Prince Harry: A look at leaked claims from memoir Spare
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As excerpts from his biography Spare were leaked on Thursday, commentators accused the Duke of Sussex of selling his soul “in return for big bucks”. In the most shocking of his “deeply personal” claims, Harry reportedly says he was violently attacked by Prince William, who he brands his “arch nemesis”.
The fifth in line to the throne also reveals he killed 25 people while serving as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, took cocaine when he was 17 and old and lost his virginity to an unnamed older woman.
But it is his apparent willingness to bad mouth his loved ones that has left royal watchers reeling.
One commentator, Phil Dampier said: “Harry has sold his soul for big bucks and it now seems nothing is off limits.
“Revealing intimate details of deeply personal family matters shows how determined and desperate he is for money.
“There seems to be no limit to his attempts to make his fortune.
“He has washed his dirty linen in public despite complaining of intrusion into his own life.
“Whatever disagreements he has, they should have been kept behind closed doors.
“His hypocrisy is breathtaking and I find it hard to believe Charles and William will ever forgive him for this.”
Incendiary details of his life so far – billed by Harry as an “accurate and wholly truthful” account – touch on the deterioration of bonds with those he holds most dear.
His tinderbox relationship with William has now plunged to new lows after Harry claimed the Prince of Wales became violent during a heated row.
His book, due to be published next week, is said to describe how the heir to the throne allegedly branded Meghan “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive” before knocking Harry to the floor.
The attack is said to have happened in 2019 at Harry’s then-home Nottingham Cottage, in the grounds of Kensington Palace.
He says: “It all happened so fast. So very fast. He grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and 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.”
Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have so far refused to be drawn on the astonishing allegations.
But one royal watcher said: “Be under no illusion, William will be livid. Mainly on a personal level, it will hurt. But then there’s what it means for his public image and whether it will skew how people view him as he works to shape his new position as the direct heir to the throne.”
Harry, 38, refers to William, 40, as his “beloved brother and arch-nemesis” amid the apocalyptic falling out triggered by a ferocious face-to-face exchange in 2019.
The claims are almost certain to irrevocably damage the already-fragile relationship with his older sibling.
But it will also heap pressure on William – a champion against bullying and better mental health – to respond. Palace insiders on Thursday night said he was determined to keep a dignified silence amid the maelstrom.
Spare has been billed by publisher Penguin Random House as “a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief”.
Harry said his biography, ghost-written by Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist JR Moehringer, is his take “not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become”.
In it he details how he took cocaine aged 17, lost his virginity to an unnamed older woman and killed 25 people while serving as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.
Experts said the memoir will be significantly more damaging to the monarchy than the TV interviews and will take a wrecking ball to the institution at a time it strives to modernise and change.
Mr Dampier, a respected royal authority, added: “Up until this point I thought Charles would invite Harry to his Coronation, but I personally think he has now crossed a line and the time has surely come for him to take action.”
Despite the well-known, long-running and bitter feud between the Duke of Sussex and the Royal Family, the incendiary revelations will shock millions who thought William and Harry remained close, especially through an unbreakable bond forged after the death of their cherished mother Diana, Princess of Wales, and their championing of better mental health for all, through the Heads Together charity they founded.
However, the leaked extracts appear to show the chasm between them runs deeper than many thought and their relationship may be irrevocable.
Describing a confrontation at his London home in 2019, Harry claims William called Meghan “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”.
The confrontation quickly escalated until William “grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and…knocked me to the floor”.
In the book, ghost-written by Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist JR Moehringer, Harry writes that William wanted to talk about “the whole rolling catastrophe” of their relationship.
But when he turned up at Nottingham Cottage where Harry was living in the grounds of Kensington Palace – known colloquially as “Nott Cott” – he was already “piping hot”.
After William complained about Meghan, Harry said he told him he was not being rational, leading to the two men shouting at each other.
Harry then accused William of acting like an heir, unable to understand why his younger brother was not content to be a spare.
Spare, the title of this biography, is an explicit reference to a centuries-old royal saying that a first son is an heir to titles, power and fortune, and a second is a spare.
After the siblings threw a volley of verbal insults, Harry says William told him he was only trying to help.
Harry writes: “Are you serious? Help me? Sorry – is that what you call this? Helping me?”
That angered his brother, who swore while stepping towards him. Harry writes that he retreated to the kitchen, but his furious brother followed.
Harry says he then gave his brother a glass of water and said: “Willy, I can’t speak to you when you’re like this.”
He writes: “He set down the water, called me another name, then came at me.
Harry writes William urged him to hit back, making reference to fights they had when they were growing up. Harry says he refused to do so.
He says William left, before skulking back “looking regretful” before apologising.
When William left again, Harry claims he turned and called back, saying: “You don’t need to tell Meg about this.”
He said: “‘You mean that you attacked me?’ Harry writes his brother replied: “‘I didn’t attack you, Harold.’”
Harry says he didn’t immediately tell his wife – but did call his therapist.
When Meghan later noticed “scrapes and bruises” on his back he came clean, but Harry says she “wasn’t that surprised, and wasn’t all that angry. She was terribly sad.”
Harry also recounts an anguished meeting with Charles and William at the funeral of his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, when the now-King pleaded to the squabbling siblings: “Please, boys, don’t make my final years a misery.”
Harry met former actress Meghan in 2016 and the couple married at Windsor Castle in 2018.
They were made Duke and Duchess of Sussex by the Queen and started as working royals but quickly drifted apart from The Firm and eventually quit, first moving to her native Canada before settling in California. In 2021 they gave an explosive interview to US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey and last month released a six-part Netflix documentary.
The royal said he longs for “family not an institution” but accused senior royals of having “no willingness to reconcile” the seismic row.
Talking to friend and broadcaster Tom Bradby in an excerpt from the 90-minute interview, he said: “It never needed to be this way”, adding: “I want a family, not an institution.”
The fight is the first time either of King Charles’ sons have spoken about having a physical altercation, although William light-heartedly joked about being able to conquer his younger brother during a light-hearted exchange in 2017.
Speaking to Scott Mills on Radio 1 William was asked: “I know everyone experiences a bit of sibling rivalry. If there was a fight between you and Harry, who would win?”
William said: “Well that’s clearly obvious, me.” When asked why?, William added: “Because I’m bigger.”
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