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Britain’s Prince Harry has launched a series of incendiary accusations against members of his family in his new memoir, which reveals a number of private confrontations between him and other senior royals and details his split from the family, media outlets who obtained early copies of the book have reported.
CNN has not seen a copy of the book – called “Spare,” a reference to Harry’s role as the monarchy’s “spare heir” – but has requested an advance copy from the publisher before its release on January 10. Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace have not commented on the allegations in the book, which Harry has promoted in a series of televised interviews that are set to air in the days ahead.
Here is what we’ve learned from reports on the book and from the interview trailers this week.
Among the most explosive claims is Harry’s allegation that Prince William, his older brother, knocked him onto the floor during an argument over Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.
The alleged scuffle took place after a conversation between the two siblings, during which William, the heir to the British throne, called Meghan “difficult,” “rude” and “abrasive,” according to The Guardian, which obtained a copy the book and was the first to report the claim.
The confrontation escalated until William “grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and … knocked me to the floor,” the newspaper reports.
The article focuses on the alleged physical altercation between the pair but describes the entirety of the book as a “remarkable volume.”
The story reports Harry’s version of events, in which William arrives at Harry and Meghan’s then-home, Nottingham Cottage on Kensington Palace grounds in London, to allegedly discuss “‘the whole rolling catastrophe’ of their relationship and struggles with the press.”
Harry alleges that William attacked him after he gave his elder brother water and attempted to cool the heated verbal exchange, according to The Guardian.
The article quotes Harry: “He set down the water, called me another name, then came at me. It all happened so fast. So very fast. He grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor. I landed on the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me. I lay there for a moment, dazed, then got to my feet and told him to get out.”
The article says Harry states in the book that William urged him to hit back, but he refused to do so. William left but later returned “looking regretful” and apologized, according to the Guardian article, quoting the book.
In a trailer for his interview with Britain’s ITV, set to air Sunday, the duke elaborated on the altercation and recalled seeing a “red mist” take hold of William.
“What was different here was the level of frustration, and I talk about the red mist that I had for so many years, and I saw this red mist in him,” he said, adding, “He wanted me to hit him back, but I chose not to.”
Separately, “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan has teased his own interview with the royal during which it was revealed Harry describes William in the book as his “beloved brother and arch-nemesis.”
Elsewhere in the Guardian report, the 38-year-old recalls returning to the UK for the first time after stepping back as a senior royal in April 2021 for the funeral of the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip.
The somber occasion was the first time the duke was reunited with his father, now King Charles III, and William since he and Meghan had spoken to Oprah Winfrey for their bombshell interview.
Harry’s retelling suggests tensions with William remained high and quotes Charles pleading to his sons not to “make my final years a misery,” according to the Guardian article.
The article also revealed the brothers refer to each other as “Willy” and “Harold” respectively.
Other UK tabloid newspapers are also now claiming to have obtained a Spanish-language copy of “Spare,” after it was mistakenly made available in some bookstores in Spain on Thursday ahead of its scheduled release next week. In Spain, the book is called “En La Sombra,” which translates to “In the Shadow.”
According to additional reports from the Mail Online, Harry claims Charles also once joked about who Harry’s father really is.
The British tabloid used a Spanish version of the book to quote the duke’s recollection of the quip about his mother Diana’s affair with Major James Hewitt and recounts his father, then Prince Charles joking about it.
According to the Mail’s own translation of the book, the prince explained his father “liked to tell anecdotes” and mentions that “one of his best” was his account of meeting a man in a psychiatric ward, claiming to be the Prince of Wales. Charles supposedly shook his finger at the man and said, “I am the Prince of Wales” when the patient mirrored his gesture.
The duke writes that his father followed his tale by joking: “‘Who knows if I’m even your real father? Perhaps your father really is in Broadmoor, my dear son!’” the Mail Online reports.
Harry is quoted as finding the joke “in poor taste,” according to the tabloid, given the rumors about his real father being Hewitt, triggered by his resemblance to the Army officer.
The former Princess of Wales, Diana, confirmed she had a five-year affair with Hewitt in a now infamous BBC Panorama interview with journalist Martin Bashir. She claimed the relationship started in 1986 – two years after the Duke of Sussex was born.
According to the excerpts obtained by the Mail Online, Prince Harry added that if the King thought anything about Major Hewitt, he “kept it to himself.”
In another anecdote from the book reported by The Sun, Harry reportedly “begged” his father not to marry Camilla, who is now Queen Consort, and feared that she would be a “wicked stepmother.”
The Mail Online and The Sun reports say Harry recalled that he and William said they would welcome Camilla into the family, but asked their father not to marry her, calling Camilla the “other woman.”
Quoting from the copy of the book, the Mail Online reported that Harry writes, “I remember wondering… if she would be cruel to me; if she would be like all the evil stepmothers in the stories,” adding, “Willy had been suspicious of the Other Woman for a long time, which confused and tormented him; When those suspicions were confirmed, he felt agonizing remorse for not having done or said anything before.”
He also compares meeting her for the first time to getting an injection, writing in the book, “close your eyes and you won’t even feel it,” according to the two outlets.
