Chelsy Davy admitted yesterday that she "couldn't cope" with the pressure of dating a royal but said how she and Prince Harry would "always be good friends".
The former law student said she had been too young for such a high-profile romance, adding: "Some people are definitely better at it than others."
Miss Davy, 30, and Harry, 31, had an on-off relationship for seven years, ending in 2011.
And having previously shunned publicity, rarely granting media interviews, Miss Davy has now had a somewhat dramatic change of heart.
Her turnaround is because she is launching a range of luxury jewellery, called Aya, featuring 18ct gold earrings that cost £4,850 a pair. As she candidly admits: "I still want a personal life that I don't talk about. But I want everyone to know about Aya."
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Zimbabwe-born Miss Davy describes growing up in Africa and surviving an elephant charge and being held at gunpoint by robbers - but declared the biggest challenges in her life came after she started dating Harry.
After first meeting while she was a teenager at Cheltenham Ladies' College and then getting together during Prince Harry's gap year in Cape Town, Miss Davy returned to the UK to study at Leeds University and be closer to the young royal.
But she found the scrutiny she was under as a potential future princess was unbearable. She said: "It was so full-on: crazy and scary and uncomfortable. I found it very difficult when it was bad. I couldn't cope."
Miss Davy grew up on a Zimbabwean game park twice the size of Surrey, which her father managed, and she roamed it freely barefoot. There were monkeys, giraffes and lions everywhere, and she said: "There's a video of me on a plastic toy motorbike, in front of a herd of buffalo, just having a stare-off."
An elephant once mock-charged her, and she held her ground, telling the Times: "We both got a fright. But you can't run. You must stand."
Unlike Harry, who has enjoyed game hunting, Miss Davy reveals: "I never shot a thing. I hate that."
After she persuaded her parents to let her attend an English boarding school, she arrived at Cheltenham aged 14 "like Crocodile Dundee". She said: "I wore ridiculous things. The girls scared me a bit. I was this innocent, stunted child who'd been brought up in the bush."
After school, she returned to Africa and then started dating Harry. When she went to Leeds University to study law, she lived on Britain's "most burgled street", but said: "I wasn't bothered. I've been held at gunpoint in Cape Town."
She described being in a bar in the African city with a friend when robbers "put a gun to my head", adding: "They frogmarched us into the kitchen, made us all lie down, patted us down for valuables and said: "The first person to look up we're going to shoot".' Having left university, she tried to carve out a career as a solicitor at Allen & Overy, one of the world's biggest law firms - often working until 4am.
She said: "It was nuts. That's also why I wanted to go back to Africa. Now it's calm, now it's fine."
Focusing on her jewellery business, Miss Davy now divides her time between Zimbabwe, Zambia, where raw materials for her designs are mined, and her West London home in Chelsea.
And she hasn't lost her royal connections - last week she was joined by Princess Eugenie for the Aya launch at Chelsea fashion boutique Baar and Bass.