It was a passionate, tipsy – and very probably ill-advised – encounter between two friends who snuck out of a pub for a crafty Marlboro Light and ended up clambering over a fence to make love in a field, shielded from sight by a dense summer hedgerow.
This is how Prince Harry lost his virginity in July 2001 – an escapade the world would have remained ignorant about had he not revealed some of the intimate details in his explosive memoir, Spare.
The story became one of the most talked-about passages in the bestseller, triggering a global guessing game as to who the unnamed ‘older woman’ who treated him ‘not unlike a young stallion’ might be.
Now, that woman has come forward to share her version of what the Duke of Sussex, 38, memorably called an ‘inglorious episode’. She is Sasha Walpole, 40, who had known the Prince since her days as a groom at the future King Charles’ Gloucestershire estate, Highgrove.
At just over two years the Prince’s senior, she is much younger than most of the women whose names were suggested in the frenzy of speculation about her identity.
Mother-of-two Sasha Walpole (pictured with her digger) claims Harry kissed her after asking her if she wanted to go outside for a cigarette during her 19th birthday party back in 2001
Sasha Walpole (second from left) and Harry and friends lark about at the Beaufort Polo Club near Tetbury in Gloucestershire back in 2001
When they were young: Prince Harry and Sasha Walpole inside The Vine Tree Pub where they shared a kiss before getting more intimate in a nearby field
Today Sasha reveals it was Harry who made the first move, leading to their ‘spontaneous and sparky’ sex in a field behind The Vine Tree pub in the Wiltshire village of Norton. And, in a touch of farce, that his bodyguard was out hunting for him in a borrowed Ford Fiesta at the time.
Sasha, now a mother of two who drives diggers for a living, had invited Harry, then a 16-year-old Eton schoolboy – not 17 as suggested in Spare – to the pub to celebrate her 19th birthday.
The pair were such close friends that Harry had brought her a stuffed Miss Piggy and a comedy birthday card with a joke about a flatulent whale on the front. He added to that with a tray of ten shots – five each – which saw the pair very drunk by closing time.
As last orders were called, the young prince asked her: ‘Should we go for a smoke?’ and they crept into an adjacent field to have a cigarette out of sight of his security detail.
‘He started to kiss me,’ she remembers. ‘It was passionate, intense. We both knew. It went from a kiss on to the floor pretty quickly.
‘It was instant, fiery, wham bam, between two friends. It was sparky because we shouldn’t have been doing it. He wasn’t ‘Prince Harry’ to me, this was Harry, my friend, and the situation had got a little bit out of control. It felt naughty, I suppose, in the sense that it shouldn’t be happening.
‘We didn’t set out to do it – it wasn’t premeditated and I didn’t know he was a virgin. There were no virgin vibes – he seemed to know what he was doing. It was quick, wild, exciting. We were both drunk. It wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t.’
Sasha had been dressed for her birthday party in tight black jeans from high street store New Look with a matching black top and a patterned black belt slung low across her hips. As Harry took off her jeans, the belt came loose and she had to return to the field the next day to hunt for it. Harry, in a pink shirt, jeans and boxer shorts, managed to stay mostly clothed.
Digger driver Sasha Walpole (pictured), 40, reveals she is the mystery horse-lover who had ‘passionate’ five-minute sex session with the duke in pub field
Sasha (left) is pictured horsing around with Prince Harry and Emma Lippiatt at the Beaufort Polo Club in Gloucestershire in 2001 – the same year they became intimate following a night out at a pub
The Vine Tree Pub, Norton, Wiltshire where Prince Harry had sex with Sasha Walpole in a field, which the Duke sensationally revealed in his bombshell memoir Spare
Sasha Walpole (pictured with her horse) revealed to the Mail on Sunday how Harry made the first move
Sasha Walpole (pictured with the digger she operates) said her night with Harry back in 2001 was ‘intense, passionate and sparky’ because ‘we shouldn’t have been doing it’
The lovers were cushioned by the ankle-length grass in the field and shielded from the view of drinkers in the pub’s beer garden by a dense summer hedgerow. It was pitch dark, around 11pm and warm.
