The veteran broadcaster and University Challenge host wrote a new comment about the Duke of Sussex’s autobiography, which has become the fastest-selling non-fiction book yet.
In an article for The Telegraph, titled “History won’t be kind to Prince Harry”, Paxman, 72, addressed several aspects of the duke’s ghostwritten book – including his troubled relationship with William.
“The Prince’s most deadly sin appears to have been his breaking of the code of omertà in talking about his private feelings,” Paxman wrote. “Personally, I wish he would just shut up and get on with his life as a terrifically privileged young person.”
He repeated the assertion Harry was a “very privileged young man” and compared his book to a “series of moans” which would likely have no “constitutional implications” for the monarchy.
Harry previously said he worries about the “other spares” in the royal family, including the Prince of Wales’s three children.
“At least one will end up like me,” he told The Telegraph’s Byrony Gordon, during an interview about his book which contains several startling revelations about William.
Paxman’s column read: “There are no constitutional implications at all, just a series of moans from a very privileged young man who now says he found the role of ‘spare’ irksome. There is only one thing to say to that: ‘Grow up!’”
In the run-up to the book’s release, leaked extracts from it were published in the UK press – after Spare was accidentally put on sale in Spanish bookshops before the official launch date.
In one excerpt, Harry claimed William physically attacked him during an argument at Nottingham Cottage in 2019. He wrote how his brother allegedly “grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor”. The duke said he landed on a dog’s bowl, which broke under him.
Kensington Palace has denied to comment on any of the allegations in Prince Harry’s book.
Referencing these claims, Paxman said Harry’s issues with the royal family “belong in a soap opera”.
He continued: “Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot to be said for soap operas, the best of which hold up a mirror to life. The tensions between the two brothers are instantly recognisable.
“But the strength of the monarchical system is that it is instantly intelligible to those who live under it simply because we all grow up in families and understand that each contains different individuals who are intelligent, dim, sports-mad or DIY enthusiasts.”
Paxman also said the monarchy is likely to survive the “airing of dirty linen”, as it has in the past, because the monarchy is “hard-wired into the sort of people we are”.
“Once the dust has settled, we shall all see this panto, complete with its attendant bits of interview, for what it is: the anguished exclamation of a not terribly bright young man who got the wrong end of a not very clean stick,” he wrote.
The Independent has reached out to representatives of Prince Harry for comment.
In his interview with The Telegraph, Harry said his memoir isn’t about “trying to collapse the monarchy” but rather “trying to save them from themselves”.