BONAS TRACK: It looks as if tiny Prince George of Cambridge — the latest royal news maker — may be upstaged this year by Uncle Harry, who is shifting his relationship with girlfriend Cressida Bonas, 25, into high gear.
On Monday the British press was fizzing with excitement over the prince’s two public outings — and public displays of affection — over the past week with posh, blonde Bonas, known as “Cressy.” Although the two have been quietly seeing each other on-and-off for the past two years (she apparently dumped Harry, 29, after his naked escapades in a Las Vegas hotel suite in 2012), they have taken pains not to be photographed in public together.
This story first appeared in the March 11, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But their love life is clearly revving up: On Friday, they attended their first public engagement as a couple at Wembley Arena, where the young prince, who is fourth in line to the throne, addressed 12,000 students in the U.K.’s first We Day, a youth empowerment event. The usually low-profile Bonas kissed the prince in full view of photographers, and cheered his speech from the stands. On Sunday, the two attended a rugby match between England and Wales at Twickenham, where they were photographed gazing at each other when they weren’t following the tackles.
“Is Cressida set to meet the Queen at Balmoral?” said a Daily Mail headline on Monday. Columnist Sebastian Shakespeare seems to think so: “This could be the prelude to a formal engagement announcement. I hear that Prince Harry is planning to take Cressida Bonas to Balmoral this summer,” he wrote, adding that it’s “the talk of the estate.”
Balmoral Castle is the Queen’s estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and is where she spends the summer and early fall. When they were at university, Prince William and his future wife Kate Middleton spent time in a weekend cottage on the estate.
The Daily Mail wasn’t alone in speculating about the possibility of a new royal union. “Is this Prince’s hint there will soon be a royal engagement?” asked The Daily Telegraph, pointing out that the couple “will be well aware that their public display of affection can only increase speculation that they are preparing the ground for a future royal wedding.”
Bonas has little in common with Harry’s ex, the bold and blonde Zimbabwean Chelsy Davy, who joined the law firm Allen & Overy last spring as a trainee lawyer. That relationship apparently broke down because of Davy’s ambitions for her career, and fears of being sucked into the vortex of royal life.
Bonas, who met Prince Harry through his first cousin Princess Eugenie, is more sporty and bohemian than glamour puss. She favors sneakers — sometimes with sequins — skinny jeans, biker jackets, woolly caps, denim overalls at music festivals and skinny dresses for evening. She often braids bits of her long blonde hair, and loves dark nail polish, like many a London twentysomething. Think Cara Delevingne without the edge — or the modeling contracts.
Bonas studied dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich, London, and at Leeds University. She now works in theater public relations, a strong sign — at least according to the British press — that she’s putting potential royal duties in front of a career on the stage.
Bonas is the daughter of Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon, a socialite and former model, and her third husband Jeffrey Bonas, chairman of MacCulloch & Wallis, the fabrics shop and haberdashery off Oxford Street. Her half-sister, Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe-Branson, is the actress wife of Sam Branson, and the woman who famously spurned Prince William, who was smitten with her for a period.
The Daily Mail has reported that Bonas already holds a security pass for Kensington Palace, home of Harry; that her family has welcomed the young prince with warmth and enthusiasm, and that there are plans in motion for the couple to take part in a charity rowing, cycling and hiking challenge led by Sir Richard Branson later this year.
Betting agency Paddy Power has 1 to 3 odds on Bonas being the next royal bride, while other bookmakers have the odds of Prince Harry’s engagement this year down to 8 to 13. Let the royal games begin.