Every Bombshell From Prince Harry’s Memoir Spare

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Prince Harry’s New Memoir BOMBSHELLS

Suffice it to say, Prince Harry didn’t oversell and under-deliver. 

His explosive memoir Spare has landed packed with stories about the royal family and how it felt to grow up—as the spare to the heir, “the shadow, the support, the Plan B”—feeling like a distant second to his older brother, Prince William.

Or “Willy,” as the current Prince of Wales is frequently referred to in the book by “Harold,” which was apparently what Harry’s big brother called him. (And we were just barely over “H” and “M” in Harry & Meghan…)

Eye-opening tidbits from the 416-page book started to trickle out last week, touching on everything from Harry’s past cocaine use (“It wasn’t very fun”) and that time he dressed as a Nazi (not entirely his own decision, he claims) to the aftermath of Princess Diana‘s death (“My father did not hug me”) and the breakdown of his bond with his brother (some years in the making before Harry met Meghan Markle). 

Asked if he was concerned about irreversible fall-out, Harry told journalist Tom Bradby in a Jan. 8 ITV interview, “I’m not sure how honesty is burning bridges. You know, silence only allows the abuser to abuse, right? So, I don’t know how staying silent is ever going to make things better. That’s genuinely what I believe.”

NBC News has reached out to Buckingham Palace, which represents King Charles III, and Kensington Palace, which represents William and Kate Middleton, and both have so far declined to comment on any of Harry’s allegations in the book regarding the royal family’s words or behavior. (E! is a member of the  NBCUniversal family.)

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Harry’s decision to spill his guts in print (with the aid of ghostwriter J.R. Moehringer) isn’t entirely unprecedented—both of his parents scandalized the monarchy by collaborating with respective biographers in the early 1990s. But the royal family is still pretty famous for keeping it all on the inside, and the 38-year-old who flew the coop in 2020 has let it be known that’s not his style.

Stiff upper lips are out, and raw, unbridled candor is in.

Here are all the bombshells Harry dropped in Spare:

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Spare by Prince Harry

For more revelations from Prince Harry, check out his book Spare

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How Charles Broke the News About Princess Diana’s Death

Prince Harry describes the moment his father told him that Princess Diana had been in a devastating car crash, writing that King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, had a difficult time finding the right words.

“‘Mum has been seriously injured and has been taken to hospital, my dear son,'” Harry recalls his dad saying. “He would always call me ‘dear son,’ but he was repeating it a lot. He spoke quietly. It gave me the impression he was in shock.”

He continues: “What I do remember with startling clarity is that I didn’t cry. Not one tear. Pa didn’t hug me.”

Still, Harry writes of Charles, “He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances, how could he be expected to show them in such a crisis? But his hand did fall once more on my knee and he said: It’s going to be OK. That was quite a lot for him. Fatherly, hopeful, kind. And so very untrue.”

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Harry Regrets the Last Conversation He Had With Princess Diana

Harry last spoke to his mother hours before the car crash that took her life on Aug. 31, 1997—but he regretfully remembers being too preoccupied to really sit down and talk.

“I was running around with Willy and my cousins and didn’t want to stop playing,” he writes. “So I’d been short with her. Impatient to get back to my games, I’d rushed Mummy of the phone. I wished I’d apologized for it. I wished I’d searched for the words to describe how much I loved her. I didn’t know that search would take decades.”

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The Long Walk at Diana’s Funeral

Amid differing opinions over whether Harry, still days away from his 13th birthday, and William, 15, should have to walk behind their mother’s coffin in the funeral procession to Westminster Abbey, Harry recalls that they almost split the difference.

“Willy would walk alone. He was fifteen, after all,” Harry writes. “Leave the younger one out of it. Spare the Spare. This alternative plan was sent up the chain. Back came the answer. It must be both princes. To garner sympathy, presumably. Uncle Charles [Spencer, Diana’s brother] was furious. But I wasn’t. I didn’t want Willy to undergo an ordeal like that without me. Had the roles been reversed, he’d never have wanted me—indeed, allowed me—to go it alone.”

And so both brothers walked, with their father, grandfather Prince Philip and their uncle.

