Inside Prince Harry's Relationship With Cressida Bonas

Once you start dating a member of the British royal family, prepare for your life to be forever changed — you will always be associated with them, whether you dated them a year or a decade ago. Take Major James Hewitt, for example — he had an affair with Princess Diana between 1986 and 1991, and people still talk about him and the conspiracy theories that he's actually Prince Harry's real father. Royal watchers still remember Prince William's first-ever girlfriend, Rose Farquhar, and the woman he never even actually dated — Isabella Calthorpe. Calthorpe reportedly turned William down because she believed being associated with him would negatively impact her acting career — she'd clearly been paying attention.

Then there's Prince Harry, who, like his brother, had all his romantic relationships placed under a magnifying glass. People still associate a myriad of women with the prince, most notably Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas. It might be safe to say that, once you date a royal, you date them forever, even if you break up. The media doesn't forget, and neither do royal fans. Bonas has been pretty open about how this obsession with the royals' exes has affected her life. "The hurdles for me are when I'm trying to do my work and people want to talk about [Harry]. I work very hard and love what I do but it is still something I have to contend with," she told the Evening Standard. Here is a look at Harry and Bonas' memorable relationship.

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank took them on a double date

Even though they were both part of London's elite, Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas first met thanks to Princess Eugenie. Eugenie went to Leeds University and Bonas happened to be one of her classmates. Eugenie, ever the matchmaker, decided to introduce Harry to Bonas. That might've been as far as things went if it hadn't been for Eugenie's then-boyfriend Jack Brooksbank, who invited Harry and Bonas to go on a double date with him and Eugenie. 

Harry and Bonas accompanied the couple to the premiere of "Dark Knight Rises," after which they spent a fun evening at a club. Naturally, people were curious about the new blonde beauty on Harry's arm, and media reports about Bonas and Harry possibly being in a relationship started to surface within hours. "Inside the club they were very, very friendly together and getting very cozy with each other," an unnamed source told People.

Knowing that the paparazzi were waiting for them outside, Harry and Bonas left the club separately, but that did not keep tongues from wagging — they were officially on every royal watcher's radar, and that hasn't really changed since.

Cressida and Harry's first date was incredibly awkward

One would think that a first date with a prince must be nothing but magical, but this ain't a Disney film, and when Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas went on their first date, it was awkward in the most cringe-worthy way, so much so that Harry rang up Princess Eugenie to ask for advice the following day.

According to royal biographer Angela Levin, Harry fell head-over-heels for Bonas the moment he met her, so perhaps that was why the prince's game was a little off on their first date — the poor lad was nervous! Harry speaks candidly about the awkward first date in his memoir, "Spare," revealing that his and Cressida's first kiss was the sort you usually see in comedies. Yup, it was that embarrassing. The prince himself called it "painfully awkward."

"I leaned in to give her a kiss, but my aim was off," Harry wrote. "She turned, I tried again on the return trip and we managed something like a graze," he continued. Two failed kisses on one date. Oof! It's no wonder Harry called Eugenie the next day, worrying about how to remedy things. "Discouraged, I told her the date had gone well but the ending had left something to be desired. She didn't disagree. She'd already spoken to Cressida. She sighed. Awkward," Harry disclosed. The good news was that Bonas wanted to give it another go, Eugenie told him. We bet the prince heaved one giant sigh of relief.

She was reportedly embarrassed by some of Harry's antics in Vegas in 2012

Shortly after Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas were romantically linked by the media, Harry caused quite a stir when he was photographed partying with friends in Las Vegas, doing all the Vegas things, like getting naked with plenty of women around. The prince was even photographed getting cozy with another blonde who had also discarded her clothes. It was one of the palace's more memorable PR disasters, and apparently, Bonas was none too pleased with Harry's wild antics.

Rumors were swirling that Harry and Bonas were an item and that she was about to kick the prince to the curb after his Vegas shenanigans. "He's ruined his chances now," a source claiming to be one of Bonas' friends told the Daily Mail, adding, "Harry has blown it. Cressida saw a future with him, but he clearly isn't as serious about her as he claimed to be." Another friend said that there was no chance of Bonas continuing her relationship with the prince after the incident. "Cressida is pretty peeved," they disclosed.

In his memoir, "Spare," Harry revealed in so many words that he and Bonas had been in an official relationship at the time and that he apologized to her after the pictures hit the American tabloids. "After hearing my careful and abashed explanation, she came to the same conclusion. I'd been a dummy, not a debaucher. I apologized for embarrassing her," the prince wrote.

