The road to a royal engagement: A look back at Harry's past loves

Prince Harry is officially off the market after announcing his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle, after being linked in the past to several women including a law student, charity worker, rock singer and Real Housewife.

After dedicating a decade in service to the British Army as well as charity work, and stepping up into his royal duties on behalf of the queen, the 33-year-old royal first indicated he was ready to settle down after publicly announcing his relationship with Suits' Markle in July 2016.

The 36-year-old actress was not the first girlfriend who Prince Harry went public with. His longest and most famous previous on-and-off relationship from 2004 to 2011 was with Zimbabwe-born lawyer-turned-jewellery designer Chelsy Davy was very much in the public eye, with the pair unafraid to show their affection during public events including at Wimbledon.

The daughter of a former Miss Rohesia and a millionaire safari businessman, she met first met Harry when was attended Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, before meeting again in Cape Town in 2004.

While Prince Harry labelled his former flame "amazing" it was noted that the 2007 law-graduate was not accustomed to the long separations that came with his military career and the constant media and public scrutiny. She became known as the 'one that got away' after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

The 32-year-old Davy insisted in an interview with The Sunday Timesthat they "will always be good friends," before admitting the difficult nature of that public attention that came with being involved with a royal. "It's not something you get used to," she told the publication. She labelled the scrutiny "crazy and scary and uncomfortable", adding, "I couldn't cope. I was trying to be a normal kid and it was horrible."

A year or so after their breakup and a reported fling with model Florence Brudenell-Bruce, it was reported widely that in 2012 Prince Harry dated actor and dancer Cressida Bonas, who modelled for British fashion labels Burberry and Mulberry at the time, after being introduced by Princess Eugenie in May 2012. A descendant from the Curzon banking dynasty, and daughter of former it-girl Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon, Bonas is also the half-sister of Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe who once dated Prince William.

RH Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas at WE Day at Wembley Arena shortly before they broke up.

RH Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas at WE Day at Wembley Arena shortly before they broke up. Photo: Doug Peters/AP

The pair were labelled a 'well-established' couple after showing affection at her sister's wedding and public events including the cinema, Glastonbury festival and the musical The Book of Mormon according the Sunday Times. The pair split within a few weeks of publicly kissing at a Wembley Arena charity event after two years of dating. It is believed unwanted media attention was a reason for the split.

In an interview with BBC Radio following the romance, Bonas said she felt 'pigeon-holed' because she was dating a royal, something she found 'incredibly frustrating'.

Rumoured dates and flings have circled the Prince, which is what you would expect from an eligible famous bachelor.

Other noted flames include singer Ellie Goulding after they were spotted in a PDA session at a Polo event in May 2016 after singing for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding, TV presenter Caroline Flack who called it off after their "story got out," pop star Mollie King, Norwegian rockstar Camilla Romestrand and TV Presenter Natalie Pinkham. Reportedly our very own Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia dated Prince Harry a few months during 'a break' from Davy in 2009. The pair, who met through mutual friends, were spotted attending a Killers concert, bowling and at Imbruglia's birthday together.

In 2016, Prince Harry revealed in an interview with BBC that he hadn't had many opportunities to "get out there and meet people."

"At the moment, my focus is very much on work. But if someone falls into my life, then that is absolutely fantastic," he said. "If or when I do find a girlfriend, I will do my utmost to ensure we get to the point where we are actually comfortable with each other before the massive invasion into her privacy."

He apparently made these comments around the time he met Markle, while promoting the Toronto Invictus Games in 2016.

Later the palace would release an unprecedented statement asking for the public to respect his girlfriend, Meghan Markle's privacy, the pair were officially spotted during the Invictus event earlier this year, sparking rumours that their engagement was imminent.

This story The road to a royal engagement: A look back at Harry's past loves first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.