Prince Harry book gets critical mauling in UK

Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" was on Friday mauled by British media and commentators who called it "vengeful" and "calculated", as Buckingham Palace kept silent on the widely leaked contents.

Days before the official publication on Tuesday, disclosures from the book dominated the headlines and airwaves after a Spanish-language version of the memoir mistakenly went on sale in Spain.

Revelations such as how heir to the throne Prince William allegedly pushed Harry to the ground in a 2019 row to how he lost his virginity, took drugs and killed 25 Taliban in Afghanistan prompted both condemnation and derision.

Writer A.N. Wilson called the ghostwritten tome -- the biggest royal book since Harry's mother Princess Diana collaborated with Andrew Morton for "Diana: Her True Story" in 1992 -- "calculated and despicable" and a work of "malice".

- 'Idiotic' -

"Having made the idiotic decision to 'go public' about his rift with the royal family, Harry was no doubt under enormous pressure... to spew out as much poison as possible," he wrote in the Daily Mail.

"But it has cast him in an appalling light. And whatever he intended, it makes us sympathise not with him, but the Royal Family."

The book is the latest hostile blast from Harry and his American wife Meghan after they quit royal duties and moved to California in 2020.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are formally known, have since cashed in on their royal connections with several lucrative contracts for tell-all books and programmes.

The Spanish-language version of the book was hurriedly withdrawn from shelves after the blunder on Thursday but not before it had been purchased by media outlets, wrecking the publisher's strict worldwide embargo.

The Sun tabloid said that while people sympathised with Harry, 38, over the trauma of losing his mother as a child and having to grieve in the public eye, "neither can justify the destructive, vengeful path he has chosen, throwing his own family under a bus for millions of dollars".

In an editorial, it pointed to "countless discrepancies" in his claims and urged him to listen to friends who have urged him to "stop for his own good".

Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir called the book the "sour cherry on the rancid cake" of Harry and Meghan's other assorted programmes and interviews in which they have taken aim at his family.

The Guardian's Gaby Hinsliff said the book had moved beyond issues of "awkward public interest" into the "washing of dirty linen" in public.

The left-leaning newspaper, which has questioned the monarchy's role in modern Britain, was the first to publish a leaked extract of the book this week in which Harry described his physical altercation with William.

"The details of the brothers' alleged punch-up in a palace cottage are at once almost ridiculously trivial and heartbreakingly sad," she wrote.

- 'Red mist' -

British network ITV and US broadcaster CBS had been given exclusive interviews with Harry to be broadcast on Sunday before Tuesday's publication.

"I saw this red mist in him," Harry said in a clip of his chat with ITV, talking about the altercation with William. "He wanted me to hit him back, but I chose not to"

"I want reconciliation, but first there has to be accountability," he adds.

As the hashtag #ShutUpHarry began trending on Twitter, The Sun quoted sources close to his father King Charles III as saying he had been saddened by the book.

But there was no official palace comment.

The only previous royal reaction to Harry and Meghan's complaints was after they accused an unnamed member of the royal family of racism in their 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.

William told a reporter the family was "very much not a racist family" while his late grandmother Queen Elizabeth II famously said "recollections may vary".

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