NOT long before Prince Harry lost his virginity to a horse-loving girl in a field behind a pub, there was a Gwyneth Paltrow film called Sliding Doors.
“Have you ever wondered what might have been?” demanded the trailer.
5Sasha Walpole has come forward as the woman who Prince Harry lost his virginity toCredit: Dan Charity5Harry with friends Emma Lippiatt, left, Sasha, and Lizzie Ward on car roof at polo match in 2001Credit: Getty5Harry is now living a very different life with wife Meghan in CaliforniaCredit: SplashGwyneth was seen catching her train and coming home to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman.
Then, in an alternative reality where she misses her train and arrives home ten minutes later, finds him with his pants on and lover gone.
We live in a universe of infinite possibilities, Gwyneth’s film suggested.
On random twists of fate, our lives turn.
And in Sasha Walpole’s telling of Harry’s lost virginity — forced on her after the mouthy ginger love machine brazenly kissed and told about their five minute mating in his autobiography Spare — you can’t help wondering what might have been for Prince Harry.
In one life you are drinking shots with an older girl who really likes horses.
And in another you are drinking herbal tea with a wife who likes showing her organic chickens to Oprah Winfrey.
In one life you are knocking back shots in a Wiltshire country boozer.
And in another you are knocking your family and country in a Californian mansion.
In one life you are the Prince Harry we knew and loved.
And in another you are woke, whining, poor-little-me of Montecito, California.
“A woman is about to choose between a man she has always loved and a man she just met,” said the Sliding Doors trailer.
And in the honest, touching revelations of Sasha Walpole, we are offered a tantalising glimpse of the destiny that Harry might have had if he had made some different choices.
We should be grateful to Sasha.
Today a global spotlight has been trained upon her by a prince who spewed his truth about his journey without sparing a thought for others.
Sasha, 40, has been talked about as the “older woman” of Spare.
But one day shy of her 19th birthday, she was hardly The Graduate’s Mrs Robinson.
But her recollections of that five-minute love affair resonate with everything that Harry has turned his back on.
Never has a romp in a meadow been recalled with such sweetness and generosity!
The teenage prince and the slightly older teenage groom, who had just had her heart broken by her first boyfriend, were friends.
Sasha tells a tale of shots, Marlboro Light-flavoured kisses and passion that had no regrets.
As Harry sits brooding in his mansion, spewing his endless fountain of bile and resentment, bitterly estranged from his family and the country that loved him, here is a glimpse of Harry Windsor’s own Sliding Doors.
Would things have been different if Harry had kept getting his bottom slapped by girls who liked horses?
Of course they would!
The road that Harry has taken — the California husband hanging out in a chicken coop with Oprah Winfrey — feels like a catastrophically wrong turn.
In a universe of infinite possibilities, there is a turning that Harry did not take.
It would have led him to a different life than the one he lives today among the progressive billionaires of the US.
Harry was never one of the lads. Harry was never ordinary.
He was never just a good bloke. Not even in his Army years.
Not really, because growing up in the bosom of the British Royal Family bestows a life of unimaginable privilege, luxury and entitlement.
Harry has been cossetted and protected and fawned over for every second of his life.
Even when he was losing his virginity, Harry’s royal security were anxiously looking for him in a blue Ford Fiesta.
Yet the most beloved members of the Royal Family somehow manage to keep at least one foot firmly planted in the real world.
Prince William and Kate do it. Prince Andrew doesn’t do it.
Mike and Zara Tindall do it, even though they share their back garden with Zara’s mum, Princess Anne.
And our Queen did it, despite 70 years on the throne.
When Her Majesty addressed the nation at the height of the pandemic, she was unquestionably one of us.
A hereditary monarchy works because of this semblance of regal normality.
The monarchy would not work — and we would have become a republic years ago — if the Royal Family was not ultimately, undeniably human.
Harry seems human in Sasha Walpole’s revelations.
Harry seems so horribly American these days, forever puking his truth to the superstar sycophants who hang on his every word.
This son and brother of kings was never going to be ordinary. Harry will never wake up in the night worrying about how he is going to pay his bills.
He was always going to take his unimaginable privilege for granted.
But he did not have to end up as the woke, whining sourpuss that he is today.
He went through the wrong sliding door when he met his future missus.
For all his special pleading about his mental health, he seems to never reflect on what his outpourings, be it in Spare or to admirers like Oprah and James Corden, have on the mental wellbeing of others.
Did he think about what writing in detail about losing his virginity would do to the life of Sasha Walpole, even if she was not named?
Did he ever consider, for even one second, how her children may feel, or her parents, or her husband if it all came out?
This is what those of us who once held Harry in high regard find difficult to take now.
He doesn’t seem to give a damn about anyone apart from himself.
Sasha Walpole has treated Harry with the respect that he failed to show to her.
She has behaved with decency.
There is no doubt that she would have carried the story of Harry’s virginity to the grave if she had been allowed to do so.
By writing about their brief yet momentous bonk, Harry has encouraged global speculation about Sasha’s identity.
If he had kept his cakehole shut, nobody need ever have known.
Hypocrite Harry says “everyone has the right to privacy”, unless he chooses to invade it, presumably.
But former knicker factory worker Sasha, a driver of one- and three-tonne diggers has behaved with honour.
And that is the world Harry has turned his back on for ever.
That is the road not taken.
Yes, the world of horses and pubs and kisses that taste of Marlboro Lights.
But there is something else Harry gave up when he threw in his lot with the woke billionaires of America.
What about honour, decency and discretion?
What about the instinct to protect those you care about it?
What about common humanity?
Who knows where he goes from here.
The lucrative, self-pitying road Harry has chosen looks suspiciously like a dead end.
Is he really going to spend the rest of his life bad-mouthing the Royal Family, the UK and the wicked British press?
Is that all he has to look forward to?
He was never going to end up married to Sasha but there is an entire way of life, and an entire world, he turned his back on when he became the Prince of Montecito.
It was fun. It was a bit of a laugh. And it was good.
Sasha’s affectionate, touching revelations read like a postcard from a lost world, a glimpse of fading photograph from the road that was never taken. It is too late now.
Harry has to jump to the tune of his American corporate paymasters.
Now he must fill the next 50 years with something approaching meaning. Good luck with all that, Harry!
But Sasha Walpole’s heart- warming story reminds us there was a path not taken.
It led to a life where even a prince can have one foot in the real world.
And if Prince Harry had been smart enough to choose that path, then he would almost certainly be a far happier man today.
5While Sasha was portrayed by Harry as an ‘older woman,’ he was 17 and she had just turned 19Credit: Getty5A young Prince Harry pictured at a polo match in 2001Credit: PA:Press Association
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk