Prince Harry says brother Prince William 'grabbed me and knocked me to the floor'

Allegations in new book Spare are likely to deepen tensions within the British royal family

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Prince Harry says he was physically attacked by his brother, Prince William, now Prince of Wales, in his much-anticipated autobiography, Spare.

The British royal, who now lives in America, says his relationship with Prince William fell apart over his marriage to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Prince Harry says Prince William referred to the former Suits actress as "difficult", "rude" and "abrasive".

In excerpts of the memoir, which were published before its release by British newspaper The Guardian, he writes that during an argument in 2019, Prince William "grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and … knocked me to the floor", which he says resulted in a visible back injury after he landed on the dog's bowl in the kitchen of his home in the grounds of Kensington Palace.

Prince Harry says he then told his older brother to leave. Prince William looked "regretful, and apologised," Prince Harry recalled, according to the newspaper.

The Guardian quoted the exchange between the two princes from the book: Prince William "turned and called back: 'You don't need to tell Meg about this.'

"You mean that you attacked me?'

"'I didn't attack you, Harold,'" Prince William responded, seeming to use a nickname for Prince Harry.

It is only one of the shocking revelations expected to come out in Spare, which is due to be published worldwide next week, but has already been seen by some news outlets.

In a new preview clip from his forthcoming interview with British journalist Tom Bradby, Prince Harry said those accusing him of invading his family’s privacy in releasing his tell-all book “don’t understand or don’t want to believe” the press were being briefed by them.

In the clip, he says: “I don’t know how staying silent is ever going to make things better.”

Bradby asks: “Wouldn’t your brother say to you, ‘Harry, how could you do this to me after everything? After everything we went through?’ Wouldn’t that be what he would say?”

The duke responds: “He would probably say all sorts of different things.”

Bradby goes on: “Some people will say you’ve railed against invasions of your privacy all your life and the accusation will be here are you invading the privacy of your nearest and dearest without permission, now that will be the accusation.”

To which the duke says: “That would be the accusation from people that don’t understand or don’t want to believe that my family have been briefing the press.”

The ITV presenter asks if Prince Harry will attend King Charles’s coronation if he is invited.

He replies: “There’s a lot that can happen between now and then.

“But, the door is always open. The ball is in their court.

“There’s a lot to be discussed and I really hope that they’re willing to sit down and talk about it.”

Prince Harry says he still believes in the monarchy but when asked if he will play a part in its future, he replies: “I don’t know.”

In a clip on Good Morning America, host Michael Strahan, who has also interviewed Prince Harry. He says he is amazed by how open Prince Harry has been about the rift with his brother. He says in the book Prince William is described as Prince Harry’s “beloved brother” and “arch-nemesis”.

Meanwhile, US website Page Six said Prince Harry writes that it was Prince William and his wife Kate who encouraged him to dress up in the now infamous Nazi costume for a party and “howled” with laughter when they saw him.

Prince Harry, then 20, sparked widespread international outrage in 2005 when he was pictured on the front of The Sun wearing a swastika armband as a Nazi soldier from the Afrika Korps.

The media storm surrounding his choice of fancy dress for a “Colonials and Natives” party was a major blow to his reputation and he has described it in his Netflix documentary as “probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life”.

Prince Harry now claims he called the couple to ask them whether he should choose a pilot’s uniform or a Nazi one for the fancy dress party and they picked the latter.

“I phoned Willy and Kate, asked what they thought. ‘Nazi uniform’, they said,” Prince Harry writes, adding that when he went home and tried it on for them: “They both howled. Worse than Willy’s leotard outfit! Way more ridiculous! Which, again, was the point.”

Why is the book called Spare?

The title of the book has been called “raw” and “brutal” by critics in UK publications.

However, far from being criticisms, the descriptions are in keeping with the idea and history of a “spare”, born out of the system of succession, which has evolved with the monarchy over the centuries.

In modern times, the “heir and a spare” quote is usually attributed to Consuelo Vanderbilt-Balsan, heiress to the wealthy and celebrated American family of industrialists, who became prominent during the Gilded Age.

Marrying Charles Spencer-Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, in November 1895, Vanderbilt gave birth to two sons, John Albert William Spencer-Churchill and Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill.

When her second child was born, the heiress is said to have declared that she had given the duke, to whom she was unhappily married, “an heir and a spare".

Throughout history, “spares” have often struggled to find their role, from King Henry III’s brother, the Duke of Anjou, who spent his life in his sibling’s shadow, to Princess Margaret, who allegedly lamented her sister Elizabeth joining the line of succession, saying: “Now that Papa is king, I am nothing.”

Prince Harry told The Sunday Times in 2016, of his role in the royal family: "There's nothing worse than going through a period in your life where you're making a massive difference and then suddenly, for whatever reason it is — whether it's media or the public perception of you — you drop off.

“You want to make a difference, but no one's listening to you.”

Prince Harry wants his father and brother back

In an excerpt from an interview with UK broadcaster ITV, released earlier this week, Prince Harry says: "I would like to get my father back; I would like to have my brother back", despite the new revelation and the fact he said, in the explosive Harry & Meghan documentary, that Prince William was “screaming and shouting” at him in another incident.

Prince Harry said in the six-part Netflix series that their troubled relationship “never needed to be this way”.

Prince Harry also says “they feel as though it is better to keep us somehow as the villains” and “have shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile”, although it is unclear who he is referring to.

However, in a separate interview with CBS News, set to be broadcast on Sunday, Prince Harry also criticises Buckingham Palace over an alleged failure to defend him and his wife before they stepped down as senior royals.

In a one-minute extract, Prince Harry says: “Every single time I've tried to do it privately, there have been briefings and leaking and planting of stories against me and my wife.

“The family motto is 'never complain, never explain', but it's just a motto."

Updated: January 05, 2023, 2:24 PM