They had a long-distance relationship for a while

Shortly after Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas started dating, he was deployed to Afghanistan. His tour lasted four months, and during this time, he reportedly tried his best to make a long-distance relationship with Bonas work. "Harry has been ringing Cressida regularly," one of Bonas' friends told the Daily Mail. "He's been pleading with her to wait for him until he comes back," they added.

It appears that Bonas has a thing for the Harrys of the world — she dated Harry Wentworth-Stanley before she started a relationship with Prince Harry, and sources said that Wentworth-Stanley was desperate to win Bonas back after Harry got deployed to Afghanistan. "Cressida is still very fond of her ex-boyfriend and, since Harry's been on the scene, he's been after her again," one source divulged, adding, "Cressida is torn. She likes Harry but is not the sort to be bothered about his title." (Spoiler alert: Bonas ended up marrying the other Harry.)

When Harry finally came back home, Bonas noticed that the war had changed him, and it unsettled her. In his memoir, "Spare," Harry revealed that there was "some stiffness" and "some distance" between them when they reunited, adding that even Princess Eugenie pointed out to him that he was, in some ways, different than he had been before he left. Naturally, this put strain on Bonas and Harry's relationship, and it was eventually one of the things that led to its breakdown.

Prince Harry opened up about his mother to Cressida

If there's one thing Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas enjoyed doing, it was skiing. While on a ski trip in Switzerland, the two bonded even more, and Bonas finally plucked up the courage to ask Harry about his mother, Princess Diana. While it was definitely a touchy subject, the prince revealed in "Spare" that Bonas asked him with "just the right blend of curiosity and compassion." He doesn't reveal what exactly she asked or how he responded but wrote that her reaction "was just right too. Surprised, concerned, with no judgement."

Bonas managed to get Harry to talk openly about his late mother, something the prince insinuated he hadn't really done with previous girlfriends. He described the moment he opened up to Bonas in detail in his book, trying to make sense of why he finally felt ready to broach the subject. "Maybe it was the softly falling snow outside the windows, or the culmination of seventeen years of up-pressed grief. Maybe it was maturity," he wrote. "Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, I answered her, straight-out, and then started to cry," he added. This moment cemented his bond with Bonas, and Harry admits in his memoir that that was the first time he cried since his mother's funeral. "It was cathartic, it accelerated our bond, and added an element rare in past relationships: immense gratitude," he revealed.

There were rumors that they would get married

While becoming a princess when you grow up is a fantasy dream for most, Cressida Bonas nearly lived out that dream while dating Prince Harry — or so the British tabloids thought. Rumors were swirling that Bonas was about to give up her entire career to become Prince Harry's future wife. Some said she had quit dancing and opted for a PA job to prepare for the changes royal life would bring. "Cressie is going to marry Harry. He never stops talking about marriage and children, and she has now got used to the idea. The wedding is likely to take place next year," a source told The Telegraph. Of course, we now know those rumors were nothing but balderdash.

At the time, Bonas' half-brother, Jacobi Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, told the Evening Standard that he was worried about how royal life would affect his sibling, especially because she enjoyed having privacy. Given the fanfare that surrounded Princess Catherine and Prince William's relationship and royal wedding, Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe wasn't sure he wanted his sister caught up in all the hoopla. "[The media attention] worries me. But you've got to go with life and see how things progress," he told the Evening Standard. He also admitted that he found the whole press circus "ludicrous," adding that he wasn't sure Bonas could cope with the attention. "She's not a tough cookie at all. She's a very sensitive, sweet girl," he said.

The two of them reportedly had funny nicknames for each other

We love it when couples have sweet nicknames for each other. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are one of those couples who like to use nicknames — Meghan often calls Harry "H" or "Haz," while he likes to call her "M" or "Meg." When Harry was younger, however, he had sillier nicknames for his girlfriends, and one that probably takes the cake is the nickname he had for Cressida Bonas.

Harry and Bonas finally made their relationship public in 2014 after two years of keeping it under wraps. They casually made the world aware of the fact that they were indeed dating when they both attended a We Charity event at Wembley Arena, where Harry delivered a speech. Naturally, everyone wanted to know everything there was to know about the couple, including what their nicknames for each other were, and back in 2013, The Cut did fans the courtesy of speaking to some of Bonas' friends, and they claimed that she called Harry "Ken," and he, fittingly, called her "Barbie." Now we're imagining Harry and Bonas in the "Barbie" movie... and honestly, we're not mad about the image that pops up in our minds. How about a sequel (or perhaps a prequel), Greta Gerwig?

Of course, whether the couple actually called each other by these nicknames remains unconfirmed, but we think it's about time a red-headed Ken steps into a lead role. Just saying.

