LONDON (AFP) — Prince Harry’s autobiography “Spare” is not due out until next week but it dominated headlines on Thursday after a Spanish-language version of the memoir mistakenly went on sale.
The book was hurriedly withdrawn from shelves in Spain but not before copies were obtained by media outlets, who pored over its contents — and its implications for Britain’s most famous family.
The blunder, despite a worldwide embargo until Tuesday, came after the Guardian newspaper’s US edition revealed on Wednesday night that it had seen a copy of the book and published key excerpts.
They include how Harry was allegedly physically attacked by his older brother, Prince William, in a blazing 2019 row about his wife, Meghan.
Other revelations include how he was told of the death of his mother Princess Diana in a car crash in 1997, and how he received a message from her from beyond the grave via a woman with “powers.”
Harry also touches on his strained relationship with his father, King Charles III, and how he and William pleaded with him not to marry his long-term mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles.
There are disclosures about his use of cocaine as a teenager, the “humiliating” loss of his virginity to an older woman in a field behind a pub, and his time as a soldier hunting Taliban extremists.
The recollections feature an acknowledgement that he killed 25 people while serving as an Apache attack helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.
“It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me,” he wrote, likening hitting his targets to knocking “chess pieces” from a board.
The candid revelation could heighten fears about his safety, after he already flagged concerns about the withdrawal of his state-funded security following his move to the United States with Meghan in 2020.
But the immediate focus was on the escalation of his bitter feud with heir-to-the-throne William, 40, and whether the damage to their relationship and with his wider family could ever be repaired.
Harry wrote that his fight with William came after his brother called Meghan “difficult,””rude” and “abrasive.”
The incident in 2019 — the year after Harry and Meghan married — allegedly saw William tackle his younger brother to the ground as they argued.
“He grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor,” said The Guardian, quoting from the book.
“I landed on the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me.”
Harry then told William to leave. William looked “regretful, and apologized,” Harry recalled, according to the newspaper.
The report said William turned and called back: “You don’t need to tell Meg about this.”
“You mean that you attacked me?” said Harry.
“I didn’t attack you, Harold,” responded William — whom Harry calls “Willy” — using a nickname for his brother, whose birth name is Henry.
Harry and Meghan, a mixed-race former television actress, have fired a string of salvos against his family in TV interviews as well as in a recent six-part Netflix documentary.
The autobiography’s release will be preceded by a series of interviews in Britain and the United States due to air this weekend.
Charles, 74, is to be officially crowned in May but Harry said he was not certain to attend.
“There’s a lot that can happen between now and then,” he said in a clip from an interview with ITV to be aired on Sunday evening.
“The ball is in their court. There’s a lot to be discussed. And I really hope that they are willing to sit down and talk about it.”
Charles, according to the Guardian excerpt, pleaded with his sons to end their feud after the funeral of his father, Prince Philip, in April 2021.
“Please, boys,” Harry quotes his father as saying. “Don’t make my final years a misery.”
Harry told ITV he still believed in the monarchy, though he did not know if he would play any part in its future.
He has railed against media intrusions but was asked if he was doing the same by lifting the lid on his family strife.
“That would be the accusation from the people who don’t understand or don’t want to believe that my family have been briefing the press,” he added.
In London, there was some criticism as the latest claims dominated social media chatter and the airwaves.
“I’m just tired of it all,” Catherine Doherty, a 63-year-old secretary, told AFP. “I don’t know how many times he’s got to say these things.”