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The New Daily
The New Daily
Louise Talbot

‘Happened so fast’: Harry tells of physical altercation with William

When Prince Harry announced his memoir would go ahead, eyes turned to the American celebrity ghostwriter commissioned to write it.

What else has JR Moehringer written and what will he bring to the highly anticipated account, Spare, to be released globally on January 10?

On Thursday, it emerged the book featured an extraordinary scene involving the Prince of Wales and his younger brother in a physical fight.

According to The Guardian, which obtained a leaked copy of the book, Harry relates a confrontation with Prince William at his home at Kensington Palace.

Harry and wife Meghan Markle lived at tiny Nottingham Cottage, within the palace grounds, in the months after their 2018 wedding.

In the leaked extract, the Duke of Sussex alleges William called his wife “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”, as the pair traded angry insults.

Harry writes that he gave his brother a glass of water and said: “Willy, I can’t speak to you when you’re like this.”

“He set down the water, called me another name, then came at me. It all happened so fast. So very fast. 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,” Harry said, according to The Guardian‘s excerpts.

The outlet said it obtained an advanced copy of Spare “amid stringent pre-launch security”, describing it as a “remarkable volume” that is “likely to spark a serious furore for the British royal family”.

In it, Harry writes that William urged him to hit back, citing their fights as children.

Harry says he refused. William left the cottage, according to the prince’s account, but returned shortly after “looking regretful, and apologised”.

When William left again, his brother writes, he “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’.’’

Harry tells Moehringer that he didn’t immediately tell the Duchess of Sussex of the clash. But he did tell his therapist.

He told Meghan only when she noticed “scrapes and bruises” on his back.

In another anecdote from the book, Harry outlines a frosty meeting with his brother and father, now the King, following his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021.

“Please boys, don’t make my final years a misery,” Harry claims Charles begged as he stood between his two sons, “looking up at our flushed faces”.

They are the first concrete anecdotes to emerge from the book ahead of its publication next week.

Harry will appear on TV on Sunday in two sit-down interviews, one on America’s CBS network with Anderson Cooper and another with Tom Bradby for Britain’s ITV.

In teaser trailers, Harry tells Bradby: “It never needed to be this way.”

“They’ve shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile,” he said of his father and brother.

“I would like to get my father back; I would like to have my brother back.”

In a second clip, Cooper asks the prince: “Can you see a day when you would return as a full-time member of the royal family?”

Prince Harry responds quickly, “No.”

ITV’s 90-minute interview with the prince will be broadcast on Sunday (British time).

Cooper’s interview – Harry’s first for the US 60 Minutes – airs on the same day.

Moehringer a ‘kindred spirit’

JJ Moehringer, the ghostwriter behind Spare, is a San Francisco-based, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author.

He has also ghostwritten the memoirs of famous men with father issues, including tennis champ Andre Agassi, billionaire Nike boss Phil Knight and the US’s most famous bank robber, Willie Sutton.

Moehringer, whose 2005 memoir The Tender Bar, was adapted into a film starring Ben Affleck and George Clooney, also had an absent dad.

“No doubt Moehringer was chosen to write the prince’s confessional because he seemed a kindred spirit, wronged and voluble,” wrote The Guardian in the days after Penguin Random House confirmed the book’s imminent release.

The publisher’s statement suggests Prince Harry will have much to say about his father, and Moehringer will lend a wise, sympathetic ear.

Announcing the book, Penguin summoned memories of the death in 1997 of Prince Harry’s mother, Diana, and of a then 12-year-old Harry and his 15-year-old brother, William, “walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow – and horror”.

“As Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling – and how their lives would play out from that point on,” Penguin said.

“For Harry, this is his story at last.”

Some say it was the late Prince Philip, who encouraged the young Harry to walk behind the carriage, saying “if you do it, I’ll do it”. But the final nod would have come from Charles.

Penguin Random House’s global boss, Markus Dohle, reveals Harry will share “a remarkably moving personal journey from trauma to healing”.

A young Harry with William and his father at the 1997 funeral of Princess Diana. Photo: Getty

An heir and spare

The memoir’s title refers to Prince Harry being a royal “spare”, not the first in line to succession.

His brother William, Prince of Wales, is heir to the throne.

The Duke of Sussex’s willingness to discuss his post-royal private life is now well documented.

It began with an interview with Harry and Meghan by Oprah Winfrey in March 2021.

The couple told Winfrey of Meghan’s deep unhappiness with her life in England, alleged racism within the royal family, and Harry’s fear that his wife’s life might be at risk if they remained in England.

In December, the Sussexes released a six-part Netflix docu-series that traces the early days of their courtship, their love-hate relationship with the British press, their “freedom flight” to the US and eventual relocation to California, where they are raising children Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1.

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