Why Harry Got Dumped

Princess Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton diagnoses why party girl Chelsy Davy left the man she knew would never be king.

01.26.09 4:00 PM ET

Prince Harry, the fun one, is in Chelsy mourning, dumped after five years by his blonde bombshell girlfriend who, by all accounts, got tired of waiting around for the laddish games to stop. Nor did she see much future hanging around for the next couple of years for him to finish his training as a helicopter pilot.

With her departure goes any chance of the House of Windsor becoming the House of Fun again. Alas we are stuck with earnest William, who grows more dour and Charles-like by the day, and his apparent choice, Kate Middle of the Road, a girl pleasant and blameless to the point of being earnestly dull.

Harry can take some comfort in the fact that he is not the first, nor will he be the last prince, to be cursed by his birth.

Harry was always the leavening one in the royal family, the cute redheaded mischief-maker who was naughty, cheeky and never looked like he was taking life too seriously. While he was having a laugh, poor William braced his shoulders for all the hopes and dreams of the centuries to fall. “When I grow up I want to be a policeman and look after mummy,” William once said to his brother. “You can’t,” replied Harry impishly. “You’ve got to be king.”

Alas, though, Harry got haughty. First he was caught out when he wore a Nazi uniform for a fancy dress party and didn’t realize that the public didn’t get the joke. More recently he had to issue a public apology after a video was posted on a tabloid website which showed him calling one of his Army colleagues a "Paki" and another a “towelhead.” Both are deemed terms of racial abuse—struggling celebrities have been thrown out of TV’s Big Brother house for less. If this was Harry trying to be one of the lads—the video also showed him making a mock phone call to the Queen—it revealed he inhabited a different social landscape to most of modern Britain. Certainly it was strange talk for a lad who was reportedly heartbroken to be called back from Afghanistan, because it meant leaving “his boys” behind.

Therein perhaps lay the problem for our Chelsy girl—not only is he all about the lads, embarrassing her by accepting lap dances and snogging barmaids whilst out on the town with his colleagues—such casual racism might not strike warmth in the heart of a girl from Cape Town, a city where apartheid was a daily reality.

While supportive of each other, William and Harry have always been two sides of the royal coin, Harry inheriting the reckless, devil-may-care Spencer streak, William exhibiting the Hanoverian bloodline, all purpose and duty. The women they chose have turned out to be equally opposite. Chelsy, daughter of an Zimbabwean safari entrepreneur, seemed like the perfect foil to Harry’s wild ways—a party girl, cool and casual, photographed in bikinis on sunny, fun-filled holidays. By contrast, Kate Middleton sported sensible shoes and mid-calf skirts. To look at them, Kate would appear to be the studious and strong type determined to be known for more than her man.

But no, the crazy eight turned out to be the glamorous Chelsy, who is studying for a postgraduate degree in law at Leeds University. She wants to be a lawyer and no matter how privileged your upbringing—and Chelsy is blessed with a rich and loving family—it is not a profession where the Bank of Mum and Dad can bail you out. By contrast Kate, now known as "Waity Katy" because she spends her life hanging around for her prince to come, has merely dabbled with the world of work. She still lives with her parents and now, at least for public consumption, she helps in the family mail-order business.

While a world away from the sunny skies of her family’s home in Cape Town and the refinements of London, Chelsy’s present home in Leeds is probably just right for where she is in her life just now. It’s the sort of town where, should you be born with a silver spoon in your mouth, it would be stolen from you sharpish.

In fact, I was in Leeds, my hometown, just this weekend, and was reminded of its hardscrabble ways, its undercurrent of violence, where my own dear mother has bolted down her window boxes to prevent them from being stolen—yet again. It is, though, a party town where the girls brave the freezing night in skimpy concoctions of mini skirt, tube top and shiny high heels. So far so Chelsy, a girl who never said no to a mini.

As a down-to-earth town where plain speaking is a virtue, Leeds is the perfect place for bringing a prince down a peg or two. Which Chelsy has done, telling the world that, after a romance lasting five years, she wants her life back. The announcement was in the modern version of the Court Circular, Chelsy altering her Facebook profile to say “Relationship: Not in one.” While it robs the House of Windsor of a character who added much-needed glamour and sex appeal to the soap opera, she is free.

Harry can take some comfort in the fact that he is not the first, nor will he be the last prince, to be cursed by his birth. Before Prince Charles asked Lady Diana Spencer to be his wife, he had already popped the question to several other scions of the aristocracy who graciously declined. All cited that fact that they did not want to spend their lives in the public eye. Instead they wanted to live a life that they chose.

Leeds is where I grew up… seems it’s where Chelsy did, too.

Andrew Morton is one of the world's best-known biographers and a leading authority on modern celebrity. His groundbreaking biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, is a modern classic, while his latest New York Times No. 1 bestseller his fourth on Tom Cruise has made headlines around the world. Morton’s portrait of Monica Lewinsky revealed the young woman behind the blue dress, while his biography of Madonna nailed the myths and legends surrounding her controversial life.