Prince Harry explains why he saw Camilla as ‘dangerous’
Friends and former aides of the 74-year-old monarch said he was upset and saddened by his younger son’s latest stinging criticism on the reputation of his beloved second wife. Harry used brutal language in describing Camilla as “dangerous” and “the villain.”
The Prince, 38, accused her of sacrificing him to rehabilitate her image by trading information with the media when she was trying to win public support after her affair with Charles.
In a series of television interviews in the United States to promote his memoir Spare, which is published today, he said he had not spoken to his stepmother for “quite a while”, was no longer texting his brother, and had not been in touch with his father the King for some time.
His attack on Camilla, 75, astonished royal insiders and royal watchers alike and threatened to cast a shadow over her crowning at the Coronation in May.
Royal author Phil Dampier said: “The King has always made it clear that the one thing he wouldn’t tolerate was criticism of Camilla, Prince Harry has crossed a red line with a cruel attack on the Queen Consort that has scuppered any hopes of a reconciliation with his father.”
Buckingham Palace declined to comment, choosing to leave it to others to decide how the King was feeling, but others who know him well were in no doubt that the monarch has been wounded by his son’s attacks.
In the book, Harry has given an unflinching assessment of Camilla’s role in making his life a misery. In an interview with Anderson Cooper on the CBS 60 Minutes show early yesterday, he said: “She was the villain, she was a third person in the marriage, she needed to rehabilitate her image.
“That made her dangerous because of the connections that she was forging within the British press. And there was open willingness on both sides to trade information and with a family built on hierarchy, and with her on the way to being Queen Consort, there was going to be people or bodies left in the street because of that.”
Harry’s attack astonished royal insiders
In the book, he accuses royal aides of planting stories about him and Meghan as a trade-off to garner better press for Charles and Camilla as well as William and Kate.
But he has not produced any compelling evidence to support his claims.
During an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday, the co-host read an extract from the book going back to when Charles and Camilla married, against the wishes of both him and William.
“In a funny way, I even wanted Camilla to be happy. Maybe she’d be less dangerous if she was happy,” he wrote.
In another excerpt, he said: “I have complex feelings about gaining a stepparent who I thought had recently sacrificed me on her personal PR altar.”
Asked what Camilla had “done” at that point, Harry replied: “I have a huge amount of compassion for her, you know. Being the third person within my parents’ marriage and she had a reputation, or an image, to rehabilitate.”
Princess Diana famously remarked in her 1995 BBC Panorama interview that there were “three people in this marriage
Harry said: “Whatever conversations happened, whatever deals or trading was made right at the beginning, she was led to believe that that would be the best way of doing it.”
Questioned further about his relationship with his stepmother, Harry added: “We haven’t spoken for a long time. I love every member of my family, despite the differences, so when I see her we’re perfectly pleasant with each other.
“She’s my stepmother. I don’t look at her as an evil stepmother. I see someone who married into this institution and has done everything that she can to improve her own reputation and her own image for her own sake.”
Harry told Anderson Cooper he no longer texted with his brother William and said it had been “a while” since they had spoken.
Asked about his relationship with his father, he said: “We haven’t spoken for quite a while, no, not recently.”
He also admitted that the divide between them could not be greater in response to a question about whether his memoir would bring the family back together or widen the divide. “I thought about it long and hard, and as far as I see it the divide couldn’t be greater before this book,” he said.
Friends and former aides said the King was hurt. “There will be a good deal of sadness,” Kristina Kyriacou, who worked as the then Prince Charles’s communications secretary between 2009 and 2016, said.
But she predicted that the King would still try to find some way of reconciling with his son privately. “The King is not a vindictive man,” she said.
She predicted that Harry and Meghan would still be invited to the Coronation but she saw little prospect of a wider reconciliation between the Sussexes the public-facing institutional side of the monarchy. “To have reconciliation it has to come from both sides,” she said.
