‘Spare’: Prince Harry broke up with Cressida Bonas after a ski trip

Something I didn’t expect to appreciate about Prince Harry, while I read Spare, was his graciousness in writing about his relationships before Meghan. He clearly adored Chelsy Davy and he wrote about their on-and-off relationship with a lot of love and affection. So too with his more mature relationship with Cressida Bonas. Remember how Cressida’s friends tried to say that Harry proposed to Cressida and she turned him down? While Harry doesn’t address that rumor directly, he did detail how he broke up with her and why he credits Cressida with being the first person to get him to open up about his mother’s death. The first part, about opening up to Cressida while they were skiing in Switzerland:

We’d gone back to my cousin’s chalet, where we were staying, and Cress was washing her face, brushing her teeth, while I was sitting on the edge of the bath. We were talking about nothing special, as I recall, but suddenly she asked about my mother.

Unique. A girlfriend asking about my mother. But it was also the way she asked. Her tone was just the right blend of curiosity and compassion. The way she reacted to my answer was just right too. Surprised, concerned, with no judgment.

Maybe other factors were at play as well. The alchemy of physical fatigue and Swiss hospitality. The fresh air and alcohol. Maybe it was the softly falling snow outside the windows, or the culmination of seventeen years of suppressed grief. Maybe it was maturity. Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, I answered her, straight-out, and then started to cry.

I remember thinking: Oh, I’m crying. And saying to her: This is the first time I’ve…

Cressida leaned towards me: What do you mean…first time?

This is the first time I’ve been able to cry about my mum since the burial.

Wiping my eyes, I thanked her. She was the first person to help me across that barrier, to help me unleash the tears. It was cathartic, it accelerated our bond, and added an element rare in past relationships: immense gratitude.

[From Spare by Prince Harry]

He writes about being “indebted” to Cressida for that, for helping him open up and cry about Diana. He then writes about taking another ski trip with Cressida to Kazakhstan, during which “I’d realized that we weren’t a match. I just knew. Cress, I think, knew as well.”

There was massive affection, deep and abiding loyalty—but not love everlasting. 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.

…She was staying with a friend. Her bedroom was on the ground floor, windows looking onto the street. I heard cars and people going by as I sat gingerly on the bed and told her my thinking. She nodded. None of it seemed to surprise her. These things had been on her mind as well.

I’ve learned so much from you, Cress.

She nodded. She looked at the floor, tears running down her cheeks.

Damn, I thought.

She helped me cry. And now I’m leaving her in tears.

[From Spare by Prince Harry]

So… yeah, he dumped her. He was maturing, he realized it wasn’t a forever-love and so he ended things. I remember that he also kept in contact with Cressida after he dumped her too – he went to see a play she was in, right? And he invited her to his wedding. She was and is still close to Princess Eugenie too. I think the fact that Harry broke up with her is why Cressida has – at times – given off the vibe that she doesn’t really care for Meghan though.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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62 Responses to “‘Spare’: Prince Harry broke up with Cressida Bonas after a ski trip”

  1. Brassy Rebel says:

    In reading the book, I was able to see these women as fully formed human beings for the first time. In the tabloid accounts of these relationships, they always seemed like very superficial party girls that Harry hooked up with. His loving descriptions of them presented them as beautiful human beings who all helped him become the man he is now. I hope they’re grateful to him too. He shows us they are real people.

    • Becks1 says:

      I agree. I was surprised/impressed with how he wrote about them and how much respect and affection he clearly still has for them (not in a creepy “still in love with them” kind of way but in a “these are good people and they represent different eras in my life and I respect them” kind of way. I feel like he really gave a good picture of Chelsey beyond just the tabloid party girl.

      • sunny says:

        This part. He writes with such love and kindness about his exes in a way that shows that while those relationships didn’t work out were not forever love they were meaningful and the women he loved in the past helped shape him. I thought it came off as remarkably mature and respectful.

    • Rebecca says:

      We have to suspect the ghostwriter had a hand in their portrayal.

      • MrsBanjo says:

        Why? Why do we *have* to suspect that the care in how they’re described is due to the ghostwriter and not Harry?

