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Prince Harry takes aim at royal family ahead of bombshell memoir release

"Briefings and leakings and planting of stories" endangered his family and "drove me from my country," he says in U.S. and U.K. TV interviews.
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LONDON — Prince Harry unmasked his emotion and animosity toward Britain's royal family Sunday, blaming members for planting stories in tabloid media that he says have endangered his family.

"They drove me from my country," Harry told Anderson Cooper on CBS' "60 Minutes."

Harry has long alleged an unhealthy relationship between the royal family and the British media, in addition to having blamed photographers for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Harry spent a good part of his interviews Sunday on "60 Minutes" and the British network ITV, scheduled as parts of a publicity campaign for the release on Tuesday of his memoir, "Spare," describing his anger at what he believes is a callous and unaccountable media.

The planted stories endangered his family and inspired threats against Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, he said. The results of the campaigns, he indicated, were pieces like a newspaper column late last year by the car world personality Jeremy Clarkson that expressed his "hate" for Meghan and revealed a fantasy of Brits' throwing excrement at her.

Harry moved with his family to Southern California in 2020. He and Meghan have become adept at using their own platforms, including Netflix, and now the publishing world, to strike back.

In the first of the two interviews, on ITV, Harry alleged that the royal household engaged in damaging briefings to the media as part of a campaign to rehabilitate his father Charles’ then-girlfriend, Camilla.

“She began to play the long game. A campaign aimed at marriage and eventually the crown,” Harry told Tom Bradby, a news presenter at British broadcaster ITV, in an interview that aired Sunday.

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

In the ITV interview, broadcast a few hours before “60 Minutes,” Harry continued to detail his acrimonious split from the royal family.

Camilla, now the queen consort, was widely seen as partly responsible for the divorce of Charles and Diana, and she was not popular with British public. Her profile improved steadily before and after her wedding to Charles, now the king, in 2005.

As she worked to position herself to be in greater public favor, Harry alleges, she planted unflattering stories about Meghan.

In the interview with Cooper, Harry said he spoke out 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.”

He added that royal family statements were not put out to protect his family from some of the media coverage and that “there becomes a point when silence is betrayal.”

He also refused to commit to attend the May coronation of his father as King Charles III. A report in Sunday's Telegraph of London indicated that he may, in fact, not be included in the ceremony.

“There’s a lot that can happen between now and then. But you know, the door is always open. The ball is in their court,” he said when asked whether he will attend. “I really hope that they are willing to sit down and talk about it.”

He said that he still believes in the British monarchy but that he doesn't know what role he would play in its future.

Harry also said he wants to reconcile with his family, but only after they take accountability for some of their actions.

"I think there’s probably a lot of people who, after watching the documentary and reading the book, will go ‘how could you ever forgive your family for what they’ve done?’ People have already said that to me," he told Bradby. "And I said forgiveness is 100% a possibility because I would like to get my father back. I would like to have my brother back. At the moment, 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 it mistakenly went on sale early in Spain, despite tight security around its publication. NBC News has seen and translated extracts of a Spanish-language version of the book.

In the memoir Harry accuses his brother of having physically attacked him in an argument over his marriage to Meghan. He also describes his use of illicit drugs and suggests that William and Catherine, then William's girlfriend, encouraged him to dress as a Nazi at a 2005 costume party, for which he was widely criticized.

He also faced criticism Friday for his claim in the book that he had killed 25 “enemy combatants” in Afghanistan when he served 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 the interview trailers, which have come at an awkward time for the monarchy, just four months after Queen Elizabeth II’s death and the ascension of the new king. 

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

The two first outlined their side of the story in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, accusing members of the family of racism.

William denied that the family was racist in public comments at the time, and the palace said in a statement that the allegations were “concerning” and that “while some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”