‘I kept our secret for 21 years… why couldn’t Harry warn me he was about to tell the world?’: Sasha Walpole says she almost fell off her sofa when her teenage romp with the prince became headline news – after finding out via a friend on WhatsApp
- The 40-year-old mother-of-two was watching television when she found out
- She feared that there were enough clues in his book for people to identify her
- Read: How Prince Harry and stable girl Sasha Walpole’s friendship blossomed
Prince Harry did not do Sasha Walpole the courtesy of telling her he was revealing their long-ago sexual liaison in his memoir Spare, she reveals today. The 40-year-old married mother-of-two was watching television when she found out via a WhatsApp message from a friend. She was so startled she almost fell off her sofa.
She feared there were enough clues in the book for people to identify her as the woman who’d taken Harry’s virginity – and that she would soon be ‘outed’ around the world.
‘I kept this a secret for 21 years. I did it because Harry was a friend, regardless of whether he’s a Prince or not. I didn’t invite any of this attention, but I know the hunt would have kept going until people found me. I don’t understand why he went into such detail. He could have said he lost his virginity and left it at that. But he described how it happened – in a field behind a pub.
‘That’s fine if you’re not the other person involved. But if you’re me, then you suddenly feel as if your world is getting a little bit smaller.’
She felt that the Prince, who has made his right to privacy a crusade in his new, post-Royal life in Montecito, California, with wife Meghan, had intruded on hers.
Sasha Walpole, who is now a digger driver, has revealed that she was the one that had sex first with Prince Harry in a field
Sasha and Prince Harry pictured as youngsters. Left to right: Emma Lippiatt, Sasha Walpole (nee Alvis), Prince Harry and Lizzie Ward at The Beaufort Polo Club, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire
His revelation of their teenage sex came after he accepted a reported £17 million advance for his book from publisher Penguin Random House. Spare became the fastest-selling non-fiction book in the UK since records began in 1998, and sold 3.2 million copies worldwide in the first week of publication. It is expected to become one of the bestselling memoirs of all time.
She says: ‘It is his story, and he’s entitled to write what he wants. He didn’t name me but people who were there that night, or simply part of that social circle, would be able to work out it was me.
‘Possibly, Harry could have thought about that before publishing. He could have found me if he had tried.’
Harry has been dedicated to maintaining his privacy and that of Meghan and their children, Archie, three, and Lilibet, one, since marriage and Megxit. But even before then, in an interview he gave to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in 2016 about the Invictus Games, he stated that ‘everyone has a right to privacy,’ and that the interest in his life verged on the ‘unnecessary’.
Sasha is too loyal to be angry, or to accuse him of hypocrisy, but she is filled with disbelief that her ordinary domestic life has been upended for the sake of four lines in his memoir.
In Spare, Harry, a self-declared feminist, recalls his sexual encounter with Sasha in unchivalrous terms
Sasha said: ‘I kept this a secret for 21 years. I did it because Harry was a friend, regardless of whether he’s a Prince or not’. Pictured: Sasha on her digger
Picture of the Miss Piggy Toy Harry bought for Sasha for her birthday
‘Being exposed in a book is surreal. I’m here in my home in Wiltshire with my husband Ian and my kids and – 21 years later – this.’
She was also justifiably scared of the real-life consequences.
‘Panic cut in. I live in a quiet area and it got to the stage when a strange car drove by I’d think, “Is this it?” I worried that I’d wake up one morning and find a barrage of cameras outside my house.’
As social media messages flooded in from friends who’d either guessed or who already knew, Sasha felt she had to act.
Like the Prince 5,000 miles away on the West Coast of America, she has small children to protect. And, having had a taste of media attention once before when she was pictured with Harry at a polo match in 2001, she knew how intrusive it could be.
‘I wanted to take control of the situation before it took control of me, which is why I am revealing that, yes, I am the woman who took Harry’s virginity.
‘I would never have spoken out if Harry hadn’t. I’m not that sort of person. If I was going to talk about it, I could have done so a long time ago. He has brought it to my door by writing about it.’
In Spare, Harry, a self-declared feminist, recalls his sexual encounter with Sasha in unchivalrous terms. He says: ‘Inglorious episode, with an older woman. She liked horses, quite a lot, and treated me not unlike a young stallion. Quick ride, after which she’d smacked my rump and sent me off to graze. Among the many things about it that were wrong: It happened in a grassy field behind a busy pub.’
Sasha (left) and Harry (right) larking about at a charity night in The Vine Tree pub
Sasha added: ‘I didn’t invite any of this attention, but I know the hunt would have kept going until people found me’
READ MORE: How teen Prince Harry and stable girl Sasha Walpole’s friendship blossomed… on wild nights at the Rattlebone Inn and Harry and Wills’ Highgrove man cave Prince Harry and Sasha Walpole were fast friend
It was this Jilly Cooper-style description of alfresco sex and the tantalising reference to an older woman that ignited global speculation about the identity of his first lover.