      • Stelle says:

        The ghostwriter doesn’t know them so how can he depict them as full people if Harry doesn’t tell him who they are. He told him who they were and he saw them, the ghostwriter just retranscribe that in prose but let’s not diminish the collaborative work to make this book. The way people are describe can’t be only based on the ghostwriter. This makes no sense, especially when it’s real people, it’s not some fictional character. It’s very personnal because the way the people are represent is based on Harry’s feelings and perception of them.

      • Tan says:

        Please use the word I and not we. It’s your opinion so pls stand strongly behind it

    • SenseOfTheAbsurd says:

      Remember that when the tabloids were going crazy because there were no leaks about the book for them to feed on, one of the stories that came out was that Harry had contacted his exes, and this was somehow a terrible thing, when clearly it was about getting their consent and the parameters of what they were comfortable revealing.

    • BusyBea says:

      Listen to the Audio. In his own words as he reads them……………he wasn’t interested in Cressida. He was nice and kind but the tone of his words speaks volumes

    • Tarzana says:

      Yeah, it reads to me like H dumped Cressy because she wasn’t about that Royal life. H ended up leaving that Royal life in the end. That he left for another woman (of color) after dumping Cressy, has to make you feel a certain type of way. It has to sting beyond something fierce.

    • Christine says:

      I could not be more with you if I tried, Brassy Rebel. I thought I was a conscientious consumer of everything royal family, and by that I mean I thought I saw through the BS (royal and British media), but I realized in the sections about Cressida and Chelsy (that I have read so far, I haven’t finished) that I had ALL kinds of feelings about them, absolutely none of them earned by any of them.

  2. Abby says:

    I think he handled how he talked about his past relationships really well. This must have been a hard situation, but they both come out looking gracious.

  3. goofpuff says:

    Cressida’s vibe of not liking Meghan could just be her feeling awkward around Meghan because she doesn’t know her very well and it’s an ex’s wedding. Some awkwardness in public with the world watching you is expected. If Harry and Eugenie stays friends with her then its a sign that she’s not bad in private to Meghan at least to me.

    • Liz Version 700 says:

      Such a good point. I feel weird running into exs at the grocery store, much less at a wedding that is televised!?

    • ThatsNotOkay says:

      From what I read, that she seems to have leaked, she seemed smug and wanted the world to know that Meghan wasn’t his first choice. That she dumped him and she was thriving and is better off without him. Kind of bitter and angry that she doesn’t have the spotlight she says she never wanted.

      • C says:

        People can criticize me for saying this but I’ll stand by it, I think it definitely chapped both Cressida’s and Chelsy’s asses at least just a little bit that he married a WOC. I remember the horrible racist comments about Meghan on Chelsy’s instagram in 2018 that she let run rampant.
        That doesn’t mean they haven’t moved on, but this is the same memoir that called Kate warm and sweet, so, yeah, lol.

      • Chloe says:

        Maybe in the back of her head she had always kind of hoped harry would leave royal life for her? She would have made a career as an actress (how’s that going for her now) and he would have stayed in the army. And they would have made a life together. Maybe this is how she pictured it and although she saw the break up coming, had hoped that he wouldn’t?

        Anyway it’s clear harry never proposed to her so all the whiners can suck on that.

      • Ginger says:

        Agreed C. I will always side eye Chelsy for that.

  4. JMoney says:

    I believe he did propose to her and purposely did not dispute other things reported in the press to not let the press know they were right in some of their stories. Case in point this one.

    Cressida like Chelsy enjoy mingling and staying in aristo circles (as they are now) but did not want to marry into the top aristo family for a reason. They saw their families would be exposed and their own ambitions thwarted in service to W.

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      I don’t think he ever proposed. If he did it would have been leaked. Ingrid Seward her mother’s mouthpiece and a whole host of other reporters would have labeled him a cruel heartbreaker. Plus he would have said so in the book to get ahead of it.

      • Stelle says:

        Exactly, if it was the case, Ingrid Seward would have spent her lifetime talking about it everywhere. To this day, she’s still bitter he didn’t.

      • Dot Gingell says:

        I don’t think so either. Word would have spread whether she’d answered yes or no. Many couples do talk about possible future outcomes and where their relationship might go, all they’re doing is thinking about ‘what if…?’ scenarios.