“I remember feeling numb,” Harry writes. “I remember clenching my fists. I remember keeping a fraction of Willy always in the corner of my vision and drawing loads of strength from that. Most of all I remember the sounds, the clinking bridles and clopping hooves of the six sweaty brown horses, the squeaking wheels of the gun carriage they were hauling. (A relic from the First World War, someone said, which seemed right, since Mummy, much as she loved peace, often seemed a soldier, whether she was warring against the paps or Pa.) I believe I’ll remember those few sounds for the rest of my life, because they were such a sharp contrast to the otherwise all-encompassing silence.”

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Harry Cried When Diana Was Buried—but He Still Didn’t Believe She Was Dead

Even watching his mum being buried on the grounds of the Spencer family’s Althorp estate couldn’t quite convince Harry of the harsh reality of what was happening.

He remembers “as the flag came off and the coffin descended to the bottom of the hole, that finally broke me. My body convulsed and my chin fell and I began to sob uncontrollably into my hands. I felt ashamed of violating the family ethos, but I couldn’t hold it in any longer.”

“It’s OK, I reassured myself, it’s OK,” Harry writes. “There aren’t any cameras around. Besides, I wasn’t crying because I believed my mother was in that hole. Or in that coffin. I promised myself l’d never believe that, no matter what anyone said. No, I was crying at the mere idea. It would just be so unbearably tragic, I thought, if it was actually true.”

He admitted to Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes that he spent years telling himself that Diana had faked her own death.

“I just refused to accept that she was gone,” Harry said in the Jan. 8 interview. “Part of [it was] she would never do this to us. But also, part of it maybe [felt like] this is all part of a plan. For a time [I believed she was alive] and then she would call us, and we would go and join her.”

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Charles’ Strange Sense of Humor

Apparently Harry’s parentage was the butt of an ongoing family joke—and no one was immune from the unfounded speculation that Diana’s onetime lover James Hewitt was Harry’s real father.

“Pa liked telling stories, and this was one of the best in his repertoire,” Harry writes, alleging his father would make jokes like, “‘Who knows if I’m really the Prince of Wales? Who knows if I’m even your real father? Maybe your real father is in Broadmoor, darling boy!'”

“He’d laugh and laugh,” Harry continues, “though it was a remarkably unfunny joke, given the rumor circulating just then that my actual father was one of Mummy’s former lovers: Major James Hewitt. One cause of this rumor was Major Hewitt’s flaming ginger hair, but another cause was sadism. Tabloid readers were delighted by the idea that the younger child of Prince Charles wasn’t the child of Prince Charles. They couldn’t get enough of this “joke,” for some reason. Maybe it made them feel better about their lives that a young prince’s life was laughable. Never mind that my mother didn’t meet Major Hewitt until long after I was born, the story was simply too good to drop.”

Harry was born in 1984 and Diana’s romance with Hewitt is said to have begun in 1987.

In her own bombshell sit-down with the BBC’s Panorama in 1995, Diana said of the former cavalry officer, “I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But,” when he collaborated on a tell-all book about their affair, Anna Pasternak‘s Princess in Love, “I was very let down.”

Williams Richard/FilmMagic

Harry Took Some Drugs

Tabloid characterizations of Harry as a big partier weren’t exactly incorrect, he admits in Spare.

“Of course I had been taking cocaine at that time,” he writes about his late teenage years. “At someone’s house, during a hunting weekend, I was offered a line, and I’d done a few more since.”

But, he continues, “It wasn’t much fun, and it didn’t make me particularly happy, as it seemed to make everyone around me, but it did make me feel different, and that was the main goal.”

And he denied it at the time when asked by a royal courtier, who’d been advised by a newspaper editor that they had a photo of Harry doing a line.

Harry thought he was trying to get a rise out of his family. “I was a seventeen-year-old willing to try almost anything that would alter the pre-established order,” he writes. “At least, that’s what I was trying to convince myself of.”

He also experimented with psychedelic drugs later in life, which he contends helped him process his lingering trauma, noting that under the right, closely monitored circumstances, hallucinogens can work as a medicine. 

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Harry’s First Time

Harry put his virginity out to pasture during an “inglorious episode” with an unnamed older woman.

“She liked horses, quite a lot, and treated me not unlike a young stallion,” Harry writes of his first time having sex. “Quick ride, after which she’d smacked my rump and sent me to grace. Among the many things about it that were wrong: It happened in a grassy field behind a busy pub.”

