Prince Harry has not held back in his candid memoir Spare, which finally went on sale this week after copies leaked early.
The ghostwritten autobiography has become the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever after hitting shelves on Tuesday, as the Duke of Sussex chronicles everything from family strife to personal trauma.
Many of the most notable extracts were plastered across news sites and front pages in the days leading up to its official release, thanks to a series of leaks and the 416-page tome being accidentally released early in Spain.
Speaking to ITV in the UK, as well as CBS’s 60 Minutes, The Late Show and ABC’s Good Morning America in the United States, the duke appeared concerned hit back at the backlash.
‘Boasting’ about Taliban kills
Among the passages that have attracted most attention is Harry’s statement he killed 25 Taliban fighters during his military service in Afghanistan, where he served as an Apache helicopter pilot.
The prince writes that his “number” is not one “that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me”, and recalled viewing his adversaries at the time as “chess pieces” to be taken off the board – or “baddies eliminated before they could kill goodies”.
Harry’s decision to publicise both a kill count and the way in which he viewed enemy combatants following training by the British Army, was criticised in military circles – previously a well of support for the prince.
He has been accused of potentially putting his family and British soldiers at greater risk of reprisals, with the Taliban.
But speaking to Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, the 38-year-old denied that the passage amounted to boasting and further claimed his memoir had fallen foul of “very dangerous spin”.
“Without a doubt, the most dangerous lie that they have told is that I somehow boasted about the number of people that I killed in Afghanistan,” he told The Late Show, adding: “If I heard anyone boasting about that kind of thing, I would be angry. But it’s a lie.
“Hopefully now that the book is out, people will be able to see the context, and it’s really troubling and very disturbing that they can get away with it,” he continued. “My words are not dangerous, but the spin of my words are very dangerous.
“I made a choice to share it because having spent nearly two decades working with veterans all around the world, I think the most important thing is to be honest and to give space to others to be able to share their experiences without any shame.”
Royal racism - or ‘unconscious bias’?
Following their relocation to California, Harry and Meghan made global headlines during their interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Most notably they made the allegation there had been conversations within the palace about how dark the colour of their baby’s skin would be – widely interpreted as a charge of racism against an unnamed royal.
But when ITV’s Tom Bradby raised that Meghan had accused the royal family of racism, Harry interjected: “No. The British press said that, right? Did Meghan ever mention ‘they’re racists’?”
Pressed on his wife’s remarks to Oprah in March 2021, the duke added: “Yeah, there were concerns about his skin colour”. Asked whether he would not describe that as “essentially racist”, Harry said: “I wouldn’t. Not having lived within that family.
“Going back to the difference between what my understanding is, because of my own experience, the difference between racism and unconscious bias – the two things are different.”
The allegation was made after Oprah asked Meghan – in a question she admitted was “loaded” – whether she believed the royal family hadn’t wanted their son Archie to be a prince “because of his race”, to which the duchess replied: “But I can give you an honest answer.
“In those months when I was pregnant ... we have in tandem the conversation of, ‘He won’t be given security. He’s not going to be given a title’, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”
Telling an incredulous Oprah that “there were several conversations about it”, the duchess said that she would not reveal who had made the remarks, on the grounds that: “I think that would be very damaging to them.”
Critics have claimed that the apparent dialling back of the allegation “allowed his family to be hung out to dry on an accusation of racism”.
In an interview, royal commentator Jennie Bond noted that “much of what he said seemed conflicted and contradictory”.
‘Complex’ feelings for Camilla
Harry has described his feelings towards Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Queen Consort, as “complex”, and this is evident in the depictions of their relationship which he has given in recent days.
Writing in Spare about Camilla’s road to marrying his father King Charles, the duke describes his stepmother as “dangerous” and “playing the long game” in a “campaign aimed at marriage, and eventually the crown”.
“I had complex feelings about gaining a stepparent, who I thought had recently sacrificed me on her personal PR altar,” he writes.
Asked during the 60 Minutes interview, broadcast on Sunday, why he viewed Camilla as “dangerous”, Harry said: “The need for her to rehabilitate her image … that made her dangerous because of the connections that she was forging within the British press.
“And there was open willingness on both sides to trade information and with a family built on hierarchy, and with her on the way to being Queen Consort, there was going to be people or bodies left in the street because of that.”
Describing the narrative surrounding Camilla at the time, following the death of his mother Princess Diana, Harry added: “She was the villain, she was a third person in the marriage, she needed to rehabilitate her image.”
But despite the strong allegations he has made against her, in another interview Harry claimed he still “loves” the Queen Consort and adopted a more conciliatory tone.
On Good Morning America, Harry said he had “huge amount of compassion” for Camilla, being “the third person in my parents’ marriage”.
“And she had a reputation, or an image, to rehabilitate,” he said. “Whatever conversations happened, whatever deals or trading was made right at the beginning, she was led to believe that that would be the best way of doing it.
“And I don't have a problem with any member of my family needing to rehabilitate their image, but if that rehabilitation or that relationship with, in this case, the British tabloids, comes at the cost of my girlfriend or my family – my close family or my larger family – then I draw a line at that.”
As for his relationship with Camilla now, the duke said that he and his stepmother haven’t spoken “for a long time,” but that he “loves” every member of his family despite their differences.
“So, when I see her, we’re perfectly pleasant with each other, she’s my stepmother,” Harry said, adding that he views her not as an “evil stepmother”, but as “someone who married into this institution and has done everything she can to improve her own reputation and her own image for her own sake”.