      • Annalise says:

        I truly believe that Harry secretly knew for a long time before meeting Meghan, that he would marry an American, and move to America. I think a part of him knew he would leave the royal family, and, in addition to moving to America likely being easier with an American, I think it was also because Americans/America represented the freedom he wanted, but knew he couldn’t have in England. As well as what his mother had wanted for herself.
        Harry and Cressida never would have lasted because she seems perfectly content in the UK, in her little insular aristo world, whereas I think Harry loathed that world and was desperate to escape

    • Stelle says:

      He didn’t ask her to marry her. He would have said it. The whole time he was talking about his relationship with her, he was always wishing to have a family but spoke like he was doomed to end up alone WHILE being in a relationship with her. Like the idea to marry her and have children wasn’t even something he had in mind in any moment. The moment, he broke up with her made sense. I don’t understand how anyone would read the section about their relationship and believe he has ask her to marry at any point.
      One of the moment, that truly stayed in my mind is when they were at one of his friend’s wedding and all he had in mind is how this joy his friend were living he would probably not live that. That was incredibly sad and I understood how that relationship with Cressida, as nice and understanding she was wouldn’t work long term. It’s good he didn’t made her believe they would get engaged and ended thing when he did.

    • Ginger says:

      There is no way he proposed. He said he broke up with her on a ski trip and he would have no reason to lie. It’s clear those two had zero chemistry and he knew it.

    • Lorna says:

      They would have told Tina Brown. They would have definitely said so. Her family seems upset she didn’t get him. She seems salty at times. He didn’t propose and he dumped her.

      • C says:

        And let’s not forget Chelsy sitting down for Tatler in 2020 for an interview piece titled “The One That Got Away”, lol, where it claims she’s happy in her niche away from all of the “Sussex drama”.
        Her “friends” and “sources” run to Richard Eden of all people to give him scoops about her life.

    • Athena says:

      @JMONEY. Cressida is a full fledge aristo, her maternal grandfather was the 6th Earl Howe. She has a bunch of half siblings, all aristo by birth. I’m just saying that her relationship with Harry did not place her in that circle, she was born to it.

      • Tessa says:

        This is through the maternal line
        Cressidas father is a commoner so cressida did not have a title. The aristo designation comes through the male line although she has aristo descent.

  5. Chantal says:

    At least he didn’t string her along for a decade while pursuing other women, which was quite mature. How sad that it was so rare that anyone showed genuine interest in PH’s feelings.

    Its good they didn’t just settle for one another and were able to maintain some type of friendship. She also wanted her own career as an actress despite being an aristo. She now has her own handsome Harry (IIRC they had dated before she got with PH and reunited). They both found the ones they were meant to be with and seem happy so things worked out for the best.

    • Tessa says:

      She was an actress but gave up the career after marriage. She was never criticized for being an actress but Meghan was (and Meghan was a lot more successful) which really showed the double standard. Cressida appeared in a bit part in Tulip Fever and did local theatre productions.

  6. AnneL says:

    I also thought he was very chivalrous and warm about his exes. He clearly cared for them and he wrote about them with respect and affection. I admit that it I got a tear in my eye reading about how it ended with Chelsey, how one of his surrogate parents helped them to see it was time to end things. They were so young, and it just wasn’t meant to be. I’ve been there.

    • Ginger says:

      Yeah, when they asked if Harry could see himself marrying Chelsy and he couldn’t. I am glad he cleared up a lot of rumors on his relationships. He wasn’t out there proposing to everyone. He was looking for the one and he finally found it with Meghan. I knew Harry wasn’t going to be shady about his exes, it’s not who he is. He handled this with class and affection.

      • ThatsNotOkay says:

        And Meghan was someone willing to be part of his life, scrutiny and all. Partly because she was naive about it and the British press. He kept her in the dark on that part for fear he’d lose her. But she was in it for the long hall. They’re meant to be regardless.

  7. Tessa says:

    I doubt he proposed to her. I think she would have said yes if he had. And Seward did write that she hoped Harry would marry Cressida. If he had proposed she would have no need to write that. I don’t think he was interested enough to see her as a future wife.

    • Mel says:

      Honestly, I don’t think Cressida or Chelsy wanted to marry into that family. They saw the mess it made of his life, it’s all fun and games until you realize that you would have to endure that for the rest of your life.

