Ahead of the publication of his memoir, Spare, the Duke of Sussex sat down with ITV journalist Tom Bradby to discuss the shattering revelations it contains, and what drove him to commit his story to paper. Below, the biggest talking points from Prince Harry’s no-holds-barred interview.
Prince Harry recalled the night he learned of his mother’s tragic death in haunting detail
The interview opened with audio of Prince Harry reading an excerpt from his memoir, in which he recounts his father, then the Prince of Wales, coming into his room at Balmoral to break the news of his mother’s death in 1997. Harry told Tom Bradby he now, as a parent himself, feels tremendous compassion for his father having to tell his young sons their mother was gone. “I never want to be in that position,” he said. “It’s part of the reason we’re here now. I don’t want history to repeat itself. I don’t want to be a single dad. I certainly don’t want my children to have a life without a mother or a father.”
He demanded to see the secret government file containing photographs of the scene of Princess Diana’s accident in Paris
In Spare, Prince Harry describes his initial confusion over the lights he could see in photographs of the scene, before it dawned that they were the flashes of paparazzi cameras. “The color of the lights was the same color as her hair, golden. I didn’t know what the lights were, I couldn’t imagine… as I realized their true origin my stomach clenched.”
Asked why he wanted to see the file, Harry said: “I was looking for evidence that it [my mother’s death] actually happened, that it was true. But I was also looking for something to hurt. Because at that point I was still pretty numb.”
The “fab four” was always a myth
Bradby put it to Prince Harry that, when he introduced his new girlfriend Meghan Markle to his brother and his sister-in-law, “from the get-go, they don’t get on. Fair?” To which Harry replied: “Yeah, fair.” Asked why, he said: “Lots of reasons.” Harry said he had “put a lot of faith in the idea” that when he found someone to settle down with, he and his partner would naturally become a foursome with William and Kate, and that it would “bring me and my brother closer together”. It was not to be. “I don’t think they were expecting me to get into a relationship with someone like Meghan,” said Harry, who pointed to “stereotyping” as part of the problem, alluding to preconceptions due to the fact his future wife was an American actress, divorced and biracial. “That stereotyping was causing a bit of a barrier,” he said.
Harry says therapy is the only reason he didn’t retaliate when William knocked him to the ground in a furious encounter at Nottingham Cottage
Spare contains Harry’s already infamous account of a physical altercation with his brother at Nottingham Cottage, in which William knocked him to the floor and he landed on the dog bowl, which shattered under his weight. “William and I used to fight all the time,” Harry told Bradby. “The difference was we were kids. What was different here was this level of frustration,” said the Duke, who described a “red mist” in his older brother. “I can pretty much guarantee today that if I wasn’t doing therapy sessions like I was… that I would have fought back, one hundred per cent. But I didn’t because I was in a more comfortable place with my own anger. He wanted me to hit him back, but I chose not to.”
The book details a heartbreaking exchange between the two princes at their grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
Viewers heard an audio excerpt of Harry recalling being reunited with his estranged brother at their grandfather’s funeral in April 2021, around a year after he and Meghan had stepped down from their roles as senior royals and moved permanently to the US. The Duke recounts William’s desperate effort to engage him: “Harold you must listen to me. I just want you to be happy I swear—I swear on mummy’s life.” This, Harry explains in Spare, was the brothers’ “secret code, the universal password”, reserved for use only in “times of extreme crisis”. “It stopped me cold, as it was meant to,” he writes. “Not because he had used it, but because it didn’t work.”
Prince Harry said he doesn’t believe either his father or his brother will read his memoir, but said: “I really hope they do.” Asked how he justifies sharing the details of private family exchanges, the Duke said: “For the last six years, the level of planting and leaking [of stories to the press] from other members of the family… in my mind they have written countless books.”
Harry addressed the fallout that followed the release of Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan
The Prince touched on the media response to Harry & Meghan, and said he felt “the way the British press is showing itself at the moment is incredibly damaging to the UK”. Harry referenced a widely criticized column by Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun, in which Clarkson described dreaming about Meghan being paraded through the streets and being publicly shamed. Clarkson was forced to apologize following thousands of complaints from readers. “What he said was horrific, hurtful and cruel towards my wife, but it also encourages other people around the UK and around the world to… think it’s acceptable to treat women that way,” said Harry, who has repeatedly railed against what he views as the palace’s failure to come to the defense of his wife when she was being attacked in the press. “To use my stepmother’s words, there is a global pandemic of violence against women. The world is asking for some form of comment from the monarchy, but the silence is deafening, to put it mildly.”
He maintains reconciliation is the goal
Prince Harry reiterated his love for his father and his brother multiple times during the interview, as well as his love for his sister-in-law, Kate. “I love my father, I love my brother, I love my family,” he said. “Nothing of what I’ve done in this book or otherwise has ever been with any intention of harm to them.” But, he went on, “Certain members of the family got into bed with the devil to rehabilitate their image. [The] moment that comes at the detriment of others—me, or other members of my family, that’s where I draw the line.”
Later in the interview, Prince Harry said of his family: “At the moment, I don’t recognize them, as much as they probably don’t recognize me.” The Duke said he had managed to make peace with a lot of the events of the past, before adding: “That doesn’t mean I’m going to let it go.” Reconciliation, he said, would not only “be wonderful for us, but it would be fantastic for them as well”.
Harry praised the December meeting held at Buckingham Palace between charity leader Ngozi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey, the late Queen’s senior lady-in-waiting, following an incident at a palace reception in November. Lady Hussey apologized and resigned after it emerged she had asked Fulani where she “really came from.” “I’m very happy for her [Lady Hussey] to be invited into the palace and to reconcile,” Harry said. “Meghan and I love Susan Hussey, we think she’s great. She never meant any harm at all. But the response [suffered by Fulani] was horrendous.”
Harry maintained his attempts to contact his family to arrange a conversation had been rebuffed, and said, “the ball is in their court”.
Prince Harry has never been happier
Harry insisted he was not stuck in the past, explaining that the Netflix documentary and his memoir were “look-back projects”. “They were necessary, they were essential for historic fact and significance,” he said, adding that the process of revisiting the past had been painful but cathartic at times. “There’s a lot of relief now that both these projects are complete, and now we can focus on looking forward.”
The Duke, who described himself as being “in a better place than I’ve ever been,” went on: “I’ve got two beautiful kids and an amazing wife. The happiness in my family now, I have never felt anywhere else before.”
This article was originally published on Vogue.co.uk