The two UK tabloids reported that the book also claims King Charles tried to “win over the kids” before asking the British public to accept his marriage to Camilla and that she held a private audience with Harry in which she appeared “bored.”
Prince Harry also writes that he was too young to suspect his father’s affair, but notes that his brother “harbored suspicions” for a long time, according to The Sun report. “It would confuse him and torment him… When they were confirmed he felt awful remorse for not having said or done anything sooner,” Prince Harry says, according to The Sun. The royal adds in the book that as a child he felt “the lack of stability, absence of love and affection in our home.”
The stories reported by the Mail Online and The Sun are based on the tabloids’ own translations of the Spanish-language version of the book.
The UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported that Prince Harry claims to have killed 25 people while serving with the British army in Afghanistan, saying that in the heat of combat he viewed his targets as “chess pieces” rather than people.
The Telegraph also said it obtained a copy of the Spanish version of the book ahead of its official release.
The prince completed two tours of Afghanistan, one spanning 2007 to 2008 and the other from 2012 to 2013.
Advancements of technology “in the era of Apaches and laptops,” allowed Harry to say “with exactness how many enemy combatants I had killed,” adding that, “it seemed to me essential not to be afraid of that number.”
“So my number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me,” he says, according to the Telegraph.
Harry also says he used to watch back footage of each “kill” after returning to base, from the nose mounted camera on his Apache helicopter, the Telegraph reported, and that in the “din and confusion of combat” he viewed those he killed as the “baddies eliminated before they could kill goodies.”
The remarks have sparked criticism from some British security and military figures – and an angry rebuke from the Taliban.
The memoirs see the duke reveal his final words to the Queen hours after she died on September 8 last year. He “hoped she was happy and she was with Grandfather now,” according to the Mail Online.
The Mail Online says Harry describes how he learned of his grandmother’s death after checking the BBC News website.
According to the excerpt, Harry says that upon arriving at Balmoral, the Scottish home of the royal family, he was greeted by Princess Anne who took him upstairs to where the Queen was lying.
“I advanced with uncertainty and saw her,” he writes in the book, according to Mail Online. “I stayed still, watching her carefully for a good while.
“I whispered that I hoped she was happy and that she was with Grandfather now. I said that I admired her for having carried out her duties until the end. The [Platinum] Jubilee, the welcoming of the new Prime Minister.”
In another part of the memoir, it’s revealed that the Duchess of Sussex allegedly upset the Princess of Wales by saying she must have “baby brain because of her hormones” after she had given birth and during the run up to the royal wedding in 2018, the Mail Online reported.
In an excerpt, Harry reportedly describes a 2018 meeting with William and Kate at their residence – which, according to the duke, was an attempt to clear the air between both couples.
The tabloid newspaper went on to claim that in Harry’s recollection the Prince of Wales called Meghan “rude” and pointed his finger, saying “These things are not done here,” to which Meghan reportedly replied “If you don’t mind, keep your finger out of my face.”
Prince Harry also reportedly claims in his book that Kate demanded an apology from Meghan for offending her, the Mail Online wrote.
Kate allegedly told Meghan that “we are not close enough for you to talk about my hormones,” according to the Mail Online, quoting from Harry’s book.
Harry went on to say that Meghan said she spoke to all her friends that way, before his brother Prince William pointed his finger at Meghan and accused her of being rude.
The Duchess of Sussex is then said to have declared that she had not wanted to offend Kate.
According to the Mail Online, Harry writes in defense of his wife: “Meg said that she had never intentionally done anything to offend Kate.”
The autobiography also revisits the controversial incident of wearing a Nazi costume to a party in 2005. Addressing the scandal, Harry says his decision to wear it was influenced by his brother Prince William and Kate, whose opinion he sought, according to the BBC. The media outlet has also been translating a Spanish-language version of the book.
In 2005, Harry was pictured on the front page of The Sun newspaper wearing a swastika armband on a German military jacket at a costume party. At the time, Harry took responsibility for the incident and issued an apology through the Clarence House Press Office saying he was “very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize.”
The topic was also recently mentioned in the Sussexes’ Netflix documentary titled “Harry & Meghan” during which the duke called the incident one of the “biggest mistakes” of his life, adding that he felt “so ashamed afterwards.”
Harry’s new claim that his brother and sister-in-law were involved contrasts with his previous public apologies, in which he took responsibility for the incident alone.
Harry revisits the time when he was debating what to wear and called the couple to ask their opinions on potential costumes, to which they allegedly directed him to wear the Nazi uniform over a pilot costume.
“I called Will and Kate and asked them what they thought,” Harry writes in the book. “Nazi uniform, they said. I rented it, along with a ridiculous moustache, and returned home.”
“Willy and Kate were laughing. It was even worse than Willy’s leopard [cat] costume. Much more ridiculous,” Harry continues in his memoirs, according to the BBC.
Harry, who now resides in California with Meghan and their two children, also admits taking cocaine at age 17, according to Sky News.
