(dailymail.co.uk ) - Chelsy Davy has split from Prince Harry, telling him she 'needs space' to carve out her own identity.
The party-loving Zimbabwean told friends she was having a "trial separation" from the Prince while she studies at Leeds University and he pursues his Army career.
The couple began their separation in the style that has characterised their three-year relationship - partying hard at different nightclubs just a few miles away from each other in London.
Chelsy's decision to split from the Prince came less than a week after The Mail on Sunday revealed that the 22-year-old was desperately unhappy in Leeds.
The news is sure to cause concern to the Queen, who will be worried that the separation, following the on-off romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton, will convince the public that the young Royals, like their parents' generation, are incapable of forming stable relationships.
Chelsy was said to have made a series of tearful telephone calls to the Prince last week - and she later confided to a close friend that Harry had agreed to the "trial separation".
A friend close to Chelsy told The Mail on Sunday: "This is not an over-for-good situation. Chelsy and Harry both love each other very much but Chelsy has had a lot to come to terms with over recent months since moving to the UK and has not found the transition an easy one.
"She kept saying she needed to take some time out to re-establish herself. She still loves him, but she feels she needs to carve an identity as her own person rather than as Prince Harry's girlfriend.
"Over recent weeks she's been coming down to London and partying with Harry's friends. They were together at Amika nightclub in Kensington just two weeks ago when Chelsy appeared incredibly down and subdued.
"She was not her normal partying self. She had confided it was because she was missing Zimbabwe and her family in South Africa but in fact she was having doubts about her relationship with Prince Harry back then.
"While they care for each other deeply she needs to be able to be her own person. She is pragmatic about the split. They're using it as an opportunity to take a break rather than splitting for good."
A senior Palace aide was last night reported to have said: "The relationship is over. It has simply run its course. Harry will be carrying on his Army career and Chelsy will continue her studies."
But we can reveal today that Harry has had as many problems with his Army career as with his relationship with Chelsy.
He has told friends that he has threatened to leave the Household Cavalry and concentrate on charity work if he is not sent to Afghanistan to fight with his regiment.
Immediately after the split, Harry was back at Amika, partying hard with a group of five friends on Friday night - one of whom bore a remarkable resemblance to his old friend, TV presenter Natalie Pinkham. "She looked very pretty," said one onlooker.
He was overheard boasting that he planned to get "as drunk as possible" and ran up a ?2,500 bar bill in only a few hours. Other guests noticed an ice bucket filled with a magnum of Dom Perignon champagne, at a cost of ?400 a bottle.
Meanwhile Chelsy was on the other side of London, partying with friends from Leeds, where she is studying for her law postgraduate degree.
She is said to have been concerned about Harry's increasing appetite for alcohol, as well as not feeling able to trust the 23-year-old Prince when he was not by her side.
Last week this newspaper revealed that Chelsy's friends in Leeds had become concerned that she was becoming increasingly depressed about her situation.
Less than two months into her two-year course, she appeared to be finding it difficult to settle in and deal with a new country, climate and social scene.
Her mother Beverly had initially stayed in Leeds to help her put down some roots, but she has now flown back to South Africa.
Chelsy is said to have found it hard to cope with swapping her privileged upbringing in Zimbabwe, where she has a penthouse apartment and a family ranch, for the dour surroundings of Leeds, where she lives in a redbrick terrace house.
And despite travelling 6,000 miles to be closer to her boyfriend, Chelsy has not seen as much of Harry as she might have liked.
They are still separated by a 200 miles, as he has had duties to perform at his barracks in Windsor with the Household Cavalry, where he holds the rank of Second Lieutenant.
She has been a frequent visitor to London and Windsor, but he has only made the trip to Yorkshire once in the last two months, making a flying visit.
Another friend told The Mail on Sunday: "They've coped with a long-distance relationship for that long but the chances are that like William and Kate, Harry and Chelsy will get back together. They adore each other but it's simply a case of both of them needing to take some time out."
Harry had hoped to go to Afghanistan with the rest of his comrades in the Household Cavalry's C squadron in a second deployment, after first being refused the posting in May. But last month he was told he would be too much of a target for terrorists.
"He has become so disincentivised that all he wants to do is get smashed with his friends and hang out with them," the friend added. "He hasn't paid Chelsy the attention she expected.
"When they were at Amika nightclub two weeks ago their body language spoke volumes. Just a few weeks before at the same club they were incredibly tactile, openly kissing and hugging. The second time, Chelsy looked miserable.
"The past fortnight has been incredibly upsetting for both of them. There have been numerous tearful conversations. Ultimately it was Chelsy who told Harry she needed time out, but she is hopeful they can work things out."
Chelsy is said to have been particularly upset that Harry chose to go to France to watch the Rugby World Cup final last month rather than attend her 22nd birthday party.