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A royal debut

Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ sets record for single-day book sales

1.4 million English language copies of prince’s memoir sold on first day on shelves; Harry says he left out revelations about his family: ‘I don’t think they would ever forgive me’

Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" on sale at a Barnes & Noble retail store in Chicago on January 10, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)
Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" on sale at a Barnes & Noble retail store in Chicago on January 10, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

LONDON — Prince Harry’s memoir sold a “record” 1.4 million copies in just 24 hours, its publisher said on Thursday, as his father and brother kept calm and carried on with public visits.

Sales of “Spare” hit 1.4 million English-language copies on its first day in the UK, United States and Canada, smashing Penguin Random House’s sales record, the publisher said.

The figures come as the first opinion poll since publication showed Harry’s popularity in the UK continuing to nosedive.

The headline-grabbing book was published Tuesday accompanied by a high-profile string of promotional interviews.

The sales outstrip Penguin Random House’s previous first-day non-fiction record, for Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land” in 2020 and Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” in 2018.

The former US president’s memoir sold 887,000 English-language copies in the United States and Canada on its first day with his wife’s book selling 725,000.

Guinness World Records said the first-day sale figures made “Spare” the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever, overtaking the previous record set by “A Promised Land.”

In this file photo dated October 28, 2015, then-US president Barack Obama, right, and Britain’s Prince Harry, shake hands in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

In France, the French edition of “Spare” launched with a print run of 210,000 and is being reprinted with an additional 130,000 copies, publisher Fayard told AFP.

Demand from booksellers was about 20 percent higher than for Obama’s presidential memoirs, it added.

Keep calm

As the publishers in New York hailed the success of “Spare,” the royal family — whose “never complain, never explain” motto has been criticized by Harry — put on a united front back home.

Maintaining their silence on the subject, heir to the throne Prince William visited a hospital in Liverpool with his wife Catherine, while his and Harry’s father King Charles III visited a community center in Scotland.

In Liverpool, there was a mixed reaction among those who turned out to see William and Catherine.

One 81-year-old woman named Sylvia grasped the future king’s hand, telling him “Keep going, Will, Scousers [people in Liverpool] love you,” to which he replied: “I will do.”

“I think that every family has its problems and obviously they [Harry and his wife Meghan Markle] feel the need to put that out into the world,” hospital worker Shannon Simons, 28, told AFP.

She added that the book seemed “money-grabbing.”

Britain’s Prince William (L), Prince of Wales, and Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales, visit the Open Door Charity in Birkenhead, England, on January 12, 2023. (Jon Super/Pool/AFP)

However, another staff member, Stacey Oats, 35, said she was not a fan of the “outdated, royal family” and saw Harry and Meghan as “more normal.”

Parts of Harry’s autobiography were widely leaked but its contents have continued to fill airtime and newspaper and online pages.

Revelations included a claim that William physically attacked Harry in an altercation in 2019 and how the once-close brothers begged their father not to marry Queen Consort Camilla.

The 38-year-old former soldier also said he had killed 25 Taliban during his time in Afghanistan, sparking condemnation from military personnel and the Taliban.

Gina Centrello, president and publisher of the Random House Group, said in a statement that “Spare” was far more than a celebrity memoir.

“Vulnerable and heartfelt, brave and intimate, ‘Spare’ is the story of someone we may have thought we already knew, but now we can truly come to understand Prince Harry through his own words,” she said.

Cashing in

The book is one of a number of lucrative contracts struck by Harry and his American wife, cashing in on their royal connections.

The couple dramatically quit royal life and moved to California in 2020 and have complained bitterly about their treatment in the UK.

A YouGov survey published in The Times newspaper found only 24 percent of people now have a positive view of the prince — down from 80 percent a decade ago — with 68 percent critical.

Among over-65s, Harry and Meghan’s popularity ratings were even worse than those of the disgraced Prince Andrew, the survey found.

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, leave after visiting Canada House on January 7, 2020, in London. (AP/Frank Augstein, File)

The first US printing of “Spare” was two million copies, however the book has now gone back to press for additional copies to meet demand, according to Penguin Random House.

The publication comes as the royal family prepares for Charles’s coronation on May 6.

‘Just don’t want the world to know’

Harry left out revelations about his family in his memoir, saying he did not want “the world to know because I don’t think they would ever forgive me,” according to an interview published by the Daily Telegraph on Friday.

The prince told the UK broadsheet that he has enough material to write another book, mostly focussed on his relationship with his brother and father, in comments likely to further unsettle the royal family.

“The first draft was different. It was 800 pages, and now it’s down to 400 pages,” he said of his book.

“It could have been two books, put it that way. And the hard bit was taking things out.

“There are some things that have happened, especially between me and my brother, and to some extent between me and my father, that I just don’t want the world to know. Because I don’t think they would ever forgive me,” he added.

The rogue prince said the media had a “ton of dirt about my family” but that they “sweep it under the carpet for juicy stories about someone else.”

In “Spare”, Harry portrays his father, 74, as emotionally crippled, the victim of brutal childhood bullying.

But among the many contradictions in the book, Harry also characterizes the king as a doting father, who favors strong French aftershave and conducts headstands in his underwear to alleviate polo-induced back pain.

In this February 13, 2014 file photo, Britain’s Prince Charles, center, with his sons Prince William, right, and Prince Harry stops for the media outside Lancaster House. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)

In his Telegraph interview, Harry said he was airing his grievances in public not to “collapse” the royal family but because he had a “responsibility” to reform it in order to protect Prince William’s children.

William, he said, “has made it very clear to me that his kids are not my responsibility.”

The book comes on the back of the six-hour Netflix docuseries “Harry & Meghan.”

A YouGov poll on Monday found that 64 percent of Britons now have a negative view of the once-popular prince — his lowest-ever rating — and that Meghan also scores dismally.

They may also be straining public interest in Meghan’s homeland, according to The New York Times.

“Even in the United States, which has a soft spot for royals in exile and a generally higher tolerance than Britain does for redemptive stories about overcoming trauma and family dysfunction, there is a sense that there are only so many revelations the public can stomach,” its former London correspondent Sarah Lyall wrote.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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