Prince Harry has accused his brother of physically attacking him in his new memoir, which reveals a wide range of private conversations between him and other senior British royals and details his split from the family, according to media outlets who said they had obtained early copies of the book.
Perhaps the most dramatic revelation to emerge Thursday was the accusation from the Duke of Sussex of an altercation with Prince William during an argument over his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in 2019, first reported by The Guardian.
CNN has not seen a copy of the book but has requested an advance copy of the book from publisher Penguin Random House before its release on January 10. Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace and a spokesperson for the Sussexes declined CNN’s request for comment on the alleged altercation.
Here are the top lines of what is being reported so far:
Harry says William pushed him to the floor
The Guardian claims to have seen an advance copy of Harry’s highly anticipated memoir, “Spare,” in which the duke reportedly alleges William, the Prince of Wales, knocked him to the floor during the altercation.
The alleged scuffle took place after a conversation between the two brothers, during which William, the heir to the British throne, called Meghan “difficult,” “rude” and “abrasive,” according to The Guardian.
The confrontation escalated until William “grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and … knocked me to the floor,” the newspaper reported.
The article focuses on the alleged physical altercation between the brothers but describes the entirety of the book as a “remarkable volume.”
The story reports Harry’s version of events, in which William arrives at Harry and Meghan’s then-home, Nottingham Cottage on Kensington Palace grounds in London, to allegedly discuss “‘the whole rolling catastrophe’ of their relationship and struggles with the press.”
Harry alleges that William attacked him after he gave his elder brother water and attempted to cool a heated verbal exchange, according to The Guardian.
The article quotes Harry: “He set down the water, called me another name, then came at me. It all happened so fast. So very fast. He 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.”
The article says Harry states in the book that William urged him to hit back, but he refused to do so. William left but later returned “looking regretful” and apologized, according to the Guardian article, quoting the book.
Harry recalls Charles’ plea
Elsewhere in the Guardian report, the 38-year-old recalls returning to the UK for the first time since stepping back as a senior royal in April 2021 for the funeral of the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip.
The somber occasion was the first time the duke was reunited with his father, now King Charles III, and William since he and Meghan had spoken to Oprah Winfrey for their bombshell interview.
Harry’s retelling suggests tensions with William remained high and quotes Charles pleading to his sons not to “make my final years a misery,” according to the Guardian article.
The article also revealed the brothers refer to each other as “Willy” and “Harold” respectively.
Other UK tabloid newspapers are also now claiming to have obtained a Spanish-language copy of “Spare,” after it was mistakenly made available in some bookstores in Spain on Thursday ahead of its scheduled release next week. In Spain, the book is called “En La Sombra,” which translates to “In the Shadow.”
Concern over Camilla
According to additional reports from the Mail Online and The Sun, another anecdote from the book recounts how Harry reportedly “begged” his father not to marry Camilla, who is now Queen Consort, and feared that she would be a “wicked stepmother.”
The Mail Online and The Sun reports say Harry recalled that he and William said they would welcome Camilla into the family, but asked their father not to marry her, calling Camilla the “other woman.”
Quoting from the copy of the book, the Mail Online reported that Harry wrote, “I remember wondering… if she would be cruel to me; if she would be like all the evil stepmothers in the stories,” adding, “Willy had been suspicious of the Other Woman for a long time, which confused and tormented him; When those suspicions were confirmed, he felt agonizing remorse for not having done or said anything before.”
He also compares meeting her for the first time to getting an injection, writing in the book, “close your eyes and you won’t even feel it,” according to the two outlets.
The two UK tabloids reported that the book also claims King Charles tried to “win over the kids” before asking the British public to accept his marriage to Camilla and that she held a private audience with Harry in which she appeared “bored.”
Prince Harry also wrote that he was too young to suspect his father’s affair, but noted that his brother “harbored suspicions” for a long time, according to The Sun report. “It would confuse him and torment him… When they were confirmed he felt awful remorse for not having said or done anything sooner,” Prince Harry wrote, according to The Sun. The royal added in the book that as a child he felt “the lack of stability, absence of love and affection in our home.”
The stories reported by the Mail Online and The Sun are based on the tabloids’ own translations of the Spanish-language version of the book.
The highly anticipated memoir also reportedly begins with the dedication, “For Meg, Archie and Lili… and, of course, my mother,” according to the Mail Online and the Sun.
Deaths in Afghanistan
The British newspaper the Telegraph reports that Prince Harry claims to have killed 25 people while serving with the British army in Afghanistan, saying that in the heat of combat he viewed his targets as “chess pieces” rather than people.