Alastair Grant/AP/Shutterstock

Harry’s Shameful Nazi Costume

Harry has said that wearing a Nazi uniform to a “Native and Colonial”-themed costume party when he was 20 was one of the biggest mistakes of his life.

He writes in Spare that, before the January 2005 party, he asked William and Kate Middleton (who were just dating at the time) what he should go as—a pilot or that. And the couple picked that, Harry alleges, and they “howled” with laughter when he tried the offensive outfit on for them.

When he found out he was about to make the papers, “I turned to Willy,” Harry recalls. “He was sympathetic, but there wasn’t much to say. Then I phoned Pa. To my surprise he was serene. At first I was suspicious. I thought maybe he was seeing my crisis as another opportunity to bolster his PR. But he spoke to me with such tenderness, such genuine compassion, that I was disarmed. And grateful. He didn’t gloss over the facts. Darling boy, how could you be so foolish? My cheeks burned. I know, I know. But he quickly went on to say that it was the foolishness of youth, that he remembered being publicly vilified for youthful sins, and it wasn’t fair, because youth is the time when you’re, by definition, unfinished.”

“I am very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone,” Harry said in a statement released by Clarence House after the shameful incident landed the prince on the front page of The Sun (Headline: “Harry the Nazi”). “It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize.”

Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Harry’s recollection of these events.


William and Harry Objected to Their Father’s Second Marriage

Though his initial concerns that she’d be a “wicked stepmother” type proved unfounded, Harry shares that he and William pleaded with their father not to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles ex-girlfriend turned confidante and mistress turned—eventually—publicly acknowledged romantic partner. (And now queen consort.)

“A wedding would cause controversy,” Harry recalls warning his dad at the time. “It would incite the press. It would make the whole country, the whole world, talk about Mummy, compare Mummy and Camilla, and nobody wanted that. Least of all Camilla.”

“We support you, we said. We endorse Camilla, we said. Just please don’t marry her. Just be together, Pa.”

But Charles was determined to marry her, which he did in 2005. And eventually his sons accepted it.

“In spite of Willy and I begging him not to, my father proceeded with his plan,” Harry writes. “We shook him by the hand and wished him all the best without hard feelings. We recognized that he was going to be with the woman he always loved, the woman that fate had in store for him from the beginning.”

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Harry’s Grief Over Diana’s Death Manifests in Different Ways

When Harry was in Paris for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, he asked his driver to take him through the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, the scene of the car crash that resulted in his mother’s death 10 years earlier. Moreover, he wanted to go 65 miles an hour—the same speed Diana’s car was going when her driver lost control and ran into a pillar, Harry explains.

“As the car entered the tunnel I leaned forward, watched the light change to a kind of water orange, watched the concrete pillars flicker past,” he writes. “I counted them, counted my heartbeats, and in a few seconds we emerged from the other side. I sat back. Quietly I said: Is that all of it? It’s…nothing. Just a straight tunnelNo reason anyone should ever die inside it.”

He thought recreating that moment might help him, he recalls, but instead, “it brought on the start of Pain, Part Deux.”

Harry also writes of meeting a woman—once he himself was a dad to son Archie, born in 2019—who claimed to have spiritual powers, and she told him, “‘Your mother says that you are living the life that she couldn’t live, the life she wanted for you.'”


Harry Reveals Wartime Kills

Describing his time serving in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot, Harry writes that he killed 25 Taliban fighters—a revelation that led to a Taliban spokesman accusing the royal of committing war crimes after that anedcote was reported on.

“It wasn’t a statistic that filled me with pride but nor did it make me ashamed,” Harry writes. “When I was plunged into the heat and confusion of battle, I didn’t think about those as 25 people. You can’t kill people if you see them as people. 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.”

The army “trained me to ‘other’ them,” he continues, “and they trained me well.”

Retired British Army Colonel Tim Collins took offense, telling Forces News in response to what Harry relayed in Spare, “That’s not how you behave in the Army; it’s not how we think. He has badly let the side down. We don’t do notches on the rifle butt. We never did.”

