Prince Harry Says He’s Seeking Accountability From Royal Family With Memoir ‘Spare’
Following up on Sunday’s televised interviews for ITV and CBS’ 60 Minutes, the royal’s sit-down with co-host Michael Strahan focused on his strained relationship with his family and why he wrote the book.
“I don’t think that we can ever have peace with my family unless the truth is out there. There’s a lot that I can forgive, but there needs to be conversations in order for reconciliation, and part of that has to be accountability,” said Harry.
Later adding, “The only way that I can protect us and the only way that I can correct those mistruths is by writing something, the truth, in one place. And I fully accept that writing a book is feeding the beast anyway.”
Harry explained the title of his memoir as a label that had been “used against him,” noting that brother William is the heir and Harry, the “spare” to the royal throne. Of the reference to his brother being his “arch nemesis” in the book, Harry said the heir-spare labels and the British press helped to create that competition between the brothers.
Harry noted the stories around the alleged feuding between the brothers’ wives, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, over the bridesmaid dresses, as well as the many stories of Markle allegedly making members of the royal family cry as prime examples of the U.K. press splitting the brothers. Harry also places blame on his father, King Charles, and stepmom, the new Queen, Camilla, for the strained relationship.
“I think she’d be sad,” Harry said when asked how he thinks his late mother, Princess Diana, would feel about the state of her sons’ relationship. “I think she would be heartbroken that it’s ended up where it’s ended up. I think she’d be heartbroken about the fact that William, his office were part of these stories.”
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 British 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.”
But he noted that he can’t ever completely “get out” of the family: “There’s no version of me ever being able to get out of this.”
When speaking to Anderson Cooper for CBS’ 60 Minutes: Prince Harry Interview, Harry said he was continuing to speak out 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.”
“I don’t know how staying silent is ever going to make things better,” he echoed to Tom Bradby for Britain’s ITV, noting that his family had shown “absolutely no willingness to reconcile” despite Harry trying to get through to them, through conversations, letters and emails.
Spare, which accidentally went on sale early in Spain, has generated days-worth of headlines about the revelations revealed by the Duke of Sussex. In the book, Prince Harry discussed his grieving process around the death of his mother Princess Diana, including how he coped by using drugs and how he and Prince William held onto doubts around her death for years; he spoke about his “sibling rivalry” with Prince William that began after Diana’s death and has continued into his well-known split from the royal family; and how the British press, whom he called the “chief antagonist,” remains the biggest barrier between any reconciliation between him and Markle with the royal family.
The memoir follows the release of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan docuseries, which has become a hit for the streamer. The four-part series saw Harry and Markle delving deeper into their split from the royal family, following their 2021 bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, and saw the pair accusing William’s press team of planting stories about the Sussexes to the British press.
Buckingham Palace has yet to comment. (Strahan noted that the law firm of Buckingham Palace told GMA the Palace needed to “consider exactly what is said in the interview and the context in which it appears.”)
In the second hour of his GMA interview, Harry spoke more about his grieving process following the 1997 death of Diana when he was 12. In Spare, he had opened up about holding onto hope that his mother could have faked her death and would reunite with the boys eventually — that she was “hiding” — until he visited Paris at age 23 and had his driver go through the tunnel she died in.
“I refused to accept that was what happened,” Harry told Strahan, calling how he coped to be a defense mechanism. “If you had asked me, ‘How would your life have differed if you had done therapy then?’ Well, I probably would have done less drugs, I probably would have drunk less, partied less. Not to say I wouldn’t have partied and done all those things — I probably would have done, but not for the reason I was doing them. I was either trying to find a feeling or numb a feeling.”
He spoke about being informed about Diana’s death by his father, and the aftermath. “I don’t think my family knew what to do,” he said. “And I can’t say whether other families would have done a better job, but I wish I had the ability or the opportunity to do some form of therapy, or at least be able to talk more about losing my mom, and celebrating her life. But who is to say at age 12 whether I would have even said yes to that.”
What saved him he said, was his military service: “I then had the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself.”
Adding, “I was born into service, it runs in my blood. I’m always going to serve communities. I’m always going to serve people as much as I can, use this position for good. And I really get genuine healing from helping other people. Ultimately, it challenged me beyond anything else I could imagine.”
When Strahan asked if some of his suffering as a soldier could date back to his childhood and losing his mother, Harry opened up about his experience with Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI).
“It was very much PTSI, more of an injury than a disorder,” he said. “I fully appreciate that for a lot of these guys and girls, not just in the military but across society as a whole, that people are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I’ve tried to reframe it as much as possible to say it’s an injury because you can actually heal from it.”
In 2021, Harry partnered also with Winfrey on their mental health docuseries for Apple TV+ The Me You Can’t See, which saw Harry breaking with royal tradition and opening up about the counseling he sought for his mother’s death.
Harry concluded his chat with Strahan by sharing hopes about mending his relationship with the royal family, but that he has reached some acceptance if that’s not possible. “I am exactly where I’m supposed to be,” he said of post-royal life with Markle and their two young children, Archie and Lilibet.
The full ABC News interview with Harry, Prince Harry: In His Own Words | Michael Strahan Reporting, will stream on ABC News Live and Hulu Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Jan. 9, 7:20 a.m. Updated to include the second hour of Harry’s GMA interview.