Buckingham Palace sent a lawyer’s letter while the interview with ABC presenter Michael Strahan was on air yesterday, saying it wanted to “consider what is said in the interview in the context in which it appears”.
I don’t look at her as an evil stepmother, said the Duke
Sussexes accused of backtracking
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have refused to explain why they accepted an award for combatting racism inside the monarchy despite insisting it did not exist.
Harry and Meghan flew to New York last month to collect the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award for their “heroic” stance against “structural racism” inside the Royal Family.
But in an interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby on Sunday night, Harry insisted he and Meghan had never said they thought the Royal Family was racist. Instead they thought some family members had demonstrated unconscious bias – thinking about black people in a stereotypical way, he insisted.
Royal insiders, including former aides, accused the couple of backtracking on one of their chief complaints and also questioned why they had waited almost two years to make the clarification after airing concerns in a US television interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 that an unidentified family member had been worried about how dark their first child would be.
Harry said it was the media and not they that had used the word racism but they never tried to correct it even when they accepted the Ripple of Hope Award on December 6 for their work on racial justice, mental health, and other social impact action through their Archewell Foundation.
Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the former US Attorney General and senator who was assassinated in 1968, hailed them. “They went to the oldest institution in UK history and told them what they were doing wrong, that they couldn’t have structural racism within the institution,” she said. “I think they have been heroic in taking this step.”
Yet on Sunday, when Harry was asked if he would describe the remarks about their son Archie’s skin colour as racist, he said: “I wouldn’t, not having lived within that family.”
He also defended Lady Susan Hussey, the senior courtier forced to resign after questioning a black British domestic violence campaigner about where she really came from.
Kristina Kyriacou, who served as communications secretary to the then Prince Charles from 2009 until 2016, suggested the couple had backtracked from one of their central demands for an apology from the Royal Family. “They have done a massive U-turn on the fact that there is racism inside the Royal Family. That seemed to be the main point of what they wanted an apology for,” she said.
The Sussexes’ lawyer, Jenny Afia, and their office in California did not respond to questions about the controversy yesterday.
In an interview on US television, Harry also declined to respond to questions about their complaints about the family member’s remarks about the skin colour of their then-unborn first child and why they had dropped any mention of it in their Netflix series and in Harry’s memoir. Spare.
The Prince warned CBS’s 60 Minutes interviewer Anderson Cooper that he would not discuss the matter further after the journalist said: “That wasn’t brought up in Netflix or in the book. Why?”
Couple to ”retreat” for the rest of the year
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex may retreat for the rest of the year as they have both told their sides of the story, the author of a biography on the couple has said, writes Mark Reynolds.
Omid Scobie, co-author of Finding Freedom, said the frankness of Harry’s memoir Spare is the result of a man who for all of his life “hasn’t been able to share a word of it”.
But he added there is not really much else to say and so royal watchers can expect to see a shift in the months ahead.
Speaking about Harry, Mr Scobie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He’s watched other people tell that story over and over again, including journalists such as myself.
“I think this is Harry finally wanting to put his voice on the historical royal record.
“Of course, that does come with some downsides for those who have been part of his journey. We heard some sort of really startling confessions and stories about members of the royal family, particularly when it comes to Camilla and her relationship with the press.
“This is really just Harry sort of pulling the curtain back on it all. We’re actually getting, I guess, the look behind palace walls that we’ve always wanted.”
Mr Scobie said Harry is clearly “very confident in the story that he’s telling” and that it has taken him a long time to get to this point.
Mr Scobie was asked if he gets the feeling from Harry and Meghan’s team that this is how they intend to continue, and he said he thinks the couple “have to be quite careful right now”, adding there has been a lot of focus on their private life recently and their brand has been “very much about drama” and a “soap opera” that has been played out publicly.
“I think we’re going to see, for the rest of this year, a couple sort of retreating from a lot of what we’ve seen over the last few months.
“They’ve both shared their sides of the story. Harry more in many, many ways, in more ways than we could have ever imagined.
