- Friends say Prince Harry is wary of marriage due to parents’ divorce
- He is said to be becoming ‘the last man standing’ in his group of friends
- It comes after close friend Tom ‘Skippy’ Inskip got engaged
- The Prince has previously dated Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas
- See the latest Prince Harry updates at www.dailymail.co.uk/princeharry
Catherine Ostler for the Daily Mail
19:32 EST, 29 January 2016
10:40 EST, 30 January 2016
She’s a young, blonde socialite who loves dancing and has a good sense of humour. And she’s single. So far, so Prince Harry’s type.
No wonder tongues started wagging when it emerged the Prince was a surprise guest at Suki Waterhouse’s party last month.
Could the 24-year-old actress and model finally be Harry’s ‘one’?
Friends of Prince Harry, pictured left and, right with his parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana, worry their divorce may have put him off getting married
While the gossip quietened as quickly as it started, with no one any the wiser as to whether Suki caught the eye of the world’s most eligible bachelor, insiders insist we shouldn’t be ordering hats for the next Royal Wedding any time soon.
A rudderless commitment phobe, prone to periods of gloom which go against his cheeky chappie image, Harry has been left wary of marriage by his parents’ acrimonious divorce.
And, of course, he is still scarred by the death of his mother, Diana, when he was 12.
Indeed, some suggest he may sub-consciously sabotage relationships to avoid greater pain — and greater loss — later on.
For while he says he’s ready to settle down (apparently, he told an unlikely confidante, TV presenter Denise van Outen, at a friend’s birthday party this month that he was ‘not dating, and for the first time ever’, wanted ‘to find a wife’), those who know him insist he’s anything but.
Charles and Diana divorced in 1996 after 15 years of marriage and two children, William, left, and Harry, right
As one put it: ‘Like most commitment phobes, what he says, or even thinks he wants, and how he behaves are quite different things.’
It can’t help that the 31-year-old Prince is rapidly becoming the ‘last man standing’ in his party boy network.
His partners in crime are dropping like flies, their marriages closely followed by children.
Now even Harry’s wingman, Tom ‘Skippy’ Inskip, two years his junior, has got engaged to his girlfriend of four years, the Hon Lara Hughes-Young.
Skippy, of course, was at Harry’s side during that wild spree in Las Vegas when the Prince was pictured stark naked.
Add in film-maker and key royal host Arthur Landon, going out with Alessandra Balazs (daughter of Pippa’s friend, restaurant and hotel owner Andre); court jester Guy Pelly, these days a ‘smug married’ with his Holiday Inn heiress wife Elizabeth; and old friend Jake Warren, who has just had twins with his wife Zoe — no wonder Harry is feeling isolated and under pressure.
At the same time, the world desperately hopes he’ll find love.
The most recent non-starter was Suki. But could the leggy duty free heiress and scion of deposed monarchy, Princess Olympia of Greece — a 19-year-old New York student and It-girl — be in with a chance? Or Zimbabwean ex, Chelsy Davy?
Or glamorous actress Cressida Bonas — groomed to perfection this week at the Dior couture show in Paris?
Harry’s former flames include actress Cressida Bonas, pictured left, and lawyer Chelsy Davy, right
Perhaps. But friends say almost everything about Harry’s conduct — possibly including his choice of women — shows he definitely is not ready for marriage.
Most men don’t want to marry until they know what they are going to do in life, and Harry has never been so untethered.
According to one in his circle, he misses the Army, which he left last June.
‘Harry is not by nature a loner; he functions best as part of the team, whether it’s polo, charity work or the Army.
‘He loved his Army chums and misses the adrenaline rush of frontline manoeuvres, the joshing and support from his regiment comrades.’
But though he is described as a ‘tankard half-full chap, not prone to bouts of introspection’, Harry, according to those who know his exes, is not quite the permanently cheerful, easy-going sort he appears.
He seems less evolved as a boyfriend than as a good-hearted team player.
Of course, the premature death of his mother had a devastating effect, of which he is acutely aware.
‘Harry leant heavily on William as comforter, and Charles seems to have grown into that role now that William has his own family,’ says one royal insider.
‘He is eager to try everything, as he knows life can be snatched away so quickly. He empathises with children who have suffered the early loss of a parent and is genuinely moved to tears.’