Another former colonel, Richard Kemp, who commanded an operation in Afghanistan in 2003, also disagreed with Harry’s characterization of treating enemy forces as “chess pieces” or otherwise less than human. “That’s not the case at all, and that’s not the way the British Army trains people,” Kemp told BBC News, noting that sharing these details “in quite such stark terms now” could “undermine” Harry’s security. 

“It inflames old feelings of revenge that might have been forgotten about,” Kemp said, adding that it was “a shame in many ways because he’s a very brave man who went to Afghanistan voluntarily, had to fight the government policy to get there, and had a fantastic reputation for his courage in action and also for the way he championed wounded soldiers.”

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Harry’s Crowd-Fearing Days

Harry writes that he used to be an agoraphobe—he feared open or public spaces—”which,” he acknowledges, “was nearly impossible given my public role.”

His brother used to mock him, he writes: “After one speech, which couldn’t be avoided or canceled, and during which I’d nearly fainted, Willy came up to me backstage. Laughing. ‘Harold! Look at you! You’re drenched.'”

(For the record, Harry’s full name is Henry Charles Albert David—but Willy’s much-referenced nickname for his little brother was Harold, according to Spare.)


Harry Felt Three Was a Crowd

Though he hoped to one day bring a partner into the mix and make for a fab foursome, Harry sensed William’s marriage to Kate in 2011 marked the end of an era.

“The brother I’d escorted into Westminster Abbey that morning was gone—forever. Who could deny it?” Harry writes. “He’d never again be first and foremost Willy. We’d never again ride together across the Lesotho countryside with capes blowing behind us. We’d never again share a horsey-smelling cottage while learning to fly. Who shall separate us? Life, that’s who.”

Noting that Kate looked “incredible,” he continues, “And I recall Willy walking her back up the aisle, and as they disappeared through the door, into the carriage that would convey them to Buckingham Palace, into the eternal partnership they’d pledged, I recall thinking: ‘Goodbye.'”


Characters Welcome

William and Kate were huge Suits fans, according to Harry, and when he told them he was dating the actress who played paralegal Rachel Zane, they bombarded him with questions. (Well, at first a disbelieving William told him to “f–k off” with such a lie, Harry recalls.)

“All this time I’d thought Willy and Kate might not welcome Meg into the family,” Harry writes. “But now I had to worry about them hounding her for an autograph.”

At the time, though, he gave his brother and sister-in-law a “heavily redacted” version of his burgeoning romance, noting, “I just didn’t want to give away too much.”

Meanwhile, Harry might have wanted to consider a redacted version himself when he decided to catch up with the USA drama.

He writes that he saw one too many steamy scenes between Meghan and co-star Patrick J. Adams. “It would take electric-shock therapy to get those images out of my head,” he laments. (Though it’s all water under the bridge: Patrick was a guest at their wedding.)

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William Tried to Pump the Brakes on Harry’s Engagement

When he told his brother that he planned to propose to Meghan, William warned Harry that the relationship was moving “too fast” and it was “too soon” to get engaged, Harry writes, remaking that William’s tone never failed to make “American actress” sound like “convicted felon.”

Wedding plans got underway regardless, and Harry says William objected to he and Meghan getting married at either Westminster Abbey, the scene of his and Kate’s nuptials, or St. Paul’s Cathedral, where Charles and Diana wed, calling the venues “too grand.”

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Meghan Insisted Harry Go Back to Therapy When His Anger Boiled Over

Harry recalls snapping at Meghan during an argument early on in their relationship, admitting he misunderstood a comment she made.

“Maybe the wine went to my head,” he writes. “Maybe the weeks of battling the press had worn me down. For some reason, when the conversation took an unexpected turn, I became touchy. Then angry. Disproportionately, sloppily angry.”

And Meghan wouldn’t stand for it. She left the room and, about 15 minutes later, he followed her into the bedroom, where she was sitting quietly. He remembers her calmly telling him “that she would never stand for being spoken to like that. I nodded. She wanted to know where it came from.”

The answer was, he couldn’t say. Meghan asked where he learned to speak to a woman like that. “‘Did you overhear adults speak that way when you were growing up?'” he remembers her asking. “I cleared my throat, looked away [and said], ‘Yes.'”

Harry writes that Meghan informed him that “she wasn’t going to raise children in an atmosphere of anger or disrespect. She laid it all out, super-clear.”

