Prince Harry takes aim at royals ahead of release of explosive memoir

LONDON — In the first of two high-profile jabs at the British royal family on Sunday, Prince Harry alleges the royal household engaged in damaging media briefings as part of a campaign to rehabilitate the girlfriend of his father Charles, Camilla.

“She started playing the long game. A campaign for marriage and possibly the crown,” Harry told British ITV news anchor Tom Bradby in an interview that aired on Sunday.

Harry has long alleged an unhealthy relationship between the royal family and the British media, as well as blaming photographers for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Harry spent much of the interview describing his anger at what he believes to be a ruthless and irresponsible media outlet.

“The moment that this rehabilitation comes at the expense of others, me, other members of my family, then that’s where I draw the line,” he said.

In the interview, which aired hours before another interview with Anderson Cooper on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Harry goes on to detail his acrimonious split from the royal family.

Her memoir, “Spare,” goes on sale Tuesday.

Camilla, now Queen Consort, was widely seen as partly responsible for Charles and Diana’s divorce, and she was not popular with the British public. Her profile steadily improved before and after her marriage to Charles, who became king, in 2005.

As she struggled to position herself to be more public-friendly, Harry claims, she planted unflattering stories about Harry’s wife, the Duchess of Sussex, former US TV actress Meghan Markle.

In the interview with Cooper, which aired Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, Harry says he spoke out publicly because “every time I tried to do it privately there were briefings, leaks and stories against me and my wife.”

He adds that the statements were not released to protect his family from some of the media coverage and that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

He also refuses to commit to attending his father’s coronation in May as King Charles III. An article in the Sunday’s Telegraph of London indicated that he may, in fact, not be included in the ceremony.

“A lot can happen between now and then. But you know, the door is always open. The ball is in their court,” he says when asked if he will be present. “I really hope they’re ready to sit down and talk about it.”

He says he still believes in the British monarchy but does not know what role he would play in its future.

Harry also said he wanted to reconcile with his family, but only after taking responsibility for some of their actions.

“I think there’s probably a lot of people who, after watching the documentary and reading the book, will say ‘how could you ever forgive your family for what they did?’ People have already told me that,” he told Bradby. “And I said forgiveness is a 100% possibility because I’d love to get my dad back. I’d love to get my brother back. Right now I don’t recognize them, as much as they probably don’t recognize me . .”

Details of Harry’s memoir emerged first in leaked advance copies and then after they were mistakenly put on sale in early Spain, despite tight security around its release. NBC News has seen and translated excerpts from a Spanish version of the book.

In the memoir, Harry accuses his brother of physically assaulting him during an argument over his marriage to Meghan. It also describes his drug use and suggests that William and Catherine, then William’s girlfriend, encouraged him to dress up as a Nazi at a costume party in 2005, for which he was widely criticized.

He also came under fire on Friday for his claim in the book that he had killed 25 “enemy combatants” in Afghanistan while on two tours with the British Army.

Kensington Palace, which represents William, and Buckingham Palace, which represents Charles, declined to comment on the allegations in the book or interview trailers, which come at a difficult time for the monarchy, four months only after the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the Ascension of the new king.

A six-part documentary series on Netflix last month shows how acrimonious the couple’s separation from the family has been, focusing on Harry and Meghan’s announcement in 2020 that they would be stepping back from royal duties.

The two first laid out their side of the story in their explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, accusing the family members of racism.

William denied the family were racist in public comments at the time, and the palace said in a statement that the allegations were “concerning” and that “although some memories may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be treated by the family in private.”

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