She had a hard time handling the media attention

It's no secret that the press hounds every single person who becomes romantically involved with a member of the royal family, and Cressida Bonas experienced what it's like to have their camera lenses trained on her at all times while she was dating Prince Harry — and she didn't like it one bit.

"A rising actress, Cressida did not enjoy the critical remarks that she could hear people making behind her back when she walked down the street in London," royal author Robert Lacey claims in his book "Battle of Brothers: William and Harry — The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult" (via InStyle). Speaking to The Telegraph, Cressida was open about the fears she had while dating Harry, one of which was being labeled by the press and having to live with that label for the rest of her life. The last thing she wanted was to be forced into a box and referred to as an It girl.

Bonas also saw firsthand what it looks like when a senior member of the royal family gets married and how their children are automatically expected to be in the spotlight from a young age. "[She was] completely spooked after watching the TV coverage of William and Kate touring New Zealand with baby George in tow," Lacey wrote in his book, adding, "That was not how she would want to enjoy her eight-month-old son, she regretfully explained to Harry."

Dating Harry helped Cressida learn to handle the press

Cressida Bonas learned a lesson or two on how to deal with the media while she dated Prince Harry, and it's proven useful in her career.

It was Bonas' mother who first gave her some solid advice when it came to dealing with rough patches in her life. She told her daughter, "Be true to yourself and do whatever makes you happy. If you're not happy, then stop. There's no point in carrying on." Bonas has kept this advice in the back of her mind during her time with Prince Harry and long after the two called it quits. Speaking to The Times, Bonas revealed that, while dealing with the media was challenging, she learned how to cope with it eventually. "It's really important to remember that all it is, is noise, noise that can be very loud at times," she said, adding that she reminded herself that she's strong enough to handle it. "I'm a lion. I'm not tough, but I am strong. I'm definitely not a wallflower," she said.

Despite her resolve, it can still be tough to deal with nagging paparazzi. Bonas has found a way to cope with that too, however. "[I]f I ever feel like, 'Oh, my life!' or get upset by silly things like a photographer, or if someone has written something nasty that's upset me, I just think, 'Worse things happen at sea,'" she said.

Cressida reportedly encouraged Harry to go to therapy

When Prince Harry made his nude debut in Las Vegas, he was going through a pretty dark period. While the prince appeared to be a party animal on the outside, he was battling plenty of demons on the inside. Harry later revealed what was really going on during that time of his life in his Apple+ TV series, "The Me You Can't See." "I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling," he confessed in one of the episodes.

It was during this time that Harry dated Cressida Bonas, and if Tina Brown's book, "The Palace Papers" is to be believed, Bonas was one of the first people to encourage Harry to speak to a therapist. Brown claims that Bonas saw the signs of Harry's mental distress and that it worried her. "His outbursts were ever more frequent and childlike," Brown writes in her book (via Town & Country). "He took up boxing because, as he later said, he was always 'on the verge of punching somebody.' It is not widely known that it was [Bonas] who first persuaded Harry to see a therapist," Brown continues. A family friend who provided inside intel on the royal family for Brown's tome disclosed that Bonas managed to get through to Harry and made him realize that he had a problem that needed to be addressed.

Prince Harry and Cressida broke up in 2014

Knowing everything we know now, Cressida Bonas and Prince Harry's breakup in 2014 breaks our hearts even more. Clearly, they were good to each other, and it's a pity things didn't work out.

It all started on the ski trip during which Bonas asked Harry about his mother. In his memoir, "Spare," Harry recounts how, despite the fact that their bond was stronger than ever, he realized they were better off as friends. "There was massive affection, deep and abiding loyalty — but not love everlasting," he wrote, adding, "She was always clear about not wanting to take on the stresses of being a royal, and I was never sure I wanted to ask her to do so, and this unalterable fact, though it had been lurking in the background for some time, became undeniable on those Kazakh slopes. Suddenly it was clear. This can't work." Cue hearts breaking across the globe.

Harry recalled feeling utterly miserable after the trip and calling one of his friends for advice. His pal told him not to let the relationship drag on any longer and to be upfront with Bonas, so that's what Harry did. He paid Bonas a visit and they had a talk, and to the prince's surprise, Bonas didn't seem caught off guard by his feelings — she had been milling over the same thoughts in her head. That didn't mean that the conversation didn't end in tears, however.

There were rumors that they might reconcile

While Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas broke up in 2014, rumors were swirling in late 2015 that the two were getting back together. It all started when Bonas broke up with her boyfriend and then, ironically, was spotted having fun with Harry and some of his friends at a pub in Chelsea on the same day the public got wind of the news. Royal watchers and the media alike were excited about this turn of events and seemed sure that the couple was about to give their relationship another go. Friends of Harry's quickly put a damper on their excitement, however. "Harry and Cress have always kept in touch and are fond of each other. They aren't together at the moment and although you can never say never, I would be very surprised if it happened [again]," a friend of the prince told the Daily Mail.