She asked if he’d ever been to therapy and he said that he had tried it, at William’s behest, but never found the right therapist and it didn’t work.

“‘No,’ she said softly. ‘Try again.'”

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Tensions Between Meghan and Kate

Harry alleges in Spare that, during a conversation sometime before their wedding, Meghan joked to Kate, who was pregnant with her third child, that she had “baby brain.”

The two couples met for tea about a month after the nuptials, Harry writes, and Kate told Meghan, while gripping her chair so tightly her fingers turned white, “You talked about my hormones. We are not close enough for you to talk about my hormones!”

According to Harry, William also pointed at Meghan and told her that being rude wasn’t the royal way, and she told him, “Take your finger out of my face.”

Kensington Palace declined to comment when asked about this recollection.


William Disappointed Harry the Night Before His Wedding

Harry writes that William tried to get out of going to dinner with him the night before his wedding on May 19, 2018, claiming family obligations. (William did have a 4-week-old baby at home, Prince Louis having been born April 23).

“I’d always believed, despite our problems, that our underlying bond was strong,” Harry writes. “As we drove off, I asked him to come have dinner with me. I mentioned maybe staying the night, as I’d done before his wedding. He’d come for dinner, he said, but wouldn’t be able to stay.”

William did serve as best man (and vice versa back in 2011) and they still looked chummy in photos taken on Harry’s big day.

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William Allegedly Shoved Harry During an Argument

During an argument in 2019 at Nottingham Cottage, Harry and Meghan’s Kensington Palace home, he alleges that William called Meghan “rude,” “difficult” and “abrasive,” and Harry accused his brother of parroting the reigning media narrative about his wife.

William “seemed aggrieved,” Harry writes. “He seemed put upon that I wasn’t meekly obeying him, that I was being so impertinent as to deny him, or defy him, to refute his knowledge, which came from his trusted aides. There was a script here and I had the audacity not to be following it. He was in full Heir mode, and couldn’t fathom why I wasn’t dutifully playing the role of the Spare.”

His brother had also shown up “piping hot,” Harry continues, and both ended up shouting at each other. Harry describes giving William a glass of water, which his brother set down, after which he “called me another name, then came at me. It all happened so fast. So very fast.”

Harry alleges: “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.”

William encouraged him to hit back and, when he refused, William looked regretful and apologized, Spare continues. As he was leaving, William turned and said, “‘You don’t need to tell Meg about this.'”

“‘You mean that you attacked me?'” Harry recalls saying, to which William allegedly replied, “I didn’t attack you, Harold.'”

Harry writes that the first call he made afterward was to his therapist and, though he didn’t immediately tell Meghan, she noticed the cuts on his back and “was terribly sad.” Not long after, it was announced that the Cambridges and Sussexes would no longer be sharing an office

Kensington Palace declined to comment on Harry’s accusation.

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A Frustrating Exchange at Prince Philip’s Funeral

Harry recalls drumming up his nerve to address the elephant in the room with his brother and father after Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021, Harry’s first trip back to England since he and Meghan wrapped up their duties as senior royals in early March 2020.

“For months the Windsors had been at war,” he writes. “There had been strife in our ranks, off and on, going back centuries, but this was different. This was a full scale public rupture, and it threatened to become irreparable.”

Harry continues: “Apart from fear, I was feeling a kind of hyper-awareness, and a hugely intense vulnerability, which I’d experienced at other key moments of my life. Walking behind my mother’s coffin. Going into battle for the first time. Giving a speech in the middle of a panic attack.”

But “Pa and Willy had their parts to play, and they’d come ready for a fight.” Harry remembers Charles telling his sons, “Please, boys—don’t make my final years a misery,” while William insisted he didn’t know why Harry had moved away.

“I thought: I have to tell them,” Harry recalls. “How can I tell them? I can’t. It would take too long. Besides, they’re clearly not in the right frame of mind to listen.”

Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

How Harry Found Out the Queen Had Died

Harry recalls getting the call from his father that the queen wasn’t doing well on Sept. 8, 2022, and he needed to come to Balmoral right away.

Already in the U.K., Harry immediately got on a flight—but found out on the descent into Scotland that he was too late.

Meghan had texted him, “‘Call me when you get this,'” he writes. “I looked at the BBC website. My grandmother had died. My father was King.”

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