Is Cressida breaking her Prince's heart Smitten Harry wrote to her endlessly from the desert, but the blue-blooded butterfly refuses to be pinned downThe elfin dance student has been acting aloof since Harry's returnPrince has hoped they could reignite romance that blossomed in May

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Cheers! Harry keeps it together as he leaves the bash, surrounded by security, while Cressida Bonas left the event at 4.15am

Playing it cool: The blonde 23-year-old has remained elusive since the Prince's return from Afghanistan

As one of Harry’s circle revealed: ‘The rallying round was at times campaign-like. Cress was even introduced to Prince William once. To say that she felt caught off-guard on that occasion would be a fair assessment. She was desperately nervous about meeting Harry’s older brother.’

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New friends: Harry's circle have worked strenuously to welcome Cressida into the group in his absence

Hers is one of the most beautiful, glamorous and fun-loving of aristocratic families. Cressida is a younger image of her mother, who has divorced four times and rules her brood from her Chelsea home. Cressida’s siblings, five in all, are all blessed with blonde good looks.

After her parents divorced when she was five, her early years were spent between the pretty National Trust pile Hinton Ampner in Hampshire and the Norfolk home of her father, businessman Jeffrey Bonas. In her teens, she spent three years at the Royal Ballet School, then a spell at Bath’s Prior Park College on a sports scholarship.

A Leeds university graduate like Harry’s former flame Chelsy Davy, Cressida is disdainful of the South-West London haunts Harry favours. She likens the Chelsea nightclub scene so beloved of the Middleton clan (it was there that Kate cemented her relationship with William) as ‘poncy’ and prefers festivals and gigs where she and her friends can dance up a frenzy and let their hair down. The sort of venues where cliques cluster around tables topped with ice buckets of Grey Goose vodka are abhorred by Cressida’s crew, culled from her university and dance days and her time at Stowe, the 10,000-a-term public school where she was educated.

As one close friend disclosed: ‘She hangs out with her brothers and sisters. They are extremely close. She and her friends spend their time going to the Sadler’s Wells dance theatre. Commuting means she gets home late to West London from her dance studies at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich, so she rarely goes out midweek. At weekends, she will go partying or travel to Norfolk to see her dad.’

When Cressida does spend a weekend in London, she will go anywhere she can dance. Favoured haunts include The Supper Club, a multi-storey concrete rabbit-warren in West London’s Ladbroke Grove, and The Loft, a warehouse conversion which once played host to Jade Jagger’s Ibiza-inspired club nights, a stone’s throw from Wormwood Scrubs prison.

Pedigree: Miss Bonas, left, with mother, sister Isabella and Isabella's father

Pedigree: Miss Bonas, left, with mother Lady Mary Gaye, sister Isabella and Isabella's father

Harry and Cressida’s relationship truly blossomed over their blissful summer together. He was riding high after the success of his tour of Jamaica and told friends privately he had never felt so relaxed about his celebrity. With the Diamond Jubilee in full swing, the public perception of the Royals was at an all-time high and Harry was getting away with a degree of relative normality – he had Facebook and Twitter accounts which he used to update friends about his activities, without leaks appearing in the press.

He and Cressida were invited as a couple to Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the Caribbean to celebrate Sam Branson’s birthday. And Harry even had a blowout in Vegas, away from Cressida, planned. The Duke of Cambridge may well have envied the summer his kid brother was enjoying and Cressida, by all accounts, felt she had found a Prince with whom life wouldn’t be so restricted after all.

When reality hit home, it happened in Vegas. Cressida was said to have reeled at the ferocity of the storm that surrounded Harry’s naked antics in a game of strip billiards. Cool as ever, she was not fazed by the nudity nor the girls. What got to her was the sudden realisation of just how much their relationship was under the spotlight.

So by the time Harry set off for Afghanistan, things were very much up in the air between them. Cressida was happy to ‘play things by ear’ until his return, while Harry was keen to do as much as he could to keep her interested. He sent her ‘blueys’ (letters penned on Army-issue blue paper) and he called her more frequently than he called his own father, according to reports. It was a romantic time for them both and, despite the distance, Harry spent a lot of time soul-searching.

But now, Harry has returned to find Cressida more unsure than ever about her future. Approaching her 24th birthday on February 18, she, unlike Harry, is under no time-pressure to make important life decisions. She is said to be considering moving abroad when she finishes studying.

Another close friend added: ‘If Cressida didn’t eventually work somewhere in theatre, then she would be involved with skiing in some way. But Cressida’s closest friends don’t even know what she’s doing at school or what she wants to do. If all else fails, perhaps she will continue to go to school. She is passionate about what she’s learning.’

Meanwhile, Harry is aware he is now approaching his 30s. When he rather soulfully remarked, on his return from Afghanistan, that finding a lifelong partner was a difficult business, one can only speculate that it was of the enigmatic Cressida that he was thinking. And very much hoping that she might be the woman who could fulfil that role.