Barely a day later, Us Weekly reported that Harry and his ex, Chelsy Davy, were giving their romance another go. It's hard to know whether this was a coincidence or not. The outlet quoted various friends who debunked the rumors that Harry and Bonas were getting back together, with one telling Us Weekly, "They're close friends and have remained so since they broke up. But there's nothing romantic going on between them." Another disclosed, "She doesn't want Harry back. She doesn't look at him like that anymore."

Prince Harry continued to support Cressida as a friend

Despite breaking up, Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas remained very close friends. Not only did Bonas take time out of her busy schedule to celebrate the prince's birthday in 2015, but Harry also made sure to show his ex that he was supportive earlier that year when he attended one of the plays in which she portrayed the lead role.

Seeing Prince Harry dressed in his best attending the opening night of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," in which Bonas portrayed the role of Cecily Cardew, set tongues wagging that the couple was totally getting back together. In reality, Harry was simply thrilled to be able to support his former girlfriend and see her making a success of her career.

Sources quickly debunked rumors of a romantic reunion, disappointing fans who were hoping the couple was about to give it another go. "They're not back together or getting back together," an insider told Us Weekly. "They both still talk and support each other's work," they added. While the couple's breakup still stings to this day, there is some consolation in knowing that they remained good friends.

She had a harder time as Prince Harry's ex than she did being his girlfriend

Cressida Bonas isn't someone who beats around the bush, and she's spoken candidly about what it's like to forever and always be known as Prince Harry's ex. Spoiler alert: It doesn't necessarily make you the good kind of famous.

While making an appearance on BBC Radio's "Woman's Hour," Bonas was pretty open about what life looks like after you date — and break up — with a member of the British royal family. In short: You never live it down. People always think of you as the royal's ex before they remember anything else about you, and for Bonas, this has been hard, especially because she was trying to build her acting career after breaking up with Harry. She's not the only one — no one who watches the popular legal drama "Suits" these days sees Meghan Markle as just another actress in the show, they see her as Prince Harry's wife. In fact, many have attributed the show's renewed popularity to Meghan's association with the prince.

"I think it's that thing of being pigeonholed. Especially in this country, I feel people are very quick to put you in a box or put you in a corner and think, 'Oh, well, you're that so you must be that,'" Bonas told Woman's Hour, adding, "It's incredibly frustrating, especially in the industry that I'm in. But you know, it is the way it is."

Cressida continued to respect Harry's privacy long after their relationship ended

While Cressida Bonas could probably have made a fortune selling some royal secrets after she and Prince Harry broke up, she was truly the real deal and never spoke ill of the royal or his family. In fact, she barely ever gave the media anything to work with, no matter how much they prodded.

While Bonas finds it taxing to constantly be asked about a boyfriend with whom she broke up almost a decade ago, she never gives the media as much as a morsel of information to get them off her back. During an interview with the Evening Standard, Bonas was asked how she felt about all the negative media Meghan Markle had to deal with. This question came days after Harry and Meghan announced they would be stepping down as full-time working royals. Bonas refused to give her opinion. "I wouldn't take a position on that because it would be a headline. Also out of respect," she said, adding that her own complicated relationship with the press while she was dating Harry is something she put behind her. "When it comes up it feels strange because I'm in a different place," she said.

By now, it's very likely that the press knows that Bonas is the last person they should ask for comment when a story entails the royal family.

Cressida attended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding

Those in the know are aware that the royals often invite their exes to their weddings, and it was a happy day when royal watchers found out that Prince Harry had invited Cressida Bonas to his royal nuptials.

While Bonas stays mum about Prince Harry whenever the media brings him up, she did mention Harry's royal wedding in an essay she wrote for The Spectator. Bonas was very open about the fact that she was nervous about the dress code, especially because it stated that all guests were to wear hats. Now, we all know that the royals are known for their elaborate headgear (we don't know how they pull off the look most of the time — it must be something that comes naturally when you're a member of the family). When you're a commoner, however, choosing a hat for a historic occasion like a royal wedding isn't exactly an easy task — there will be plenty of media present, and you don't want to be the one the fashion police singles out.

"Why do I find hats so tricky? Tricky to wear, tricky to look at, and extremely tricky for the poor soul sitting in the pew behind," Bonas wrote in her post, adding that she usually opts to forgo hats altogether. This time, however, it wasn't possible. "I opted for a minimal feathered number — and can only hope I got it right," she added. We think she nailed it.