When will Harry get his wedding Bonas?
ANY potential royal bride running the feverish gauntlet of the British tabloids must prepare to have her name mangled.
The late Diana received the label "Shy Di" and Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, was transformed into "Waity Katie" because of the long time she dated Prince William before they were engaged.
Now, Miss Cressida Bonas, the 24-year-old girlfriend of Prince Harry, must endure the same punning wordplay.
To frame its story that Miss Bonas could join the prince for this year's Boxing Day shoot in Sandringham - Queen Elizabeth II's Norfolk estate and traditional Christmas holiday retreat - a Sunday Express headline ran: "Prince Harry is rewarded with a Warm Bonas."
A sales-generating storyline that Prince Harry is about to propose has been kept alive for several months.
"Will Harry make Cressida his princess?" the Daily Mail asked in August (answer: not then). In October, he was reported to be about to propose under the Northern Lights in Iceland (not then, either) and, last month, that she had given up her dream to be a dancer to marry him. (Still to be determined.)
The British press, as is their wont, may have jumped the gun on the happy news.
"I wouldn't be expecting a Christmas engagement, but they are very much in love, really serious about each other and spending a lot of time together," said Ms Sophia Money-Coutts, features editor of the British society magazine Tatler.
Ms Money-Coutts said that speculation about the prince proposing to Miss Bonas had been heightened by the recent engagement of Mr Guy Pelly - a close friend of the two princes - to his girlfriend, Miss Lizzy Wilson. (There are also reports in the press that Miss Pippa Middleton, sister to the Duchess of Cambridge, may be engaged to her boyfriend, London stockbroker Nico Jackson.)
The royal correspondent for The Telegraph reported on Sunday that Miss Bonas would definitely not be joining the crowd in Sandringham, quoting a "courtier" who said that "His Royal Highness knows that it would not be appropriate for Miss Bonas to join the royal family for Christmas until they are a married couple".
Tatler made Miss Bonas its cover star in October with the headline: "Harry loves Cressy: 20 things you need to know about Cressida Bonas." The accompanying article reported that the couple were introduced by Princess Eugenie, a daughter of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and Ms Sarah Ferguson, formerly the duchess of York.
Inevitably, there have been comparisons between Miss Bonas and the Duchess of Cambridge: the latter has been moulded into a typically decorative, mostly mute royal consort, whereas Miss Bonas is "incredibly arty, creative, happy-go-lucky", according to Ms Money-Coutts, who added that "she's a party girl, but not wild or over the top".
Associates say that, whatever happens with the prince, she is determined to have a career of her own, probably as an actress.
Miss Bonas' mother is Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon, the daughter of an earl, who achieved some notoriety as a model in the 1960s by posing apparently topless, smeared in engine oil. She had five children by three husbands, and Miss Bonas is her youngest daughter.