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Certain members of the British royal family may well have been avoiding the television on Sunday.
Following a week of unprecedented and hugely damaging revelations taken from Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare — which accidentally went on sale early — a series of much-hyped interviews with the Duke of Sussex ahead of the book’s official launch Tuesday began airing, with the prospect of his now very public rift with his family becoming even wider.
“I don’t know how staying silent is ever going to make things better,” Harry told Tom Bradby of Britain’s ITV, the first of the scheduled interviews to air.
In the early moments of the 90-minute talk in L.A., Harry said that his family had shown “absolutely no willingness to reconcile” and that he’d spent the last six years trying to get through to them, through conversations, letters and emails. “The saddest thing is that it never needed to be this way,” he said on this growing separation culminating with him deciding to open up about his grievances publicly.
Discussing the “sibling rivalry” with his brother, Harry claimed that he had been on “different paths” with William since the death of their mother, Princess Diana. He also asserted that Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle didn’t get on from the start. “I thought the four of us would bring me and William together … but I don’t think they ever expected me to get into a relationship with someone like Meghan, who had a very successful career.”
Harry said that much of his family were reading the press — going so far as to accuse Queen Camilla of leaking private conversations to the papers — and that they were “living in the tabloid bubble rather than the reality.” He added that his brother and sister-in-law were swayed by what was being written about Markle and the stereotypes of her being an “American actress, divorcée, biracial.” He later said it soon became “Meghan versus Kate,” with Middleton threatened by a “new kid on the block stealing the limelight.”
Harry asserted that his brother’s team spent years “trashing” his and Markle’s image in the media and that their eventual decision to leave for the U.S. was spun into a false narrative that they were doing so simply to make money. “We were dedicated to a life of service,” he said.
One narrative he refuted was that he and Markle had accused the royal family of racism in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, asserting that it was the British press that had explicitly claimed this and the couple were merely referring to “unconscious bias,” not racism.
Despite everything said and done and the damning details in both the book and interview, Harry said he was “100 percent” confident of reconciliation with his family, but said it could only happen if the “chief antagonist” that had created the divide — the British tabloid press — had nothing to do with it.
“I hope that reconciliation between my family and us will have a ripple effect across the entire world,” he added.
Speaking to Anderson Cooper for CBS’ 60 Minutes: Prince Harry Interview — the first with the royal in the U.S. about Spare — Harry explained that he was now speaking publicly because “every single time I’ve tried to do it privately there have been briefings and leakings and planting of stories against me and my wife.” In a clip released before the hourlong TV special aired, Harry claimed that journalists had previously been “spoon-fed information” by Buckingham Palace, which would then refuse to put out a statement to protect him and Meghan Markle. “There becomes a point when silence is betrayal.”
Harry also detailed what he felt when his mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997, and the days and years that followed. He explained to Cooper that after his father told him the tragic news, he struggled to cope and process what happened. “For a long time, I just refused to accept that she was — she was gone,” Harry said. “Part of, you know, she would never do this to us, but also part of, maybe this is all part of a plan.”
Trying to grieve, Harry said he relied on alcohol, drugs and psychedelics. Years later, at the age of 20, he said he saw the police report and some photos from the crash to try and make sense of it all. Harry still held on to hope that his mother might be alive until he visited Paris at 23 and had his driver go through the tunnel his mother died in, saying, “I need to take this journey. I need to ride the same route.”
Harry added that he and his brother were not happy with the results of a 2006 police investigation into the crash and considered reopening the case “because there were so many gaps and so many holes in it. Which just didn’t add up and didn’t make sense.” They never followed through with it.
In 2022, before Queen Elizabeth II died, Harry told Cooper that his family didn’t include him in travel plans to go see her. At the time, Harry was in London for a charity event when it was announced that the queen was under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
“I asked my brother — I said, ‘What are your plans? How are you and Kate getting up there?’ And then, a couple of hours later, you know, all of the family members that live within the Windsor and Ascot area were jumping on a plane together,” he told Cooper. “A plane with 12, 14, maybe 16 seats.” Harry said he was not invited and that the queen had died by the time he got to Balmoral Castle.
A third interview — with Michael Strahan for Good Morning America — will be broadcast Jan. 9. In a teaser clip released by ABC News on Sunday night, Strahan asked Harry if he ever saw himself returning to his role as a working royal.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to be possible,” Harry replied. “I don’t think that, you know, even if there was an agreement or an arrangement between me and my family, there is a third party [the tabloid press] that is going to do everything they can to make sure that isn’t possible. Not stopping us from going back, but making it unsurvivable.”
The TV appearances come after several days of extremely personal claims and incidents of family discord being reported from early readings of Spare. Alongside describing how he lost his virginity (reportedly in a field behind a pub to an “older lady” when he was 17), Harry also described various episodes of drug-taking, including reportedly trying magic mushrooms at a party held at the home of Courteney Cox. In a passage that sparked widespread criticism, Harry said that, as an Apache helicopter co-pilot in Afghanistan, he killed 25 Taliban soldiers, a claim that military veterans said could increase his personal security risk.
However, the most incendiary revelation, which led to front-page headlines across the U.K. and around the world, involved the alleged 2019 fight with William, who he alleges called Markle “difficult,” “rude” and “abrasive,” resulting in a scuffle that saw Harry being “knocked to the floor,” where he landed “on top of the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces of it cutting into me.”
The details from Spare come just weeks after Netflix’s Harry & Meghan docuseries, in which the prince first took aim at the royal family with accusations that William’s team had offered up stories about the Sussexes to the British press in order to distract from negative attention the then-Cambridges were receiving.
So far there has been no official comment from Buckingham Palace.
Carly Thomas contributed to this report.
Jan. 9, 4:20 a.m. Updated to include ITV interview ratings.
9:50 p.m. Updated with quotes from the GMA interview.
Jan. 8, 6:15 p.m. Updated with quotes from the 60 Minutes interview.
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