A few weeks ago, doing a valiant job promoting the Invictus Games, Prince Harry gave a series of interviews to the press.
He talked, among other things, about how incredibly difficult it is for him to start up any kind of relationship with a girl because of press intrusion.
We can all imagine it, but it is probably only the truly famous who can really identify with Harry’s plight.
People, like, for example, the British singer Ellie Goulding, who has been variously linked with everyone from Ed Sheeran to assorted members of One Direction on the flimsiest of evidence – and is now being linked to Harry after the two were reportedly seen ‘canoodling’ under a blanket at a polo after party.
In the Invictus interview with the Sunday Times, Harry said, “If or when I do find a girlfriend, I will do my utmost... to ensure that me and her can get to the point where we’re actually comfortable with each other before the massive invasion that is inevitably going to happen into her privacy.
“If I even talk to a girl, that person is then suddenly my wife, and people go knocking on her door," he added.
If Harry is not in the process of developing a relationship with Ellie Goulding, then the reports in the Sun this week will rightly be seen by his camp as a classic illustration of exactly what Harry was talking about.
Maybe they just danced and chatted, and the Sun got carried away with its ‘eyewitness’, who claimed, “Harry and Ellie only had eyes for each other all night – they spent a lot of time sitting together under blankets.
“They were seen having a kiss before Harry had to go because he was playing polo the next day. Ellie left about five minutes later.”
Intriguingly, however, friends of Harry’s are not engaged in informal briefings rubbishing this story as they often are after bogus romance tales, and, whisper it, it might just be the case that Harry and Ellie really are sending each other ‘flirty texts’ and seeing if they can build a relationship, as the Sun claims.
The point is, awful and old-fashioned as it might sound, Harry’s going to have to marry someone in the end. And, like the rest of us, he isn’t getting any younger.
And before we dismiss the idea of the Prince and the pop star out of hand let’s consider the plus points about the delightful Miss Goulding: she’s gorgeous, blonde (huge tick), confident, successful in her own right, bags of fun and, an important point this, she shares Harry’s passion for conservation.
The morning the story broke, Goulding added tens of thousands of social media followers. Rather than use this spike in name recognition to attack the press reports (as so many might have been tempted to do) she began tweeting about a little-known menace to the entire marine ecosystem; microbeads, grains of plastic so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye which are routinely added to products like toothpaste to give abrasive qualities.
Millions of tonnes of microbeads wash down drains and slip through sewage treatment filters that weren’t designed for such fine particles and end up in the oceans. They will be banned in the US from 2017.
It’s exactly this kind of grown up response to media intrusion that Harry, who tends to get angry instead, needs to develop.
And the royals and Goulding go back some way now.
It is not known when they first met, but Ellie, 29, has been friends with the young royal set for several years now. She provided the musical entertainment at William’s wedding and attended the closing ceremony for Harry’s Invictus Games in 2014. She performed at Prince Harry’s 30th birthday party in September.
She is utterly unfazed by royal status and has said previously of Will and Kate: “I’m friends with them, so it’s not like it’s awkward because I don’t know them. So that’s fine.”
Let’s hope Harry and Ellie are finding themselves tempted to become more than just good friends, because if they are, a pop star wife could be the surprising right answer to Harry’s long, drawn out, romantic dilemma.