Actress and model Liz Hurley denied it was her, as did the chief executive of Cotswold Airport Suzannah Harvey, 44, a former model. So too did interior designer Catherine Ommanney, 51, who had a fling with Harry when he was 21.
There were also rumours about polo coach and vet Emma Tomlinson, 48, whose family were neighbours and close friends of King Charles at his Highgrove estate.
Fortunately Sasha didn’t mind the ‘horsey’ metaphor, choosing to believe Harry intended it to be light-hearted. What puzzled her was being categorised as an older woman.
‘Maybe he did think I was older. When you’re 16 and somebody is 19, you probably are seen that way. Or perhaps he was trying to throw people off the scent.’
She was a little older – 18 about to turn 19 the next day – with Harry then 16, soon to be 17 on the night of their tryst, July 21, 2001.
She told her mother Lyn, now 65, and her big sister Jodie Mayhead, 42, an accountant, that she’d had sex with Harry at the time. Ian, 44, also knew she had slept with the Royal since she had confided in him when their relationship became serious.
Sasha told her mother Lyn, now 65, and her big sister Jodie Mayhead, 42, an accountant, that she’d had sex with Harry at the time. Pictured: Dressed ready for a Polo ball
Harry has been dedicated to maintaining his privacy and that of Meghan and their children, Archie (pictured with parents), three, and Lilibet, one
Spare became the fastest selling non-fiction book in the UK since records began in 1998, and sold 3.2million copies worldwide in the first week of publication
However, the global guessing game over the name of Harry’s mystery lover meant Sasha has had to share details of her teenage sex life with her father Tony, 71.
‘Dad wouldn’t have cared if I had slept with a prince or a frog as long as I was safe and happy,’ she says, ‘but as a father, he didn’t really want to know.
‘It’s not the kind of thing you want to talk about, even when you are as close as we are. Fortunately he took it as well as my husband, who is very laid back about it.’
When Sasha was first alerted to the revelations in Harry’s book, she was relaxing at home watching fantasy series Willow on Disney+.
It was 9.55pm on Thursday, January 5 – the day the book accidentally went on sale in Spain, five days before its intended publication date. The salacious anecdote about him losing his virginity had immediately grabbed the headlines.
A friend sent Sasha a screenshot of a newspaper story from an Instagram site referring to the ‘older woman’ and the ‘young stallion’. She replied with one word: ‘F***.’
More messages pinged in. Her old friend Bryony, who’d been with her on the night in question and given Harry’s bodyguard a lift when he was searching for the missing Prince, sent a text teasing her about the older woman reference – a series of grey-haired old- lady emojis.
Sasha pointed out it was the ‘wrong pub!’ as online speculation grew that the encounter had taken place at the Rattlebone Inn in Sherston (left), instead of The Vine Tree in Norton (right), both Wiltshire villages
Aerial pictures of the Vine tree pub showing the surrounding fields where Sasha says the pair had sex
Sasha replied: ‘It’s in his book apparently…..’ and pointed out ‘wrong pub!’ as online speculation grew that the encounter had taken place at the Rattlebone Inn in Sherston, instead of The Vine Tree in Norton, both Wiltshire villages.
As the story grew on January 6, she continued to receive messages, some from people with whom she was no longer in touch.
Sister Jodie was also being contacted about Spare, as were their parents.
Jodie said: ‘Sasha and Harry were all just in one massive social circle so it wasn’t rocket science to work it out that they’d had sex that night. Even though they thought they had been discreet, they hadn’t.’
Sasha was so alarmed that she approached a solicitor for legal advice.
Actress and model Liz Hurley (left) denied it was her as did Catherine Ommanney (right), who had a fling with Harry when he was 21
Chief executive of Cotswold Airport and former model Suzannah Harvey (pictured right with 17-year-old Prince Harry), 44, also denied it was her
‘At first I thought I could hide and that it would blow over. But as the names of different women, some of whom I know, became public I realised that to make the speculation stop, I needed to tell the truth.
‘At least now I can tell my story, in my words, with the correct context and detail, and without panicking. I can stop looking over my shoulder.’
She doesn’t even have a copy of Spare herself, she admits, adding: ‘I don’t know how I feel about buying it. If I got one it would be for the “nosy” factor to see what was actually maybe going on in his head at the time. That would be really intriguing.’
Jodie concludes: ‘Sasha is the most genuine, kindest, loyal person you’ll ever meet. Hand on heart. I know she would have carried this secret with her if it hadn’t come out in Harry’s book.’
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