In the mid-2000s, it would have been a small miracle if you opened a newspaper on any given day and didn’t see a picture of Kate Middleton or Chelsy Davy.
As longtime girlfriends of Prince William and Prince Harry, there were fresh snaps of them at polo, attending society weddings, stepping out of Chelsea clubs every day.
We, of course, know what happened to the current Duchess of Cambridge: a live-streamed wedding in 2011, a rise to royal stardom and three children (one heir and two spares). But what about Harry’s old flame, Chelsy Davy?
The glamorous Zimbabwean was Harry’s most famous and longest-serving girlfriend, appearing on his arm and splashing on the pages of the tabloids for the better part of a decade. But in January this year, the 36-year-old gave birth to her first child, a baby boy called Leo, with hardly anyone outside of her inner circle even knowing she was pregnant – or, indeed, who the baby was. dad.
On one level, that’s not entirely surprising. Although Chelsy was one of the most recognizable faces in the world during the seven-year period from 2004 to 2011, where she dated Harry from time to time, she found the scrutiny of the British press difficult to manage. Since the couple broke up over a decade ago, she has resolutely tried to stay under the radar, giving only a few interviews and getting rid of many of the friends she had during her days with Harry.
Most people I talk to who ran in the same circles as her haven’t seen her in years – ‘I really have no idea who her scene is now,’ admits one West Londoner who was in her crowd – and another source who has been friends with Chelsy for over a decade said: ‘She’s been fiercely private since this new boyfriend.’
Harry and Chelsy were just teenagers when they met. Chelsy grew up in Victoria Falls – the daughter of a wealthy businessman and ex-model – in a game park twice the size of Surrey run by her father. There she roamed free, running barefoot with herds of buffaloes and fighting with monkeys as they tried to steal the balls on the tennis courts.
But when Robert Mugabe came to power and implemented his land reform program, his father was forced to give up all his arable land and their family home was destroyed. At the age of 14, the academically ambitious Chelsy realized her educational prospects at home were limited and begged her parents to let her go and go to boarding school in England. They relented and settled at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, followed by Stowe for sixth. It was here that she first met Harry.
At first the couple were just friends, and by the time Chelsy finished her A levels, she missed Africa so much that she left for the University of Cape Town to continue her education, earning a degree in EAR. When Harry arrived in town on his gap year, he decided to look for her – neither of them knew it would mark the start of the longest relationship of his life to date.
After Cape Town, Chelsy decided to return to Britain to undertake a two-year law degree at the University of Leeds – and, almost certainly, to be closer to Harry.
They were a golden couple, with Chelsy hailed as the cool and sexy girlfriend, so different from the kind of stuffy English girl Harry might have chosen. Here’s someone who wasn’t afraid to have fun – even maybe a little too much fun, if the paparazzi photos of her falling out of nightclubs were anything to see – and you saw her often the cheering from the sidelines at polo matches, wearing a mini skirt and a mischievous smile.
Known for her contagious laugh – a guttural ex-smoker growl – she was a refreshing antidote to the wiser Kate Middleton.
During their relationship, Chelsy was part of an ensemble known as the “Glosse Posse” (so named for its Gloucestershire connections), an exclusive gang of friends which included Prince Harry, Guy Pelly, Natasha Rufus Isaacs and Tom “Skippy” Inskip, one of Harry’s closest childhood friends. They all gathered at ‘Club H’, Harry and Prince William’s basement lair in Highgrove. The young couple went on vacation to South Africa with her family, she was invited to Prince Charles’ 60and birthday and it was Chelsy who was alongside Harry at the Diana Memorial Concert in London in 2007.
But while they were very much in love – in the 2011 documentary ‘William and Kate in the future’, royal author Richard Kay noted that Chelsy was Harry’s ‘true love’ and that there was ‘a great passion between them” – cracks were beginning to appear. As a lawyer for the city’s “magic circle” law firm Allen & Overy, Chelsy worked hard and sometimes partied harder, but unsurprisingly, only stories about her drunken nighttime antics found their way into newspapers. “Chelsy’s Five-hour Bender” shouted one world news title in 2005; “Chelsy Shows She Can Out-Party Prince Harry” was still proclaiming two years later. Even after they broke up, the paparazzi still followed her wherever she went. “Partying till 7am, flirting with handsome men… Looks like Chelsy doesn’t really miss her prince,” read one Daily mail title right after their breakup.
The press was relentless in its pursuit; In the two-part BBC series ‘Princes and the Press’ last year, a private detective, Gavin Burrows, revealed his efforts to dig up Chelsy, saying she had become an “object of obsession” for investigators, claiming that the hacking phone was used to obtain information about her. “There was a lot of voicemail hacking, there was a lot of surveillance work on his phones, on his communications,” he said. “Chelsy was bragging to her friends when she went to see him.” He said investigators were particularly interested in her medical records – “did she have an abortion, sexual illnesses?” — along with information about her ex-boyfriends and details about her upbringing, though Burrows’ claims have yet to be tested in court and are heavily disputed.
A deeply private person, Chelsy struggled with the level of scrutiny. In an interview with The temperature in 2016, she revealed, “It was so complete: crazy, scary and uncomfortable. I found it very difficult when it was bad. I couldn’t cope. I was young, trying to be a normal kid and it was horrible. Harry even spoke about the subject when he gave an interview to mark his 21st birthday. “I can see how upset she is,” he said. “My girlfriend is someone who is very special to me, and yes, she has been through some very difficult times.”
The final straw is said to have come when William and Kate got engaged and Chelsy saw the media frenzy that surrounded the royal wedding. In royal author Robert Lacey’s 2020 book, Battle of the Brothershe wrote: “According to a friend, she told Harry she could never make the sacrifices she had seen Kate make, especially when it came to shaping her life around the relentless attention of the press.”
After their split, Chelsy took refuge in Zimbabwe before returning to London and living a relatively low-key life at a series of bachelor parties in Chelsea and South Kensington. She quit her high-profile job at City and started her own business in 2016, an African jewelry brand called Aya, which she recently expanded to incorporate lifestyle and travel elements.
She attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018 and said she will “always be good friends” with the prince, but no longer runs in the same circles as before. Instead, she cultivated an incredibly close core of friends – among them Lady Melissa Percy, whom she met through Harry, and Irene Forte, the daughter of hotelier Rocco Forte – who would have been the first to know about her relationship with the father. of her child, the handsome Old Etonian Sam Cutmore-Scott.
Since Harry, Chelsy has managed to keep her later romantic relationships quiet – until recently, her last known boyfriend was TV producer James Marshall, whom she split from in 2018. In an interview with Tatler in 2020, Chelsy revealed there was a special someone in her life, but declined to share her name. “Yeah there is, and I’m pretty taken with this one, but it’s very new and I don’t want to say too much.”
It is almost certain that boyfriend was Sam, with whom she was photographed in Soho in 2019. Now it is reported that she has left her South Kensington flat to live in Sam’s four-storey Victorian terrace in Chiswick (her removal from her usual paparazzi- SW3-filled playground is believed to be why no one knew about her pregnancy). And if recent photographs of her wearing a huge sapphire ring are to be believed, the duo are about to get married.
So who is Sam Cutmore-Scott? Although he may have been in the year above Harry at Eton, the 37-year-old has never been a key player on the social scene – in fact, no one I spoke to in the former Chelsy set didn’t even know who he was, and all the Old Etonians I asked knew best about his dashing younger brother Jack, an actor who starred in Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning film Principle and the American drama series Deception.
A successful hotelier, an Oxford graduate, Sam is director of his parents’ hotel company, the Bijou Collection, which has four exclusive wedding venues, including an abbey in Buckinghamshire and a castle in the south of France, and the last year he opened an upmarket Norfolk. hotel, The Harper, which he owns with his family.
Norfolk has clearly become something of a haven for Chelsy too. “She spends a lot of time there,” says a friend. Chelsy has already put her own stamp on the hotel, where the spa is stocked with products from Irene Forte’s beauty line, and a glance at her Instagram page reveals a photo of her cockapoo, Biscuit, sitting in a roller bathtub at the property. She also shared footage of walking her dogs on the beach a few miles away.
It’s unclear what Chelsy’s next move will be now that she has Leo, who she gave birth to at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in January. “I think she’ll continue with the travel side of her business in particular,” a pal says. “I feel for her, because she’s not comfortable in the public eye and now there’s all this interest in her again.”
There’s one thing everyone I talk to agrees on. “She will be an amazing mother.”