate, and one source claimed they had kissed. "He has told friends how much he likes Ellie and she is clearly taken by him," the source said. 

Apparently, the pair met at Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding, where Goulding performed. "Harry was really going for it after the polo — he was drinking and dancing," said a source. "They were part of a wider group including Tom Hardy, but Harry and Ellie only had eyes for each other all night — they spent a lot of time sitting together under blankets."

Neither Harry nor Goulding ever confirmed the relationship. In one interview, Goulding only said, "Please don't make me go red. I'm bright red. Why did I have a feeling that was going to come up? Naughty people!" (via Express).

Prince William and Jessica Craig

It may be hard for some of us to even remember a time before Will and Kate. However, before Prince William met Kate Middleton at university, he had another pretty serious relationship. The prince dated Jessica "Jecca" Craig while on his gap year in Kenya. Craig's family reportedly owns a conservation ranch, which William visited after graduating from Eton. According to some sources, William and Craig even had a "pretend engagement" while they were dating. 

We don't know too much about William and Craig's short romance, but according to the Daily Mail, Craig's father helped William become a life-long conservationist.

It appears that William has remained friends with Craig and her family. In fact, he was spotted spending time with all of them in 2010 just months before his engagement to Kate (via The Telegraph). William also attended Craig's wedding in 2016 — without Kate and his young son George (via Vanity Fair).

Prince William and Rose Farquhar

Before Kate Middleton and before Jessica Craig, Prince William did have one more serious romance. William and Rose Farquhar, daughter of Captain Ian Farquhar, were childhood friends who reportedly dated after his time at Eton in 2000 (via the Daily Beast). According to the Daily Mail, she was his first real girlfriend. After the pair broke up, they reportedly stayed friends and frequently saw each other at weddings and other events.

Farquhar went on to pursue acting, training at New York's Lee Strasberg Institute and appearing in several televised singing competitions, including the 2006 reality show "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" and "The Voice." She also worked as a luxury brand promoter. According to her LinkedIn, Farquhar now works in special projects and business development for Belvoir Castle. She also has a SoundCloud account where she has posted some of her original songs.

Prince Charles and Sarah Spencer

Before he dated and married Lady Diana Spencer, Prince Charles actually dated her older sister, Sarah Spencer. The pair met during a royal party in the '70s. As Sarah Bradford wrote in "Diana: Finally, the Complete Story," "Prince Charles enjoyed Sarah's sparkiness and irreverent wit and they made each other laugh" (via Oprah Daily). The couple spent plenty of time together, with Sarah even accompanying Charles to royal events and going on a skiing holiday with him. 

The relationship came crashing to an end after one year. Most sources believe that the affair ended when Sarah made some inappropriate comments to the press. "Charles makes me laugh a lot," Sarah said in one infamous interview. "I really enjoy being with him." But, she added, "There is no chance of my marrying him. I'm not in love with him." She even said she wouldn't marry the royal "if he were the dustman or the King of England" (via Time).

When Charles later married her younger sister, Sarah remained lighthearted, telling The Guardian, "I introduced them. I'm Cupid."

Prince Charles and Jane Wellesley

Before Princess Diana and Lady Sarah Spencer, there was Lady Jane Wellesley. The pair dated between 1973 and 1974. The Washington Post claimed that she was Charles' first real love. According to the Tatler, many people thought she and Prince Charles might end up marrying. In fact, after consistent media attention, she reportedly once said, "Do you honestly believe I want to be queen?" By 1978, things between the couple seemed to be officially over. As Time reported at the time, they still remained friendly.

Wellesley was a journalist and the daughter of the Duke of Wellington. She has never married, but according to the Daily Mail, she did have an eight-year romance with Melvyn Bragg, a broadcaster and politician, followed by an affair with writer Anthony Holden, a commentator and biographer who, incidentally, wrote about Charles' marriage to Princess Diana. Wellesley worked at the BBC and launched a TV production company, and also wrote two books about her family's history.

Princess Anne and Andrew Parker-Bowles

As viewers of "The Crown" may remember, Princess Anne had a romance with Andrew Parker-Bowles, who went on to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles, now King Charles' queen consort

According to a biography of Charles by Sally Bedell Smith, Parker-Bowles and Anne did indeed have an affair. As she told Vanity Fair, the pair dated in the early '70s after meeting at the Royal Ascot and bonding over horses. However, the romance probably wasn't as inflammatory as the TV show suggested and didn't really overlap with Andrew's later relationship with Camilla.

So, why didn't things work out? As a Catholic, it seems Parker-Bowles was never seen as a viable husband. Their romance fizzled, but they remained in the same circles and stayed friends. "Even when their romance eventually wound down, they remained lifelong friends," Smith wrote (via Town & Country). They've even been spotted chatting at numerous events over the years.

Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend

Another affair chronicled in "The Crown" is that of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend. The show portrayed theirs as a passionate, all-encompassing affair that led to a heated argument between Margaret and her sister, Elizabeth, then a young queen, who refused to allow her sister to marry a divorcé. But what really happened between Margaret and Townsend?