Not only that, but ‘he is, of course, quite aware of how unhappy his parents’ marriage was’.
Perhaps this is why, according to another source, ‘he holds something back. He has never given 100 per cent commitment.
Sometimes he is lonely — texting 15 times a day — but he is not always consistent. He will then go quiet.
Could one of these ladies be the one to finally encourage Prince Harry to settle down?
‘This is classic commitment phobia. Sometimes needy, sometimes aloof; neither deliberately.
‘Naturally flirty and distracted by other women, and funny and jokey, he can also be a little bit spoiled and moany about the Press and privacy, just like his brother,’ says the source.
‘But he doesn’t have William’s sense of duty or, indeed, the defined pathway of being in line for the top job. He has his mother’s charisma, some of his father’s self-pity, but also the good intentions of both.
‘Brilliant with strangers and charity work, but tricky with women; he won’t negotiate with them or put them first. That’s why they leave him.’
Chelsy and Cressida, his two most serious girlfriends, left him in the end.
One deal-breaker for Chelsy was, it is said, the fact he didn’t want her to travel by private jet because it didn’t look right, and she hated the restrictions.
Cressida, too, apparently struggled with the fact that her acting ambitions would never sit well with royal life.
All the attention is one reason he so loves Africa and seems happiest abroad, say under canvas in the Okavanga Delta.
It’s no surprise he’s attracted to women who are, if not exactly wild, then certainly opinionated free spirits. Not the sort likely to yearn for life as a dutiful princess.
Friends worry we may never see Prince Harry in a royal wedding. Pictured are his brother Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge
Take Chelsy, who ‘stood up to him’ and apparently ‘had the stamina of an ox’.
Bright, strong-willed and once able to out-party even Harry, the girl brought up in Africa who trained as a lawyer was unlikely to embrace the demands of royal life.
Then there was Cressida, who liked stomping about music festivals in Doc Martens and longed to be a major actress with producer Harvey Weinstein her willing mentor.
Again, hardly the picture of a quiet Sloane good at small talk and poised for ribbon-cutting and charity work.
Like many girls Harry meets, Cressida was introduced to him by his cousin, Princess Eugenie, a close pal despite the six-year age gap.
One contact says ‘the Yorks welcome Harry with open arms. He can do no wrong in their eyes’.
He has been a regular guest at their £12 million Swiss ski lodge Chalet Helora in Verbier, water-bombing in the indoor pool and falling out of nightclubs.
Harry relies on Eugenie as matchmaker because in his tight circle, the girls are paired off, he’s known them forever or both.
Unfortunately, almost by definition, women who ‘throw themselves at him’ are unlikely to be the answer to his problems.
‘And the women who work well in royal circles — supplicant, second-fiddle types — aren’t the sort he’s drawn to,’ says one contact.
‘This might be, unconsciously, to avoid commitment, but he has always liked a high-octane sort.’
Prince Harry has apparently taken to his uncle role, encouraging Prince George, pictured, to be naughty
Another theory is that it’s not a wife Harry is craving, but children. One acquaintance described him as ‘properly broody’.
‘However hard he finds it with girlfriends sometimes, he is brilliant with children,’ the friend said.
Another source agrees: ‘He gets on with children because he has a short attention span like them, and he’s childish.
‘He likes to encourage Prince George to be as naughty as possible — he’s the self-styled naughty uncle.’
He’s not short of shrewd family advice, however. He’s said to be particularly close to his step-mother, Camilla, and has a constant source of support in the Queen.
‘He loves her and Philip with a passion. He can joke with them and ask them for advice.
‘She was his cheerleader when he was floundering at Eton, and Windsor Castle teas were a great tonic for him . . . he likes to chat to her on the phone about his life, dogs, horse and gossip.’
His old friends, too, are said to be always there to steer him away from ‘girls on the make’.
‘Harry needs to meet another Chelsy,’ says one in his circle.
‘That is, I think, what he is looking for — someone bright, engaging, unafraid, talented, faithful and with boundless energy.’
An utterly discreet yet very livewire willing to be a Princess, but content not to be a Queen. It’s a tall order.
And the question remains — if and when such a girl does appear, will he be emotionally ready to stay the course?