According to the UK media outlet, which is also now claiming to have obtained a leaked copy, Harry writes: “Of course I had been taking cocaine at that time. At someone’s house, during a hunting weekend, I was offered a line, and since then I had consumed some more,” Sky News reported.
“It wasn’t very fun, and it didn’t make me feel especially happy as seemed to happen to others, but it did make me feel different, and that was my main objective. To feel. To be different,” Prince Harry adds, according to Sky. “I was a seventeen-year-old willing to try almost anything that would alter the pre-established order… At least, that’s what I was trying to convince myself of.”
Prince Harry has previously admitted to drug use in his youth. In 2002, when he was a 16-year-old schoolboy, he faced accusations of underage drinking and cannabis use, CNN previously reported. A confession of heavy drinking and marijuana use when he was 16 prompted his father to send him to the drug rehab center, Phoenix House UK, for a day.
Elsewhere in the autobiography Harry describes losing his virginity in what he calls “a humiliating episode,” according to Sky.
The UK media outlet quotes Harry as saying the encounter was with “an older lady” who loved horses.
While he does not reveal the woman’s identity, Sky News reports that he adds: “One of my mistakes was letting it happen in a field, just behind a busy pub.”
“No doubt someone had seen us,” Harry continues, according to Sky.
Harry also reveals in his memoir that he recreated the journey his late mother took through the Paris tunnel where she and two others were involved in a fatal car crash, according to an excerpt published by People magazine.
Diana died in 1997, when Harry was 12.
In the excerpt, Harry is quoted as saying he rode past the Ritz where his mother had dinner that fateful night, and then through the tunnel, along the Seine River at the Pont de l’Alma bridge, where the car carrying Diana crashed in August 1997. He was 23 at the time of recreating the route and was visiting Paris for the 2007 Rugby World Cup semifinal, according to the excerpt.
He asked to drive at 65 miles per hour (104.6 kilometers per hour) – “the exact speed Mummy’s car had supposedly been driving, according to police, at the time of the crash,” the excerpt continues.
“I’d always imagined the tunnel as some treacherous passageway, inherently dangerous, but it was just a short, simple, no-frills tunnel,” Harry says, before adding that there was “no reason anyone should ever die inside it.”
Harry also writes that he asked his driver to go through the tunnel a second time, according to People.
“It had been a very bad idea. I’d had plenty of bad ideas in my twenty-three years, but this one was uniquely ill-conceived. I’d told myself that I wanted closure, but I didn’t really. Deep down, I’d hoped to feel in that tunnel what I’d felt when JLP [Jamie Lowther Pinkerton, former private secretary to Harry and Prince William] gave me the police files—disbelief. Doubt. Instead, that was the night all doubt fell away,” Harry says, according to People.
“I’d thought driving the tunnel would bring an end, or brief cessation, to the pain, the decade of unrelenting pain. Instead, it brought on the start of Pain, Part Deux,” he continues.
Separately, Harry also shares his attempt to contact Diana through a woman who claimed to have “powers,” according to the advance copy of his book seen by The Guardian.
In an article published Thursday, the British newspaper recounts a passage in which Harry says the woman offered him a message from Diana.
“You’re living the life she couldn’t… You’re living the life she wanted for you,” the woman told Harry in a message she said was from Diana, according to The Guardian.
In a clip from “Harry: The Interview,” which will be broadcast in Britain on ITV on Sunday, the prince speaks about his memories of meeting mourners and the guilt he felt while walking outside Kensington Palace following the death of his mother in 1997.
Harry also says that he cried once in the wake of his mother’s death – at her burial.
“Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing the night my mother died,” he tells presenter Tom Bradby.
“I cried once, at the burial, and you know I go into detail about how strange it was and how actually there was some guilt that I felt, and I think William felt as well, by walking around the outside of Kensington Palace.”
Harry described feeling the mourners’ tears on their hands when he shook them. “There were 50,000 bouquets of flowers to our mother and there we were shaking people’s hands, smiling,” he says. “I’ve seen the videos, right, I looked back over it all. And the wet hands that we were shaking, we couldn’t understand why their hands were wet, but it was all the tears that they were wiping away.”
Prince Harry is expected to reveal even more detail about his ongoing rift with the royal family after sitting down for multiple television interviews around his memoir.
In a preview clip of the ITV sit-down released Thursday, Harry says he “still believe[s] in the monarchy” but when asked if he anticipates playing a part in its future, he replies, “I don’t know.”
Harry also wouldn’t be drawn on whether his family will return to the UK in May for his father’s coronation.
“There’s a lot that can happen between now and then,” Harry says in the short clip. “But, the door is always open. The ball is in their court. There’s a lot to be discussed and I really hope that they’re willing to sit down and talk about it.”
Elsewhere in the one-minute promo clip, Harry again makes the suggestion that Buckingham Palace planted negative media reports.
Responding to Bradby’s suggestion some people will accuse him of invading the family’s privacy without permission, Harry says, “That would be the accusation from the people that don’t understand or don’t want to believe that my family have been briefing the press.
“I don’t know how staying silent is ever going to make things better,” Prince Harry says.