The Telegraph said it obtained a copy of the Spanish version of the book ahead of its official release.
The Prince completed two tours of Afghanistan, one spanning 2007 to 2008 and the other from 2012 to 2013.
He wrote that in combat he did not consider the 25 individuals he killed as individuals but rather as “chess pieces” that had been taken off the board.
Advancements of technology “in the era of Apaches and laptops,” allowed Harry to say “with exactness how many enemy combatants I had killed,” adding that, “it seemed to me essential not to be afraid of that number.”
“So my number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me,” he said, according to the Telegraph.
Harry also said he used to watch back footage of each “kill” after returning to base, from the nose mounted camera on his Apache helicopter, the Telegraph reported, and that in the “din and confusion of combat” he viewed those he killed as the “baddies eliminated before they could kill goodies.”
Harry admits teenage drug use
Harry, who now resides in California with Meghan and their two children, also admits taking cocaine at age 17, according to Sky News.
According to the UK media outlet, which is also now claiming to have obtained a leaked copy, Harry writes: “Of course I had been taking cocaine at that time. At someone’s house, during a hunting weekend, I was offered a line, and since then I had consumed some more,” Sky News reported.
“It wasn’t very fun, and it didn’t make me feel especially happy as seemed to happen to others, but it did make me feel different, and that was my main objective. To feel. To be different,” Prince Harry wrote, according to Sky. “I was a seventeen-year-old willing to try almost anything that would alter the pre-established order… At least, that’s what I was trying to convince myself of.”
Prince Harry has previously admitted to drug use in his youth. In 2002, when he was a 16-year-old schoolboy, he faced accusations of underage drinking and cannabis use, CNN previously reported. A confession of heavy drinking and marijuana use when he was 16 prompted his father to send him to the drug rehab center, Phoenix House UK, for a day.
PR blitz ahead
Prince Harry is expected to reveal more detail about his ongoing rift with the royal family after sitting down for multiple television interviews set to broadcast in the coming days.
Teasing a one-on-one with the royal due to air in full on Monday, “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan revealed Harry describes William in the book as his “arch-nemesis.”
In a snippet from the upcoming interview, Strahan asks: “There’s a quote in this book where your refer to your brother as your ‘beloved brother and arch-nemesis.’ Strong words. What did you mean by that?”
Harry can be seen nodding before responding, “There’s always been this competition between us, weirdly. I think it really plays into or always played by the “heir/spare.”
Strahan later told his “Good Morning America” co-anchors that he read Prince Harry’s whole book, adding that readers will be “amazed at how open he is” and that it will “drop a lot of jaws.”
Separately, the duke has also conducted interviews with Anderson Cooper for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and Tom Bradby from British network ITV, both of which will be broadcast on Sunday.
In the latest preview clip of the ITV sit-down released Thursday, Harry says he “still believe[s] in the monarchy” but when asked if he anticipates playing a part in its future, he replies, “I don’t know.”
Harry also wouldn’t be drawn on whether his family will return to the UK in May for his father’s coronation.
“There’s a lot that can happen between now and then,” Harry says in the short clip. “But, the door is always open. The ball is in their court. There’s a lot to be discussed and I really hope that they’re willing to sit down and talk about it.”
Elsewhere in the one-minute promo clip, Harry again makes the suggestion that Buckingham Palace planted negative media reports.
Responding to Bradby’s suggestion some people will accuse him of invading the family’s privacy without permission, Harry says, “That would be the accusation from the people that don’t understand or don’t want to believe that my family have been briefing the press.
“I don’t know how staying silent is ever going to make things better,” Prince Harry says.
Since their wedding in 2018, Harry and Meghan’s relationship has been under intense media scrutiny, with particular focus placed on the Duchess of Sussex.
In a recent Netflix documentary, Harry blamed the media for placing undue stress on Meghan, leading to her having a miscarriage and suffering suicidal thoughts.
The couple said the unrelenting media coverage ultimately led them to quit working as members of the Royal family.
Harry admitted in the six-part documentary that he didn’t deal with Meghan’s deteriorating mental health “particularly well” at first.
“I knew she was struggling; we were both struggling, but I never thought it would get to that stage. The fact it got to that stage I felt angry and ashamed,” Harry recounted, adding: “I dealt with it as institutional Harry as opposed to husband Harry.”
Meghan said she wanted to go somewhere for help but claimed she wasn’t allowed to because of concerns about how it would look for the institution, without specifying who she believes stopped her. She made similar comments in her explosive 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.