Prince Harry launched a broadside at the king, the queen consort, his brother and other royals in a furious ITV interview in which he defended his revelatory memoir, claiming that remaining silent “only allows the abuser to abuse”.
In excerpts from his book, Spare, read aloud during an interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby on Sunday night, Harry wrote that his interests had been “sacrificed” to Camilla’s “PR altar”.
Asked if he was “pretty consistently scathing” about his stepmother and the press, Harry replied: “Scathing? There’s no part of any of the things that I’ve said are scathing towards any member of my family, especially not my stepmother. There are things that have happened that have been incredibly hurtful, some in the past, some current.”
He accused the royal family of “a really horrible reaction” on the day of the Queen’s death, saying the family was on the “back foot” and he had witnessed “leaking and planting”. His words came after it was reported he claimed in his memoir that Meghan was “not welcome” at Balmoral.
In the first of several interviews to be broadcast before the book’s publication day, Harry was asked if his interests had been sacrificed for those of his father, when it came to the press.
Explaining the royals’ relationship with the press, Harry said: “I love my father, I love my brother, I love my family.” He had no intention of hurting or harming them, he said. But regarding the tabloid press, he said “certain members have decided to get in bed with the devil” to rehabilitate their own images.
That was their choice, he said, adding: “But the moment that rehabilitation comes at the detriment to others, me, other members of my family, that’s where I draw the line.”
He spoke of royals competing for the limelight. William and Kate, he said, had suffered from this “from my father and stepmother, or their office”. He thought, as the “spare” to the heir, everything would be fine with him and Meghan.
“How wrong I was. The very thing that William and Kate had experienced from Pa and Camilla happened to us, and happened from William and Kate’s office as well,” he said.
An excerpt from his audiobook was played in which Harry said he and William told Charles: “We endorse Camilla. Just please don’t marry her, just be together, Pa.”
Harry continues: “He didn’t answer. But she answered. Straight away. Shortly after our private summits with her, she began to play the long game. A campaign aimed at marriage, and eventually the crown, with Pa’s blessing we presumed.
“Stories began to appear everywhere in all the papers about her private conversations with Willy. Stories that contained pin-point accurate details, none of which had come from Willy, of course. They could only have been leaked by the one other person present.”
Excerpts also revealed that, as the relationship between Harry and William deteriorated, they met Charles to discuss the situation after the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. During their exchange, William swore “on Mummy’s life” that he just wanted Harry to be happy.
“For nearly 25 years we’d reserved that soul-crushing vow for times when one of us needed to be heard to be believed quickly,” Harry wrote. But, he told Bradby: “It stopped me cold, as it was meant to. Not because he’d used it. But because it didn’t work. I simply didn’t believe him.”
Harry said he wanted reconciliation, but with “accountability”.
Asked to justify writing the book, and disclosing private conversations with his family, Harry said: “The level of planting and leakings from other members of the family means that, in my mind, they have written countless books, certainly millions of words have been dedicated to trying to trash my wife and myself to the point where I had to leave my country.”
Harry denied he and Meghan had accused members of the royal family of racism in their Oprah Winfrey interview, saying: “The British press said that.” Referring to the well-reported remarks over the colour of their son Archie’s skin, he described it as unconscious bias, not racism. He also said the incident involving charity founder Ngozi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey was “a very good example of the environment within the institution”.
Asked if William and Kate had not got on with Meghan “almost from the get-go”, Harry replied: “Yeah, fair.” Stereotyping had caused a “bit of a barrier”, he said, adding: “American actress, divorced, biracial.”
Harry also spoke about “beardgate”: a bizarre week-long row in which Harry revealed he had to ask the Queen if he could keep his beard for his wedding – a no-no according to military rules, apparently. The Queen agreed, after Harry explained his beard was “a shield to my anxiety”.
But he claimed William later tried to order him to shave it off. It was an “heir/spare thing”, Harry said and also, he thought, because William had himself been asked to shave off a beard while in uniform.
Harry admitted to feeling “some guilt” when walking among the crowds outside Kensington Palace after his mother’s death, and feeling the mourners’ tears on his hands when he shook them, saying the only time he cried was at her burial.
Harry also revealed how his father blamed himself for his son’s struggles. Narrating an extract from the book, he read: “Over dinner one night at Highgrove, Pa and I spoke at some length about what I’d been suffering.
“I gave him the particulars, told him story after story. Towards the end of the meal he looked down at his plate and said softly: ‘I suppose it’s my fault. I should have got you the help you needed years ago.’
“I assured him that it wasn’t his fault, but I appreciated the apology.”
The theme of apologising cropped up again when the main US interview with Harry to mark publication of his book was broadcast by CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday night. Asked by journalist Anderson Cooper whether the rupture within the royal family could be healed, Harry replied: “Yes. The ball is very much in their court, but you know, Meghan and I have continued to say that we will openly apologise for anything that we did wrong … There needs to be a constructive conversation, one that can happen in private that doesn’t get leaked.”
Cooper asked him directly whether he was in communication with William. “Currently, no,” he said.
Asked whether he spoke to his father, Harry replied: “We aren’t, we haven’t spoken for quite a while. No, not recently.”
In addition to the 60 Minutes interview, there will be further US media appearances with Michael Strahan of Good Morning America on Monday and Stephen Colbert on the Late Show on CBS on Wednesday morning UK time.
Kensington Palace declined to comment on the ITV interview.