According to the Evening Standard, the pair met when Margaret was a teenager and reconnected when she was 22. Townsend soon fell in love. "She was a girl of unusual, intense beauty, confined as it was in her short, slender figure and centered about large purple-blue eyes, generous, sensitive lips, and a complexion as smooth as a peach," he reportedly once said, adding, "what ultimately made Princess Margaret so attractive and lovable was that behind the dazzling facade, the apparent self-assurance, you could find, if you looked for it, a rare softness and sincerity."

It also seems that the queen stopped her sister from marrying Townsend until she was 25. After that, Margaret sought the approval of the British Parliament, which declared that Margaret would need to give up her title and status if she married him. At that point, the couple finally decided to call it quits.

Prince Edward and Ruthie Henshall

Prince Edward is the late queen's youngest son. In 1999, he married his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex. But before he tied the knot, he did have one particularly infamous relationship with none other than the actress Ruthie Henshall, known for her numerous stage roles and the reality show "I'm a Celebrity." Henshall revealed a few details about her relationship during an episode of the reality show. "Lovely bloke. And I genuinely fell in love with him," she said.

Apparently, the pair met while Edward was working at a theater where she was starring in "A Star Is Born." "And he said to me, 'Would you like to come to mine and watch the film of 'A Star Is Born' with me and you can have some dinner?'" (via The Sun).

The pair went on to date for two years, but eventually called it quits when Henshall realized she could never continue her on-stage career while married to a prince.

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones

After her ill-fated romance with Peter Townsend, Princess Margaret eventually settled down with photographer Antony Armstong-Jones. The pair met at a dinner party and fell in love after Armstong-Jones was commissioned to take her portrait. According to History Extra, Armstong-Jones was engaged to an actress in the early days of their romance, to which Margaret reportedly replied, "But you're in love with me!" 

In 1959, the pair became engaged. "I received a letter from Peter in the morning and that evening I decided to marry Tony," Margaret later recalled. "I didn't really want to marry at all. Why did I? Because he asked me! Really, though, he was such a nice person in those days. In a way he introduced me to a new world" (via Brides).

After tying the knot in 1960, their marriage began to crumble as a result of rumored infidelities on both sides. By 1978, they were officially divorced.

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson are another royal couple who did make it down the aisle, but couldn't manage to make their marriage work. The pair married in 1986 and had two children. However, they were forced to spend months apart, which soon led to problems. In 1992, Ferguson was spotted by paparazzi with her financial advisor John Bryan — some infamous images showed him kissing her toes (via the Daily Mail). Tensions also arose from Ferguson wanting to have a career of her own. "I wanted to work; it's not right for a princess of the royal house to be commercial, so Andrew and I decided to make the divorce official so I could go off and get a job," she told Harper's Bazaar. By 1996, the pair's divorce was finalized (via Chicago Tribune).

In spite of their divorce (and the allegations of sexual assault against Andrew), the pair appear to be on better terms than ever. As Ferguson told The Telegraph in 2021, "We always say we are the most contented divorced couple in the world. We're divorced to each other, not from each other."

Princess Anne and Mark Phillips

Prince Andrew isn't the only child of the late Queen Elizabeth II to have been divorced. And no, we're not talking about Prince Charles, either — Princess Anne also got divorced from her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips.

The pair first met in 1968 at a horse-riding event in Mexico, where they quickly bonded over their love of the animals (via People). By 1973, the pair was engaged. It seems that at the time, Anne took a practical rather than a romantic approach to the institution of marriage. When asked by one reporter if their marriage would be able to endure the demands and strain of her high-visibility role, she replied, "Can? It's got to, hasn't it?" (via People). They married later that year.

Things started to turn sour after the birth of their second child, Zara, in 1981. According to the Express, they spent more and more time apart and even slept in separate hotel rooms while traveling. As the Tatler reported, Phillips even had an affair and fathered a child while still married to Anne, while Anne allegedly had a few affairs of her own. In 1992, the couple was finally granted a divorce.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

Prince Charles and Princess Diana are, without a doubt, the most famous ill-fated royal couple in recent history. Most of us already know the story: Diana met the prince when she was a teenager. After a very brief courtship, Charles proposed and Diana accepted. But even before they tied the knot, the cracks had begun to show. In their now infamous engagement interview, the couple was asked if they were in love. "Whatever in love means," came Charles' vague reply.

Their relationship struggled under numerous pressures: Their age gap soon began to show, Diana developed a severe eating disorder, and Charles was rumored to be jealous of her fame. Eventually, both reportedly had affairs. By 1992, the pair had officially separated, per History.

After their divorce, the couple managed to find common ground. In the biography "The Diana Chronicles," Tina Brown wrote about how things were "definitely calming down." "They talked about their philanthropies," she wrote. "And she had accepted Camilla" (via Elle).