Why did Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy break up?

Chelsy Davy Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Harry has returned to the United Kingdom this week for his High Court phone-hacking trial against Mirror Group Newspapers.

The Royal is said to be accusing the organisation of obtaining details about his personal life in unlawful ways and leaking them to the public, with the case resurfacing details about his former relationship with Zimbabwean heiress Chelsy Davy, who he dated in his early 20s.

According to reports, Prince Harry has opened up about the press intrusion that the former couple faced, claiming that it led to their break up. 

This is not the first time that Prince Harry has spoken about their separation, with both parties opening up about the lack of privacy in the years since their split.

Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy

Prince Harry Chelsy Davy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy met in Cape Town during his gap year in 2004, sharing an on again off again relationship for the next six years.

“I remember her being different," Prince Harry recalled of meeting Chelsy in his tell-all memoir Spare. “Unlike so many people I knew, she seemed wholly unconcerned with appearances, with propriety, with royalty. Unlike so many girls I met, she wasn’t visibly fitting herself for a crown the moment she shook my hand. She seemed immune to that common affliction sometimes called throne syndrome.

“I’d always wanted to know what it might be like to meet a woman and not have her eyes widen at the mention of my title but instead to widen them myself, using my mind, my heart. With Chelsy, that seemed a real possibility. Not only was she uninterested in my title, she seemed bored by it. ‘Oh, you’re a prince? Yawn.’”

And so began their six-year relationship, with the former couple ultimately parting ways in 2010.

Chelsy Davy Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why did Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy break up?

Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy split in 2010, and while the notoriously private couple kept tight-lipped about it at the time, they have since opened up about their relationship and the nature of their break up.

According to both parties, they split due to the lack of privacy - with Chelsy not wanting a life in the spotlight and Prince Harry unable to avoid it. 

Both Prince Harry and Chelsy have recalled the intense media attention and public scrutiny, including Chelsy being followed and even once having a tracking device put on her car.

“It was so full-on: crazy and scary and uncomfortable," Chelsy recalled. “I found it very difficult when it was bad. I couldn’t cope. I was young, I was trying to be a normal kid and it was horrible. It was nuts. That’s also why I wanted to go back to Africa. Now it’s calm, now it’s fine.”

"The whole world isn’t made to put up with constant scrutiny, and I don’t know if Chels could bear it, and I couldn’t ask her to," Prince Harry wrote about their break up in his memoir, Spare. "Chels insisted that she was not sure if she was prepared for all of that. A whole life with someone on your heels? What could I say to her?”

He added: “I completely understood her desire for freedom. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t want this life either. I would miss her very much, but I understood she put her freedom first." He concluded: "If I had the choice, I’d want to live like that as well. The day I got my wings, I figured she got hers."

Chelsy Davy Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Harry also opened up in his memoir about the moment the exes came face to face once more, with the former couple running into each other at Prince William and Kate Middleton's 2011 wedding.

“She and I weren’t in regular touch, which was why Willy checked with me before inviting her to the wedding," Prince Harry recalled of the wedding in Spare. "He didn’t want either of us to feel uncomfortable."

He continued: “There were loads of feelings still there. Feelings I’d suppressed, feelings I hadn’t suspected. I also felt a certain way about the hungry-looking men trailing after her, circling her, nagging her to dance. Jealousy got the better of me that night, and I told her so, which made me feel worse. And a bit pathetic.”

Either way, the former couple appears to have a solid friendship now, with Chelsy Davy receiving some lovely mentions in Prince Harry's memoir, and even attending his and Meghan Markle's 2018 wedding.

We will continue to update this story.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.