Following the surprise sale of Prince Harry’s memoir book “Spare” by some Spanish booksellers on 5 January, five days before its official launch day, other outlets including press and media in the UK have been revealing large chunks of content that they have been able to obtain.
Already a reported clash with his brother William had been leaked and now other chapters have been put into the public domain early, including details relating to him boasting about his killing of Taliban fighters when serving in Afghanistan, which has drawn massive criticism from within the military, and drug taking as a teenager.
With TV interviews also due to air over the next few days in which more controversial claims will undoubtedly be heard, Harry has certainly made himself and his wife Meghan Markle, major talking points; ironically just what they say they were trying to escape from when they moved across the Atlantic, nearly three years ago.
The one recurring observation that is being offered up by those who have had an early viewing is one of a deeply resentful prince who has struggled to accept his place in the royal family’s pecking order, and who may live to regret being quite so open with his opinions and his interpretation of specific situations.
Buckingham Palace have remained silent, choosing for now at least, to continue with their approach of staying dignified, refusing to be drawn, and getting on with their royal duties.
The pain in Spain
A meticulously planned PR strategy which was to be tightly choreographed for the launch of “Spare”, the tell-all autobiography/memoir of Prince Harry, has been completely wrecked, firstly by the Spanish leak, and now by other various publications releasing their own excerpts. The prince along with his publisher would have been looking for maximum impact on 10 January, but after the initial shock, they probably will feel that the additional early teases will actually help sales.
Some Spanish shops were said to have sold out on Thursday morning when the book titled: En la sombra (In The Shadow instead of Spare) arrived on the shelves, before it was later removed, at least by the big book retail chains, although smaller independent sellers continued to stock it.
Astonishing claim on Taliban killings
An astonishing revelation regarding his time served as an Apache helicopter pilot during missions in Afghanistan against the Taliban, appears to be delivered without any regret or remorse, when he seemingly compares enemy fighters as “chess pieces taken off the board” when claiming to have killed 25 of them, a statistic which whilst not filling him with pride, did not make him feel ashamed either. “They trained me to ‘other’ them and they trained me well”, was how he justified the boast.
Retired officer hits back at “error of judgement”
Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired British Army officer, was quite scathing in his criticism after hearing of Harry’s comments. “It does not reflect reality; it is misleading and potentially valuable for those people who wish the British forces harm… so I think it was a bad error of judgement, and will re-kindle jihadist animosity.”
He went on state that he believed the Prince’s reputation will be tarnished amongst veterans and serving soldiers, and also was critical of the reference to “chess pieces”, pointing out that sort of talk feeds an incorrect narrative of the British Army being callous and cold-hearted killers, which he said was far from the truth.
However, he now believes the Taliban will use the statement to their own advantage, allowing radicalisation of impressionable people, and using it to incite others to carry out revenge attacks.
Servicemen question Harry’s account
Serving soldiers have also condemned the comments with one active serviceman saying that it is almost impossible without access to specific patrol reports, to know precisely how many “kills” were made by individuals, and was quick to add that the vast majority of soldiers were not interested in keeping count, and to do so was “very unsoldier-like”, before making the point that “more often it is those who write books who seem to take more of an interest in their kill statistics.”
Ben McBean, who flew with Harry many times, questioned the people the Prince was now “hanging around with”, and said that the royal needed to “shut up”.
MP’s slam the prince for destructive passage
Bob Stewart a Conservative MP and a former commander of British troops in Bosnia slammed Harry for “highly distasteful” remarks, before questioning the Duke’s motives: “Real soldiers tend to shy away… people I know do not boast about such things; they rather regret that they have had to do it.” He continued to say how sad it was that somebody with all the advantages and privileges in life that Harry had, was so intent on destroying himself and the monarchy.
Lord Hutton the former Defence Secretary said it was a very serious mistake for someone who has held the positions of authority and responsibility that he has previously occupied to make, and believed it “diminishes him”. He went on to exclaim how inappropriate it was believing that there was a “sense of bravado about it, which I think most people who have served in the armed forces will recoil from.”
Taliban challenge Harry to return
Taliban deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi was quick to remind Western countries that they consider themselves to be supporters of human rights, but these comments proved otherwise. “This confession shows that the forces of all occupying countries have the same criminal stories,” he said with an air of menace.
Taliban commander Molavi Gol, was keen to remind Harry they were still ruling and accused the prince of being an “attention-seeking big mouth loser” and challenged him to come to Afghanistan again if “he is a real man and not a loser.”
Security fears heightened after revelation
Fears will now resurface for Harry and his family’s personal safety. He has long been regarded as a terrorist target due to his royal status and military links, so this will serve as an escalation. Plus it comes amid an ongoing legal battle with the Home Office over its provision of full police protection for the Sussex’s.
Admission to taking drugs
There are seemingly passages in the book which tell of how Harry admits to taking drugs when he was younger, including cocaine, marijuana and magic mushrooms. Those who have seen the book claim he writes that he took a line of cocaine at someone’s house when he was a 17-years-old and confesses to taking the drug on several other occasions too.
