SARAH VINE: What Harry could learn from his ‘older woman’ Sasha – who shows no trace of victimhood
The passage in Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, where he describes losing his virginity ‘in an inglorious episode with an older woman’ is itself one of the more inglorious passages in the book. ‘She liked horses, quite a lot, and treated me not unlike a young stallion,’ he wrote. ‘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.’
It was a crude, thoughtless and totally unnecessary detail that unleashed a wave of salacious speculation as to the identity of the woman in question and proved that whatever else he may be, Harry is no gentleman.
Nor, it turns out, was he an especially considerate lover. As digger driver Sasha Walpole, now 40, reveals in her exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday today: ‘To tell the truth, he didn’t make sure I was happy. He was young. It’s not until you are older you understand that stuff. It really was just a moment of passion.’
It’s the one faint dig in an interview that is otherwise unfailingly generous about the Prince. Not in a fawning, bowing and scraping sort of way, just in the sense that Sasha Walpole – now married and a mother of two – comes across as a thoroughly decent woman, simply someone who has been put in an impossible position and who has decided, for the sake of her own sanity and everyone else’s, to speak out.
She was not the one who started all this, it was Harry – and he did so, characteristically, without the slightest consideration for how it might affect her existence. Bad enough that he would betray someone like the Princess of Wales, but she has a degree of protection against his attacks. Sasha, by contrast, was totally exposed.
The passage in Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, where he describes losing his virginity ‘in an inglorious episode with an older woman’ is itself one of the more inglorious passages in the book
He may not have directly named her, but enough people knew who she was for her identity to inevitably be revealed.
She’s not rich, famous or posh, as many speculated. She’s the daughter of a cleaner and a groundsman who left school at 15 and got a job as a groom at Highgrove, where she first met the Prince.
She doesn’t, like Harry, have access to security and money and status to insulate her and her family from the unwanted attentions of public and press. No £1,000-an-hour legal muscle for her, no pet journalists to rally the troops on Twitter.
You might have thought he would have at least done her the courtesy of alerting her to his intentions. But no. She found out in a WhatsApp message from a friend. In typical Harry style, he apparently did not give a second thought to the chaos this particular ‘truth grenade’ of his might cause, to the unwanted exposure it might bring. Her feelings in all this were simply irrelevant to him. Talk about princely entitlement, talk about droit du seigneur. What an absolute cad.
What’s extraordinary, then, in the circumstances is how well she comes across, and how generous she is towards him. Anyone else might have been justifiably bitter or angry. Certainly, if she’d had anything like Harry’s – or Meghan’s – mindset, she would have cast herself as a victim.
But Sasha is cut from a different cloth. She’s refreshingly sanguine about the whole thing, self-deprecating and kind about their encounter, and about their friendship in general. She comes across as a thoroughly good egg, a straightforward, down-to-earth woman with her head firmly screwed on.
Frankly, Harry was lucky to know her. And the fact that he chose to repay her friendship and loyalty by casually sharing intimate details of her sex life in such a crass way just goes to show: actions, not titles, determine a person’s class.
And this lady is twice the royal that Harry could ever be.
Digger driver Sasha Walpole, now 40, reveals in her exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday that having sex with Harry ‘was really was just a moment of passion’
Sasha Walpole, was the first person to have sex with Prince Harry in a field near to a pub
It’s also a reminder of the kind of life that Harry once had, and could still have had he continued to surround himself with real people like Sasha – and, later on, his fellow squaddies, whom he also betrayed shamefully in his book by revealing details of how many enemy operatives he killed in Afghanistan – instead of allowing himself to be seduced by Hollywood guff and psychobabble.
Harry never seems to tire of telling the world how much he values authenticity and honesty. Yet he chooses to live a life of artifice, where everything, from the pictures he releases to the interviews he gives, is tightly controlled.
All those good friends he had, many of whom were real people with ordinary, grounded lives like Sasha – people who might have told him when he was behaving like a prat – have been cast aside in favour of… what? Courteney Cox and a talking bin? James Corden, the kind of man who’s famous for being rude to waiters?
And as to all that stuff about Prince Charles being a terrible, cold father, how many fathers provide their son with their own private nightclub in the basement of their home, kitted out with Persian rugs and red Moroccan sofas, an electric dartboard and copious amounts of alcohol?
It sounds like Harry had a pretty special time as a teenager, surrounded by good friends, fun and laughter, dancing under the discreet but watchful eye of his protection officers.
As Sasha says, ‘He was outgoing, funny, the absolute life and soul. Just a normal lad, cheeky, one of us. You would never have known there was anything different about him, that he was a prince.’
Where did it all go so wrong?
Of course, none of us is quite the same as they were 20 years ago, and people change and grow up, as they should.
Still, I can’t help feeling that if Harry had stuck more by his old friends, and chosen his new ones more wisely, he might not be quite the angry, bitter and lonely man he is today.
Still, it is what it is, I guess. His loss, not theirs.
● Unsurprisingly, Welsh rugby fans ignored the directive to refrain from singing Tom Jones’s hit Delilah at yesterday’s game. According to the Welsh Rugby Union, the song ‘glorifies domestic violence’ by telling the story of a jealous man who stabs his former lover. By that criterion you would have to ban pretty much every movie, book, play, TV show or opera ever written. Rugby fans are a rowdy lot, but I think even they can tell the difference between a catchy tune and real life.
● My local (Labour) council has painted various rainbow crossings on the high street, trumpeting its commitment to LGBTQ etc values. Forget the potholes in the surrounding roads, or the rampant tree roots that turn pavements into death traps, or the constant fly-tippers whose detritus attracts vermin. Or, indeed, that other kind of vermin, who roam around at night robbing residents at knifepoint. None of that matters because, you know, rainbows. What unutterable tripe.
Brooke Shields (pictured) is the focus of a new documentary that lifts the lid on an industry that saw her playing a child prostitute, and details her experience of rape
● Brooke Shields, above, is the latest star to submit to the lens of documentary director Lana Wilson, who made Miss Americana about Taylor Swift. In Pretty Baby she lifts the lid on an industry that saw her playing a child prostitute, and details her experience of rape. It’s not a million miles from the story of Pamela Anderson, also featured in a documentary currently on Netflix. Both women were ruthlessly sexualised and exploited for the profit of others, then slut-shamed when it got too much. I haven’t seen the Shields programme yet, but the Anderson one was an eye-opener. I don’t always agree with everything the #MeToo movement stands for, but it’s heartbreaking to see the damage, and how Hollywood treats beautiful young women with such cruelty and contempt.
● Shamima Begum poses for the front cover of a glossy supplement with a rueful smile. Who’s worse: a girl who ran away to join ISIS, or the editors who glorify her in this way? I’m afraid she’s got a long way to go before I’ll believe her regret is genuine and not just a ploy to return to the UK so her agent can get her on I’m A Celebrity.
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