“There isn’t really much else to say and so I think we will see a shift in the months ahead. That said, when it comes to talking about reconciliation, that is very difficult after the amount that he has shared in this book,” he said.
Mr Scobie said Harry is clearly ‘very confident in the story that he’s telling”’
More viewers watched Happy Valley than tuned into Harry interview
More viewers watched BBC’s Happy Valley than tuned into the much-anticipated interview with the Duke of Sussex on ITV, according to overnight figures.
Harry: The Interview drew an average TV audience of 4.1 million, based on overnight figures released by ITV.
The broadcaster said the 90-minute programme, in which Harry was interviewed by Tom Bradby as part of the promotion for the duke’s memoir, Spare, ahead of its release on Tuesday, achieved the channel’s highest rating for a factual programme for more than a year.
In comparison, the second episode of series three of BBC One’s Happy Valley, which started at the same time – 9pm on Sunday – and lasted 60 minutes, had an average audience of 5.3 million TV viewers, according to the overnight figures.
The crime drama, which was written and created by Sally Wainwright and stars Sarah Lancashire as Sergeant Catherine Cawood, returned on New Year’s Day for its final series after last being broadcast in 2016.
During the course of ITV’s special programme, presenter Bradby asked Harry about alleged accusations of racism during his interview with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey, when his wife, Meghan, revealed that an unnamed family member had raised concerns about how dark their unborn son’s skin would be.
“No, I didn’t… the British press said that… did Meghan ever mention that they’re racist? … There was concern about his skin colour,” the duke said.
Bradby asked: “Wouldn’t you describe that as essentially racist?”, to which Harry replied: “I wouldn’t, not having lived within that family.”
He added: “Going back to the difference between what my understanding is because of my own experience, the difference between racism and unconscious bias, the two things are different.”
Other key moments from the interview included Harry saying it was “fair” to say the Prince and Princess of Wales did not like Meghan from the beginning, and accusing the royal family of a “really horrible reaction” on the day of the Queen’s death.
ITV also said an average of 4.2 million viewers across both TV and streaming platform ITVX watched the programme, with an audience peak of 4.6 million.
By calling the Queen Consort a “villain” Prince Harry has crossed a line and scuppered any hopes of a reconciliation with his father.
King Charles is unlikely to forgive him for dragging his beloved wife into this sorry saga.
Knowing his propensity for re-writing history and twisting facts Harry would probably tell us it was the evil press who made Camilla a villain and he is simply repeating the slur.
But after he reveals in his book Spare that he and brother William pleaded with Charles not to marry the love of his life, I think we can deduce what Harry thinks of her.
Harry told CBS interviewer Anderson Cooper: “She was the villain, she was a third person in the marriage, she needed to rehabilitate her image.
“That was dangerous because of the connections she was forging with the British press.
“With her on the way to being Queen Consort, there was going to be people or bodies left in the street because of that.”
There is some truth in what Harry says, but he is wrong to blame Camilla personally.
For five years after Diana’s death the then Prince Charles did employ Machiavellian spin doctor Mark Bolland to boost the image of him and Camilla, sometimes at the expense of other members of the royal family.
I thought it was a mistake then and I do now.
But it was not Camilla’s idea.
She would have preferred to be the mistress in the background, seeing Charles when she could but enjoying a normal life away from the spotlight.
Even now I’m not sure she is comfortable with her role, but Charles couldn’t live without her and she has done a fantastic job so far looking after him and adapting to royal life.
At 75 Camilla would rather be sipping a gin and tonic in a country retreat, not taking on the awesome duties of being Queen.
So if Harry wants to blame anyone it should be his father, not his stepmother.
Harry has admitted he hasn’t spoken to his father or brother for some time and these interviews will only worsen the relationships.
Charles may invite him and Meghan to the Coronation but it would be better for all concerned if they didn’t turn up.
In public, the King will continue to maintain a dignified silence and leave the door open to his wayward son.
But in private I fear he has lost him forever.