He tells of using “Psychedelic drugs” as a form of therapy, claiming that they allowed him to see “another world beyond my very limited sensory perception”, going on to somewhat bizarrely reflect that many philosophers say that “our daily life is an illusion”.
Personal stories shockingly divulged
He also recounts the night that he lost his virginity to an older woman. He seemingly recalls it as a “humiliating episode” which took place in a field behind a pub and that the woman in question, who he cryptically suggests “really liked horses”, treated him like a “young stallion”.
There is also mention of the huge controversy which blew up after he foolishly decided it would be a good idea to wear a Nazi uniform at a Halloween fancy dress party, back in 2005. He actually claims now that William and Kate encouraged him to wear it and laughed at his appearance.
Diana “guiding” Harry
As expected there is constant reference to his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, and he tells of a time when he was in his early 20’s, when he got his driver to replicate her fatal last journey through the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, where she met her death in a horrific crash in 1997, when Harry was 12-years-old. He apparently hoped the drive would bring him some form of closure, but it had the opposite effect.
He speaks of a meeting with a psychic who told him that Diana approved of his new life in the US. He is quoted as saying she told him: “Your mother says that you are living the life that she couldn’t live.” There is also mention of a conversation he had with Prince William about how he feels their mother guided him towards Meghan, to which his brother reacted with: “Well, Harold, I’m not so sure; I wouldn’t say that.”
It is easy to imagine that the then Duke of Cambridge, would already be beginning to have some doubts about his sibling’s developing relationship.
Just normal brotherly rivalry
William of course features throughout the book with Harry referring to the new Prince of Wales as his “beloved” big brother and his “arch-nemesis”, and claiming they were “surprisingly competitive” failing to appreciate those feelings were just brotherly instincts replicated the world over.
He speaks of losing trust, but once again seemingly not recognising it is a two-way thing and conveniently ignoring his dereliction of William’s trust in his worrying outbursts over the past few years, culminating in the revelations coming out of his book.
No decision on coronation attendance
His lack of respect for his “former” family is highlighted by his insistence that he has not yet decided if he will attend his father’s coronation in May of this year, choosing instead to put “the ball in their court”.
He says there is a “lot to be discussed” and he hopes that they will be willing to “sit down and talk”, which seems from the outside looking in, to be something that has little prospect of happening any time soon. Indeed, if anything, Harry has probably made such a meeting less likely than ever.
There is also a passage in the book which suggests both brothers begged their father, King Charles III, not to marry Camilla, now the Queen Consort, claiming that they had fears she would become their wicked stepmother, although there is no detail given on when this occurred, or how old the boys were at the time.
Sadness for Diana collaborator
Andrew Morton, who 30 years ago collaborated with Princess Diana, on the book Diana: Her True Story, spoke of his sadness at the latest publication and how he suspects Prince Harry will face a “huge backlash”.
He continued to say how the current friction between William and Harry is not the future their mother would have wanted and made the observation that Diana always wanted Harry to be a “backup” to William. “She wanted Harry to be William’s wingman, not as we have seen his hitman,” was his clever reflection on proceedings.
Royal writers hit out at Harry
Royal author Tina Brown, feels it will be years before the Duke of Sussex reconciles with his family. “I think that this has been a very painful passage and Harry has turned into human hand grenade.”
Katie Nicholl, who is Vanity Fair’s royal correspondent, felt that Harry was under some pressure to make some startling revelations because of the huge sums of money at play in the multi-million dollar book advance. “In short he has sold out”, was her rather blunt take on things.
Little early support from the general public
Some of the remarks coming out from the general public were just as cutting, with Harry being accused of being amongst others: a “maverick”, a “spoilt brat”, and “indulged”. Others suggested the book as nothing more than an “attention grabbing exercise”, with one member of the public going as far as to say it seemed as if Harry had thrown out a massive amount of invitations for a “pity party”.
Huge sums of cash
Katie Nicholl’s thoughts might seem a little cynical, but the amounts of money said to be involved are eye-watering. Although no figure has been officially confirmed, publisher Penguin Random House is rumoured to have paid Harry a $20m (£17m) advance for Spare. When the book hits the UK market, it will cost £28 for a hardback, and £20 for the audio version. The couple are also thought to have signed up to write a further three books with the publisher.
El tiempo lo cura todo – not this time?
Until the book has been properly read by everyone it is difficult to make a proper assessment, but there does seem to be a troubled individual at the centre of it. From just the snippets that have come out there does seem to be huge gaps in logical thinking, coupled with a lot of irrational comments, but on actual reading they may become more connected.
One thing is certain, this book seems to be even more controversial than it always appeared destined to be, and maybe on this occasion and returning to the Spanish involvement, the country’s well known phrase: “El tiempo lo cura todo” – “time heals everything”, will not turn out to be factual under these circumstances.