'I know who Prince Harry lost his virginity to'
It was one of the more intimate revelations in the Duke of Sussex’s memoir and one that, for many, raised more questions than it answered.
Who was the horse-mad woman who took his virginity in a mystery field during what the Duke himself admitted was a rather “inglorious episode”?
The mystery has now taken a surprising twist after Rupert Everett teased that he knows the identity of the woman in question.
Not only that, the actor also mischievously claimed that the episode did not take place behind a pub, or even in this country.
Everett was interviewed for the Telegraph Magazine on the day the Duke’s memoir, Spare, was published.
The conversation turned to the inevitable and it turned out he had strong views on the whole Sussex saga.
“By the way,” he offered with a twinkle in his eye. “I know who the woman he lost his virginity to is. And it wasn’t behind a pub. And it wasn’t in this country.”
Asked if he was suggesting that the Duke had purposefully tried to cover his tracks, to protect the identity of the woman who was really involved in the tryst, he offered little more than a sly grin.
“I’m just putting it out there that I know,” he added.
A source close to the Duke said: "Amazing that he would know such a personal detail better than Prince Harry himself."
The Duke painted quite a picture of the episode in his book.
He revealed that towards the end of 2001, Mark Dyer - or “Marko”, his aide and mentor - had paid him a visit at Eton.
He took him out for lunch but looked “grim” and the teenage prince - then aged 16 or 17 - feared the worst.
Dyer revealed he had been “asked to find out the truth” and the Duke suspected he was referring to his recent loss of virginity, convinced someone must have spotted him in action.
“Inglorious episode, with an older woman,” he wrote. “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.”
In the event, Dyer had actually wanted to confront the Duke about his alleged drug-taking and the episode in the field did not warrant further mention in the book.
Elsewhere, it was a different matter.
The first older woman identified as a potential suspect was Liz Hurley.
The actress was asked in an interview if she was the woman in question.
“Not me. I’m not guilty,” she replied, adding for clarity: “No. Not me. Absolutely not.”
The incident is alleged to have taken place at the Rattlebone Inn in Sherston, Wilts, where both princes Harry and William were regular visitors.
Suzannah Harvey, 44, a former model, and Catherine Ommanney, 51, an interior designer, both sought to distance themselves from the encounter.
Miss Harvey has previously admitted “passionately kissing” the prince in a muddy field after a Christmas ball in 2001, when she was 23.
But last month, she posted a picture of herself with a packet of Ginger Nuts on Instagram, writing: “The only ones I've ever touched ... believe zero of what you read.”
Miss Ommanney, who dated Harry when she was 34 and he was 21, told The Sun that she hates horses and was “definitely not that girl in the field”.
Meanwhile, Everett revealed that the memoir had altered his perception of the Duke.
“It’s made me change my view,” he said. “I was angry before, and now I just feel very sad – sad for Harry. I felt so sympathetic towards him for years and I still do now.
“Honestly! As someone who has put his foot in it quite a bit, I feel particularly bad for him about the Taliban thing. That changed everything and loses him the one group that still loved him.”
The Duke was widely criticised for revealing that he killed 25 people in his role as an Apache helicopter pilot during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Several senior military figures warned that he had jeopardised his own security and that of others.
The Duke insisted on a US chat show last month that his aim was to give veterans the “space” to be honest and to share their experiences without shame, reducing the number of suicides.
He denied “boasting” about the figure and blamed the media for taking the comment out of context and turning it into “the most dangerous lie that they have told” by elevating his security risk.
Col Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: “His explanation might have been more credible if he’d included it in his book.”