Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas: a hint of a royal engagement?

The couple, who have previously done their best to avoid being photographed together, will be aware that their public display of affection can only increase speculation that they are preparing the ground for a future royal wedding.

Bookmakers have slashed the odds on an engagement announcement in 2014 to just 8/13 and the Prince, at 29, is approaching the age at which most members of the Royal family are already married. 

On Friday Miss Bonas, a 24-year-old dance graduate, accompanied the Prince to an official engagement for the first time, in what was interpreted as a clear sign that the couple are increasingly confident in their relationship.

On that occasion, Miss Bonas posed happily for photographers and kissed the Prince at the launch of the We Day UK young people’s charity event at Wembley Arena, where the Prince addressed 12,000 students.

During performances by the singers Ellie Goulding and Dizzee Rascal, Prince Harry and Miss Bonas sat in a VIP area with Princess Beatrice and Miss Bonas’s half sister Isabella Calthorpe and her husband Sam Branson. The couple have been dating for two years, but have in the past done everything in their power to avoid being photographed together, entering and leaving venues separately whenever possible.

Miss Bonas, casually dressed and with her nails painted black, appeared entirely relaxed in the knowledge that cameras were trained on her in the early spring sunshine.

Miss Bonas, a graduate of Leeds University, is the daughter of Sixties model Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon, daughter of the late Earl Howe, and her ex-husband Jeffrey Bonas, chairman of the haberdashery firm MacCulloch& Wallis.

She was introduced to the Prince by his cousin Princess Eugenie, who is part of her social circle. Miss Bonas has four siblings and half-siblings, including Isabella, who was once romantically linked to the Duke of Cambridge.

Miss Bonas works in Soho, where she has a job in marketing, and reportedly has a security pass for Kensington Palace, the Prince’s London home, though she lives with one of her sisters.

Two years ago, at around the time Prince Harry began dating Miss Bonas, he complained about the difficulty of finding a partner who would be willing to put up with the scrutiny of being a prospective member of the Royal family.

In an interview with US television, he said: “I’m not so much searching for someone to fulfil the role, but obviously, you know, finding someone that would be willing to take it on.”

His relationship with his only previous long-term girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, ended in 2009 when she decided she did not to want to live with the constraints attached to the Royal family.

That experience made the Prince all the more determined to protect future girlfriends from too much public exposure until they were ready to cope with it, and Miss Bonas is said to have been the driving force behind their decision to appear in public together.

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