In Spare, Harry writes that it was ‘a quick ride, after which she’d smacked my rump and sent me off to graze’. Today his description of it being ‘inglorious’ makes Sasha laugh. ‘I don’t mind him saying that because it isn’t really very glorious, is it? We were drunk and having sex in a field.’
And she clearly remembers giving Harry a one-handed smack on the bottom as their five-minute sex session came to a hurried close.
‘It’s his sense of humour. [We were part of] a massive horse scene and the slap happened in a horsey context, the book is a funny interpretation of that. His description is accurate – the real shock when I saw what he’d written was how true it was. That’s what took me back the most. I’m not offended.
‘Afterwards I did grab his bum and give him a slap. I gave him a little squeeze as well. He had a peachy bum. I don’t know about the stallion thing; I think that was more to do with the fact that I worked with horses.
‘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.’
The sound of their friends spilling out into the pub car park brought the pair swiftly back to reality and they panicked at the idea of being spotted together. They also realised that when Harry had failed to appear at closing time, his security detail would have gone in search of him. They separated to return to The Vine Tree in the hope of keeping their encounter secret.
Sasha says: ‘Afterwards there was the realisation, ‘S***! What are we doing? Where do we go from here?’ I don’t remember us kissing, it was just ‘Okaaaaayy!’
‘We got up, put our clothes back on and agreed we had to go in separate directions back to the pub which, in hindsight, probably made it more obvious. If we’d only gone for a cheeky cigarette, we would have returned together. We had only been gone about 15 minutes in total – but it was long enough for his security to start worrying.
‘I went back over the fence into the beer garden. My friends saw me and started laughing. I didn’t have my belt on and it’s kind of obvious when you come back a bit dishevelled from a field.
A younger Sasha Walpole dressed up for a Polo ball
Aerial photo shows The Vine Tree pub and adjacent field where Harry and Sasha had sex back in 2001
Sasha Walpole holds up a copy of Prince Harry’s memoir Spare, which sensationally revealed their romp in a field some 21 years ago
The Miss Piggy Toy Harry bought for Sasha for her birthday. The Duke bought it at Thorpe park and gave it to her at her party with a card
‘My friend Bryony had ended up in her 1.1-litre blue Fiesta with one of the back-up security guards on a Harry hunt. They found him down the road. He was hiding in a red telephone box. He might have phoned his security from there, I don’t know, the mobile signal wasn’t always dependable – it still isn’t.’
Bryony drove Sasha home to the Gloucestershire village of Acton Turville. She woke with a hangover and a sense of awkwardness.
‘I wasn’t thinking, ‘I have had sex with Prince Harry,’ it was, ‘Oh God, I’ve just slept with Harry.’
‘It is a bit cringey if you have slept with a friend. You’ve overstepped a line. Broken the Friend Code.
‘The next morning Bryony took me back to get my belt and my car. We had a giggle about it. Bryony said, ‘What the hell happened?’ and I said, ‘Um, I don’t really know!’
‘It was pretty easy to find the spot – because my belt was there!’
Sadly the encounter marked the end of Sasha’s friendship with Harry. From being regular drinking partners, the pair never texted, spoke or saw each other again.
Sasha was not hurt. She thinks that summer was the end of a chapter in both of their lives – she would soon start socialising in another area with a group of friends whose passion was motorsport, not horses, and meet Ian, the man who would become her husband. Now she has a job excavating the footings for patios and driveways – a world away from the life Harry has in his California mansion
Sasha Walpole, who is now a digger driver, has revealed that she was the one that had sex first with Prince Harry in a field
Sasha and Prince Harry pictured as youngsters. Left to right: Emma Lippiatt, Sasha Walpole (nee Alvis), Prince Harry and Lizzie Ward at The Beaufort Polo Club, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire
‘Your friendship circles change, your circumstances change. That’s what happens when you are young: you grow up,’ she says. At the time of their encounter, the Prince was still devastated by the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, four years earlier – a trauma which would send his life spiralling into chaos in his 20s. He was also struggling to emerge from William’s shadow at Eton.
