Prince Harry has accused the British royal family of “getting into bed with the devil” to rehabilitate their image, and said his interests had been sacrificed by his father, King Charles III, in favour of his own.
The Duke of Sussex also said he got a “really horrible reaction” from the royal family on the day Queen Elizabeth II died, followed by leakings and briefings.
He made the remarks to British broadcaster ITV on Sunday, during his first prime-time TV interview to promote his controversial memoir.
Prince Harry also told ITV’s Tom Bradby that he loved his father and brother, Prince William, but said “at the moment, I don’t recognise them as much as they probably don’t recognise me”.
“Nothing of what I have done in this book or otherwise has ever been any intention to harm them or hurt them,” he said.
The memoir, called Spare, is due out on Tuesday and has caused a furore over claims that Prince William physically attacked him, as well as his admission that he killed 25 Taliban fighters during the Afghanistan war.
Prince Harry said he wanted to reconcile with his father and brother, and added that “forgiveness is 100 per cent a possibility”.
But when questioned by Bradby on whether he had taken a “flame thrower” to any bridges, Prince Harry said “silence only allows the abuser to abuse”.
“They have shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile up until this point. And I am not sure how honesty is burning bridges,” he said.
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The Duke of Sussex condemned the British press throughout the interview, and accused his family and people who work for them of being “complicit” in the conflict the media had created.
He denied that he had accused the royal family of racism in his interview with Oprah Winfrey, when he and Meghan revealed that an unidentified family member raised concerns about how dark their unborn son’s skin would be.
“No, I didn’t … the British press said that,” Prince Harry said. “Did Meghan every mention that they are racist? There was concern about his skin colour.”
Pressed on whether he would not describe that as essentially racist, he said: “I wouldn’t, not having lived within that family.”
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The claims in March 2021 left Winfrey shocked and plunged the monarchy into crisis as it faced accusations of racism, but Prince Harry again refused to name the royal involved.
He also backed the queen’s former lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey, who quit an honorary role after asking a black British domestic violence campaigner where she really came from.
“Meghan and I love Susan Hussey … She never meant any harm at all,” Prince Harry said.
Other key moments from the Sunday night programme, which ran for one hour and 40 minutes, include:
— Prince Harry claiming it was “fair” to say Prince William and Kate, the Princess of Wales, did not get on with the Duchess of Sussex from the beginning.
— His compassion for King Charles at having to break the news to his sons that their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, was dead.
— How King Charles once told Prince Harry as he discussed his struggles: “I suppose it is my fault. I should have got you the help you needed years ago.”
— Prince Harry describing how he fled his home country with his wife and son, fearing for his life.
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— His fears of becoming a single father if what happened with his mother repeated itself with his wife
— How the people “predominantly responsible” for his mother's death “all got away with it”.
— His act of calling the bluff of a tabloid editor who threatened to expose a picture of him taking cocaine.
— His denial that he was “scathing” towards Camilla and the rest of his family.
His book includes how he took cocaine and magic mushrooms, and lost his virginity to an older woman in a field behind a busy pub.
The stories have dominated the headlines for days.
Bradby brought up the part where the duke wrote about losing his virginity at the age of 17, to which Prince Harry responded: “It’s four lines or something … if that.”
He then quipped: “We can talk about you losing your virginity, if you want.”
Prince Harry also revealed how he felt “slightly isolated” and different from his family in his younger years after the death of his mother, but shared joyful times with his great-grandmother, the Queen Mother.
“The truth is something that I need to rely on, and after many, many years of lies being told about me and my family, there comes a point where, you know, again, going back to the relationship between certain members of the family and the tabloid press, those certain members have decided to get in the bed with the devil, right, to rehabilitate their image,” he said.
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As Bradby outlined criticisms of King Charles, including the claim that he had sacrificed his son's interests “certainly when it comes to the press”, Prince Harry said he understood the need to have that relationship with the tabloid press but did not agree with it.
He said there had been “incredibly hurtful” decisions that had continued.
“It hasn’t stopped. It’s continuing the whole, the whole way through,” he said.
Prince Harry said he wrote his book because “38 years of having my story told by so many different people, with intentional spin and distortion, felt like a good time to own my story and be able to tell it for myself”.
“You know, I don’t think that if I was still part of the institution that I would have been given this chance to.”
The interview, filmed in California, is the first of four broadcast appearances over the coming days, with Prince Harry also speaking to 60 Minutes on CBS News on Sunday night, Good Morning America on Monday and Stephen Colbert on the Late Show on CBS on Wednesday morning UK time.