      • Tempest says:

        I agree. Neither of them wanted to marry Harry for obvious reasons. So it was mutual, Harry didn’t want to marry them and they didn’t want to marry him.

      • Ginger says:

        I think this is true for Harry and Chelsy. He said that they had the same problems and that is why they both decided to part ways. Harry said he changed while in the military and Chelsy still liked to party and be free. He knew it wasn’t meant to be. The media definitely played a part but they just were not meant to be.

      • Emily says:

        I don’t think they wanted it either. They were familiar enough with that life to know what it would be like. I’m sure there is some sadness that Harry gave it up for someone else. That thought, could we have worked if he’d stepped away back then?

    • C says:

      I agree with you, Tessa.

    • Jegede says:

      I doubt it too.

      I remember the CONSTANT briefing from the Bonas family & Ingrid Seward to friendly press outlets about how: “Cressie WILL marry Harry”.
      “Imminent Engagement.”
      “Summer 2014 wedding to be announced.”
      “Prince Harry’s girlfriend Cressida Bonas has finally realised that she is happy to marry him, The Telegraph can reveal”. – 05 October 2013 •

  8. blue says:

    Wasn’t part of it that Cressida would have had to give up her dance or acting career?
    That was mentioned before & during the break up period.

  9. Julia K says:

    I have a lot of respect for people who do not trash their exes.

    • SomeChick says:

      if someone isn’t friends with any of their exes, it’s a big red flag. Harry seems fond of all of his. he’s a good man.

  10. aquarius64 says:

    Ingrid Seward was crying in her cocktail over this break up and wrote an op-ed for Harry to take Cressida back if I recall.

    Cressida ticked all the boxes to make her accepted in the BRF (save Kate) which is probably a big factor of why they didn’t want Meghan. Harry wanted to marry for love and he didn’t see Cressida for long term. Kudos for not slagging her in the book.

  11. ROAA says:

    He never showed any love or interest for her in public. I don’t even know why they dated in the first place.

    • Tessa says:

      There are photos of her giving him adoring looks and he looks straight ahead. He would rush past her when they left a car.

    • Ginger says:

      I think because she was Eugenie’s close friend and he was trying to find someone that the RF would accept. Over time he realized she wasn’t for him and he ended things.

    • Jeged says:


      In almost every single picture of them, they have the chemistry of wet cabbage.

      Did Harry & Cressida even hold hands in public?

      At least with Chelsy there was heat.

  12. S808 says:

    His words implied a lot of love and respect for them both, especially chelsy. It definitely seems like it just wasn’t the right time. He was still bouncing back and forth between happy spike and prince Harry. He still had a lot of growing to do.

  13. girl_ninja says:

    He is very respectful of the women that he chooses to share about in the book. The woman he dated before Meghan really broke my heart for him because he said that they had a great connection. But the British press found out and scared the hell out of her. Meghan really wanted him and his love and to build a life together, I am so happy that they found each other because even hearing about how her former husband was she too was looking for her match.

    • Stelle says:

      It wasn’t her that got scared by the British media. It was a girl named Flee. She’s the one who he got a good connection then her mother told her to not bother to continue because the media would destroy her.
      He said his first date with Cressida wasn’t good and she felt the same way, they both told this to Eugenie but decided to try again but they clearly didn’t have a connection right away.

      • girl_ninja says:

        Yes. I’m aware. I wrote the woman he dated before he met Meghan. I just didn’t say her name. I didn’t want to thread jack in case Kaiser was going to write a post about her.

    • Stelle says:

      The thing is the woman Flee was before Cressida not just before Meghan. He dated no one after Cressida, he said he was basically in hiding mode during 2015, just work and getting home.

  14. MY3CENTS says:

    She’s always given me Diana vibes.
    I think it’s the eyes, she has this sadness about her.

  15. Andrea says:

    He didn’t seem that into her from the book. Bit of fun, bit of sex is how I read between the lines for her. He wanted to give her a proper go since she was friends with Eugenie, whom he is quite close to.

    Chelsy sounded like his big first love that he couldn’t let go of even when it was dead in the water, but then finally moved on.

  16. Eenie Googles says:

    Look I want to read this book but the writing is…not good.

  17. Pooperscooper says:

    She came off as incredibly boring and a social climber honestly.

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