Sasha says generously: ‘There was a lot going on with Harry’s life that I was not aware of. I never thought it would turn into a relationship – there’d been nothing before so there wasn’t going to be anything after. It was a pure drunken moment. We drifted apart. I didn’t mind. No regrets.
‘Do I wish I had texted him? No, I don’t think there was anything to be gained from that.’
Yet in the two-and-a-half years before that night, Sasha and the young Royal had become great friends, and it was Harry who cheered her up when her party on July 21, 2001, the day before her actual birthday, turned sour.
Sasha had been jilted a month or so earlier by her long-term boyfriend Skip, yard manager of the local Beaufort Polo Club. ‘He was my first proper true love, I was heartbroken,’ she says. ‘It was a serious relationship but it got messy.’
Nonetheless, Skip was still invited to her birthday drinks and she was delighted when he dropped in. But, within an hour, his new girlfriend Heidi also arrived.
‘I am a placid person,’ says Sasha. ‘I don’t do big scenes. I don’t do attention grabbing. I was happy Skip was there but then Heidi appeared – and it was my birthday! My face would have shown how I was feeling. Harry knew I was upset.
‘I am not a huggy person so he didn’t give me a hug. Instead, he turned up with a tray of shots. He said, ‘Happy birthday – let’s do some drinks.’
Spare became the fastest selling non-fiction book in the UK since records began in 1998, and sold 3.2million copies worldwide in the first week of publication
‘It was more extreme than anything he would usually do – he was clearly thinking, ‘This is crap, let’s cheer Sasha up.’ It was his way of saying, ‘You’re going to be fine, let’s lift the mood.’ ‘ There were about five shots each, including a tequila, a Baileys and a sambuca on a black tray. ‘We downed them between us. Shot by shot. This was halfway through the night, about nine o’clock-ish, I reckon.
‘Harry had been at a theme park that day with a couple of our mates. He’d won a big Miss Piggy dressed in a tropical outfit, and when he got to the party he gave it to me together with a card.’
Harry had even stuffed Miss Piggy’s bra with paper tissues for added comedy value, while the card carried ‘a joke about a whale fart, a bubble rising up under a boat. It was really funny’.
In it, he wrote: ‘Darlin’ Sash, Have a very happy birthday and don’t get too p***ed. Luckily I’ll be there to keep an eye on you, loads of love Baz, PS: Thanks for everything.’
Baz was a nickname Harry used, as he confirms in Spare, and Sasha said: ‘He never signed his real name – even on texts it would be H.
‘I don’t remember a time when I was particularly there for him, that was just friends talk, but it was a nice thing to write.
‘That night we chatted to other people but we were together on and off. Harry wasn’t being flirty. He just knew my birthday had gone downhill after Heidi arrived. He’d been asking me, ‘Sasha? You all right?’ throughout the evening.’
This was the innocent background to Harry’s suggestion the pair went outside to have a cigarette. The context was one of a friendship which, until that night, had been purely platonic.
Harry’s account sparked a flurry of speculation about who the mystery ‘older woman’ could be, with even actress Liz Hurley, now 57, feeling compelled to deny she’d been the one who took his virginity. But Sasha, of course, instantly knew it was her – as did her friends who sent her messages the day the book was published.
‘I realised, thinking about it the next day, that he had been a virgin,’ she says wryly. ‘I hadn’t known him to have slept with anyone and, obviously, I’d been hanging around with him for a few years. At the time, I just didn’t think it was a ‘thing’.’
She was unconcerned about becoming pregnant from the encounter because she was still on the Pill following the end of her relationship with Skip. However, Harry did not use a condom or discuss protection with her.
She confided in her mother, a few close friends and, years later, her husband, considering it a youthful and happy rite of passage. It’s only because of Spare she’s had to return to the moment.
‘It doesn’t feel odd to think I once slept with a Prince in a field,’ she laughs. ‘After all, I’ve known what I did for the past 21 years.’
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