Prince Harry’s name has been ubiquitous in the media the last week since details from his hotly anticipated autobiography, Spare, was leaked by The Guardian far ahead of tomorrow’s release, unofficially kicking off a flurry of juicy excerpted stories that centered around Harry’s military service, his thoughts on the death of Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II, and his troubled relationship with other members of the Royal Family.
In perhaps the most widespread quote, which was cited by the BBC, Harry wrote about his two tours in the military fighting in Afghanistan, and revealed that at the time, he did not view the opposition forces as humans. “In truth, you can’t hurt people if you see them as people. They were chess pieces taken off the board, bad guys eliminated before they kill good guys…They trained me to ‘other’ them and they trained me well.”
Harry also claimed to have been involved in the killing of 25 Taliban members across six missions, a disclosure met with criticism by British military leaders for its potential to stoke flames of tension. “His suggestion that he killed 25 people will have re-incited those people who wish him harm,” retired Colonel Richard Kemp said in a Sky News interview. “Let’s hope they don’t succeed and I’m sure he’s got pretty good security, but that’s one problem. Kemp also expressed displeasure at how Harry described the “othering” that British military personnel does of its opposition, saying, “It’s the opposite of the case.”
Spare also addresses the tension between him and his older brother, Prince William. Harry criticizes family members’ reactions in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, and how they were hostile towards his wife Meghan Markle. In an incendiary excerpt quoted by The Guardian, Harry wrote about a physical altercation between himself and his brother, William, that took place in 2019. According to Harry’s book, William insulted Harry’s wife, and a fight escalated in which William “grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor. I landed on the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me. I lay there for a moment, dazed, then got to my feet and told him to get out,” he wrote.
Harry also sat with Anderson Cooper for a lengthy 60 Minutes interview this week, in which the prince admitted that when his mother, Princess Diana, died in 1997 when he was only 12, he did not believe it when told the awful news. “For a long time, I just refused to accept that she was—she was gone,” he said. “Part of, you know, she would never do this to us, but also part of, maybe this is all part of a plan.”
He also admitted later that he still does not feel he has all of the information on what happened to his mother, and that he and William have “considered reopening the inquest,” but are unlikely to do so at this juncture.
“Truth be known, no. I don’t think I do [want to know more],” he said. “And I don’t think my brother does either. I don’t think the world does. Do I need any more than I already know? No. I don’t think it would change much.”
Harry also told 60 Minutes that he was “incredibly naïve” about how Markle’s biracial identity would affect tabloid coverage of the couple and how she was treated within the Royal Family. “I had no idea the British press were so bigoted. Hell, I was probably bigoted before the relationship with Meghan,” he admitted to Cooper.
Though he stressed he has love for the family, Harry also told 60 Minutes that when it comes to mending fences, “The ball is very much in their court, but you know, Meghan and I have continued to say that we will openly apologize for anything that we did wrong … There needs to be a constructive conversation, one that can happen in private that doesn’t get leaked.”
In an interview with the UK’s ITV, Harry talked about his reaction to Queen Elizabeth’s death, for which he made a highly publicized return to the U.K. and spent time at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with his family. He said his grandmother’s death was less emotional than his mother’s, and the Queen’s funeral was less painful “Because our grandmother had finished life. There was more, I think, of a celebration and respect and recognition to what she had accomplished. Whereas our mother was taken away far too young.” . (On60 Minutes, Harry also said that he had not been included in family travel plans made around the Queen’s death due to the tension between them.)
The book’s title and many of its central themes and anecdotes connect to the notion that Harry was the secondary heir (or “spare”) to his older brother William. “Spare” was a term used by their father, King Charles III, but has long standing roots in monarchic traditions. Per The New York Times, despite (or perhaps because of) the unprecedented chaos around it, Spare is poised to be a tremendous commercial hit when it is officially released.