The recent Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan didn’t offer much in the way of revelations for avid royal watchers. But Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, did detail clashes he had with his brother Prince William, heir to the throne. Now, leaked excerpts from Harry’s forthcoming memoir Spare dive into greater detail about the rift between Harry, William, and their wives.
Harry claimed in the Netflix series, which was released last month, that in January 2020 his brother had “screamed” at him in front of their grandmother, the Queen, about Harry’s plan to leave England with his wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. But Spare, which was mistakenly put on sale in Spain days before its official Jan. 10 publication date, reportedly dives into far more detail about how Harry’s once-close relationship with William, heir to the throne, deteriorated over the last several years—including an explosive scene in which Harry says that William grabbed him by the collar and threw him to the ground in a 2019 argument about Meghan.
The Guardian, Us Weekly, and The Telegraph say that they have acquired copies of Spare, and Page Six claims to have gotten its hands on excerpts. Many of the published tidbits, translated from Spanish, focus on the battle between the two sets of younger royals.
For a brief period, Harry and Meghan, along with William and his wife Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, were known as the Fab Four. Harry says in Spare that things got off to a promising start even before he introduced Meghan to his family, when he realized that his brother and sister-in-law were fans of Meghan’s TV show Suits. “I casually mentioned that there was … a new woman in my life. They surged forward. ’Who is she?’” he writes, according to Us Weekly. “She’s an actress. ‘Oh?’ She’s American. ‘Oh.’ On a show called Suits. Their mouths fell open. They turned to each other. Then Willy turned to me and said: ’F—k off?’”
Harry was “baffled” by his brother’s response “until Willy and Kate explained that they were regular—nay, religious—viewers” of the legal drama. “All this time I’d thought Willy and Kate might not welcome Meg into the family, but now I had to worry about them hounding her for an autograph,” he writes.
That goodwill deteriorated in the lead-up to Harry and Meghan’s nuptials. The building drama between the couples, as described in leaks from Spare, ranges from relatable in-law squabbles over wedding details to much higher-stakes confrontations. Here are all the major moments that have been revealed from the book so far that explain what broke Harry and Meghan’s relationship with William and Kate.
Harry partially blames William and Kate for his poor decision to wear a Nazi costume
Long before Meghan entered the picture, Harry made what he called, in an interview for the Netflix docuseries, “one of the biggest mistakes of my life.” Harry donned a Nazi costume, complete with swastika, for a dress-up party in 2005. The prince was rightfully condemned in the press at the time, particularly considering the royal family’s complicated history with Nazi sympathizers: Harry’s great grand-uncle, the Duke of Windsor, famously met with Hitler and has been accused by historians of conspiring with the Nazis, while the sisters of Harry’s grandfather, Prince Phillip, were married to Nazis.
In Spare, Harry says that the dress code for the costume party (also attended by William and Kate) was a “native and colonial” theme, Us Weekly reports. As time ran out to search for a costume, he searched for something to wear in a place that goes unnamed in the leaked excerpts. “I went up and down the rows, sifting through the racks, seeing nothing I liked,” he writes. “With time running out I narrowed my options to two. A British pilot’s uniform. And a sand-colored Nazi uniform. With a swastika armband. And a flat cap.”
He goes on, “I phoned Willy and Kate, asked what they thought. Nazi uniform, they said. I rented it, plus a silly mustache, and went back to the house. I tried it all on. They both howled.”
This is not the first time it’s been reported that William may have had some involvement in Harry’s outfit choice. The author Robert Lacey wrote in his 2020 book Battle of Brothers that “Harry chose his costume in conjunction with his elder brother,” and that “Harry resented the fact that William got away so lightly.” Some have speculated that the incident, which Harry has never lived down, could be the root of some bitterness toward his brother and sister-in-law.
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge stands on the steps with her mother Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge after the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England
Jane Barlow—WPA Pool/Getty Images
Meghan said Kate had “baby brain”
In Spare, Harry tries to set the story straight on a much-reported kerfuffle over bridesmaid dresses between Meghan and Kate before Meghan and Harry’s wedding. The British tabloids initially reported that a disagreement between the bride and her future sister-in-law ended with Kate in tears. During Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, Meghan claimed that, in fact, she was the one who wept.
According to Harry, the pre-wedding fights kicked into high gear when the two women were discussing wedding day rehearsals, and Kate forgot some insignificant aspect of the nuptial plans. Meghan suggested that the detail slipped Kate’s mind because she had “baby brain,” according to The Telegraph. Kate had given birth to Prince Louis on April 23, 2018, 28 days before Harry and Meghan got married at Windsor Castle. Harry writes that Kate was offended by the comment.
Then, four days before the wedding, Kate’s daughter Princess Charlotte tried on her bridesmaids’ dress and found it was far too big. Harry claims that Kate asked that the dress be completely remade, while Meghan countered that her tailor could alter the ill-fitting frock. Harry writes that after the argument over the dress between Meghan and Kate, he returned home to find Meghan on the floor sobbing. He adds that Kate visited the next day with flowers and a card to apologize, a detail that Meghan herself described in the Oprah interview.
The two couples met for a reconciliatory tea at Kensington Palace after Meghan and Harry’s honeymoon. Harry claims that Kate confronted Meghan about the “baby brain” comment, saying, “You talked about my hormones. We are not close enough for you to talk about my hormones.” According to Harry, his wife looked confused by Kate’s comments and insisted that that was the way she spoke to her friends. Will then pointed at Meghan, called her “rude,” and said this wasn’t the way people in Britain behaved. Meghan, in turn, told Will to “take your finger out of my face,” Harry recalls.
Harry concludes, “Had it really come to this? Shouting at each other about place cards and hormones?”
British-American culture clashes
As William’s comments about British behavior suggest, Harry writes that many of the quarrels between the two couples centered on cultural differences between the U.S. and England.
Harry writes that, at the same tea, he told his brother and sister-in-law that he and Meghan “weren’t too pleased” that William and Kate had apparently rearranged seating assignments at their table during Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception, according to Us Weekly. The bride and groom had “followed the American tradition” of seating couples together, but the Cambridges supposedly “didn’t like” the setup and changed seats, separating couples as is common in England.
Another “awkward moment” also highlighted a cultural clash between Meghan and Kate. During the foursome’s Royal Foundation Forum appearance in 2018, Meghan realized she forgot her lip gloss and asked to borrow Kate’s, a request Harry describes as “an American thing,” according to Page Six. “Kate, taken aback, went into her handbag and reluctantly pulled out a small tube,” Harry writes. “Meg squeezed some onto her finger and applied it to her lips. Kate grimaced.”
Harry goes on to write that the four “should’ve been able to laugh about” the moment, but the press “sensed” it was “something bigger.” The coverage of that Royal Foundation Forum event focused heavily on Meghan’s politics, rather than the foursome’s charitable work. Harry speculates that Kate was “on edge,” as she was now “going to be compared to, and forced to compete with, Meg.”
As Harry and Meghan discussed in the Netflix docuseries, the U.K. tabloids added fuel to growing tensions between the two couples, damning Meghan for behaviors that earned Kate praise—from the way she held her baby bump to her taste for avocados; stirring up conflict with sensational stories about Meghan and Kate’s dislike of one another; and accusing Meghan of bearing full responsibility for the couple’s decision to step back from their royal roles.
In the series, Meghan opened up about how the press drove her to anxiety and depression, saying, “You are making people want to kill me. It’s not just some tabloid. It’s not just some story. You are making me scared. Are we safe? Are the doors locked? That’s real. Are my babies safe? And you’ve created it for what? Because you’re bored? It sells your papers?”
More Must-Reads From TIME