Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 1 October 2016

Gemma Styles: Could You Handle Dating A Royal?

Gemma Styles: Could You Handle Dating A Royal?

The Debrief: Social media has ruined plenty a ‘regular couple’ relationship to break up - so how could anyone handle the intense online pressure of dating a royal?

Photo by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

Continuing with our heartaches and break ups season (unplanned but everywhere right now), this week it's time to talk about Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas. We've seen social media ruining regular couple' relationships, and we've seen celebrity break ups plastered all over social media, but this one is an interesting mixture of the two. 

Reportedly, Cressida called time on her romance with the loveable rogue, Prince Henry of Wales, because she was unable to deal with the "constant criticism" on social media. This isn't the most up to date break up news, as the pair stopped seeing each other back in 2014, but biographer Ingrid Seward has revealed conversations with Cressida's friends citing online scrutiny as a key factor in the split decision. 

When I read about this story I was struck by the two dimensional portrayal of Cressida. Maybe we don't know that much about her, but in a mini bio of the 27 year old actress and model, she was summed up by the following: ‘Daughter of four times married Lady Mary-Gaye Georgiana Lorna Curzon, a Sixties It girl. A Burberry model, Cressida went to Stowe school and Leeds University. Once described by Tatler as “really pretty” and “really nice.”’ At least they put in where she went to school, but she's basically being described only by her relationships to other people. I don't know what she studied at university but I know her mum has been married four times. So what? What does that tell us about the girl who's the subject of the whole discussion?

It must be exhausting to be known primarily as ‘Prince Harry's girlfriend.’ Constantly judged on the street and especially on social media. This isn't a family relationship, but a chosen one, and one that she decided to opt out of in the end. The typical 'girl's' dream of growing up and getting together with Prince Charming perhaps isn't quite as wonderful as we're conditioned to believe.

Because she's mainly viewed for her relationships rather than her work, interests or endeavours, this is what everyone talks about on social media. The word that keeps popping up again and again is ‘pretty’ - but pretty isn't enough to save you once the jealous internet gets involved. Seward described the trouble; ‘They would whip out their phones and take photos of her. They'd say “oh look at her hair,” “oh look at her clothes,” “look at her boots, she hasn't got her laces done up,” I mean this is just a normal, pretty girl and she just couldn't take it.’ There's the P word again. Yes, she's pretty, but is she perfect? Is she a princess? What does she have that I don't have? She's not good enough.

I do feel a bit sorry for Prince Harry in this scenario too, I have to say. Cressida isn't the first love interest to apparently decide they couldn't handle the pressure of dating or even marrying a royal boy. Chelsy Davy, who dated Harry on and off for seven years, didn't want to live the life of a royal wife, with the constant pressure to be perfect. Maybe the taste of the criticism in just two years of dating was enough to put Cressida off going any further. Hopefully some time off from being ‘the girlfriend’ has given her some time to relax in the shade and duck out of the spotlight. It gets hot under there.

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