Prince Harry has been warned claims made against his family in his autobiography Spare could “undermine” the veracity of previous allegations. The Duke of Sussex repeatedly claimed royal staffers routinely trade stories about other members of the Royal Family to deflect attention from their employers. But royal historian Gareth Russell noted the claim could ultimately be “dangerous” to Harry himself.
Asked about the “most damaging allegation” to emerge from the book, Mr Russell told US Weekly: “I think probably the outright accusation that each of the households are leaking stories to the media, and playing a game with them.
“It’s dangerous for two reasons – first, it strangely undermines his point a little bit about the perniciousness of the tabloid press.
“It makes it more of a complicit, difficult-to-disentangle relationship and you then have to question – if all the households are doing this, was Diana doing this, was Charles doing this in the 90s?
“It made it a bit more difficult to follow what I thought was a brilliantly put-forward point.”
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Prince Harry had previously claimed to have struck a deal with Prince William not to brief the press about each other after witnessing the impact the strategy had on their parents.
Speaking on the Netflix docuseries Harry and Meghan the Duke of Sussex said: “I would far rather get destroyed in the Press than play along with this game or this business of trading.
“And to see my brother’s office copy the very same thing that we promised the two of us would never ever do, that was heartbreaking.”
King Charles III and the late Princess Diana were notably engaged in what has come to be known as the War of the Waleses in the run-up to their divorce.
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Diana and Charles both released a series of bombshell comments to either the press or writers as their marriage turned sour, ultimately resulting in the late Queen demanding their divorce.
Royal author Penny Junor told the Channel 5 documentary The Queen and Prince Charles: Mother and Son: “The monarchy was going through a really, really rocky time because the monarchy is supposed to be all about unifying the country.
“What Charles and Diana were doing by being at war with each other was splitting the country.”
During the Netflix documentary, Prince Harry insisted “there’s leaking, but there’s also planting of stories.”
He added: “So if the comms team want to be able to remove a negative story about their principal, they will trade and give you something about someone else’s principal
“So the offices end up working against each other. There’s kind of this weird understanding or acceptance that happens.”
He later reiterated his claims during an interview with ITV broadcaster Tom Bradby, who asked how he would respond to accusations of breaching the Royal Family’s privacy when he himself asked for privacy for his family.
Mr Bradby said: “Some people will say, ‘You have railed against invasions of your privacy all your life,’ but the accusation would be, ‘Here are you invading the privacy of your nearest and dearest without permission,’ that would be the accusation.”
The Duke replied: “That would be the accusation from the people that don’t understand, or don’t want to believe, that my family have been briefing the press.”