Officially, Buckingham Palace has maintained what it must hope is being seen as a dignified silence in the face of Prince Harry’s new memoir Spare.
However, the first signs of pushback strategy are now starting to filter out from behind palace walls, with friends of the late Queen Elizabeth II telling senior reporters at the Daily Telegraph that Harry and Meghan’s “ambushing” of the family, by making shocking revelations to the media in the final years of her life, “had an impact” on her health before she died in September last year.
The Daily Beast was told last summer that the queen was suffering from bone cancer, subsequently confirmed by an unofficial biography by her and her husband’s friend Gyles Brandreth, which the palace has not contested.
It therefore seems unimaginable that Harry and Meghan were not at the very least aware of the fragile state of his grandmother’s health as they made damaging allegations in TV and media interviews. The queen was also worried what further revelations would be made in the Prince’s book, Sparewhich was originally due to be published last year, the paper said.
The Telegraph report is by royal correspondent Victoria Ward and associate editor Gordon Rayner, both highly credible and experienced reporters.
It quoted “friends of the late queen” as saying that the prospect of the book “was playing on her mind in her last months,” with one source saying: “This did have an impact on the queen’s health in her final year. It did take its toll.”
The queen went to great lengths to try and keep lines of communication with Harry open, describing him as “much-loved” in public statements, but the friend said his status as a “much-loved grandson” made the “almost weekly” attacks even worse for her.
One source, described as a “friend of the late queen” told the Telegraph: “She never wanted to deal with confrontation, even going as far back as the start of Prince Andrew’s troubles, and this stuff was shoved in her face on an almost weekly basis.
“It had an impact. She had lost Prince Philip, and then the constant ambushing of the Royal family by a much-loved grandson took its toll. At that stage in your life and your reign, you just don’t need that on top of everything else.”
A second source, described as “well-placed” confirmed they had no doubt that the queen’s health suffered as a result of the Sussex’s media attacks.
The first source added: “He says he wants a reconciliation then he sticks this enormous machete in their backs,” and mused, “How are their kids going to be part of a family now? It’s out of the question.”
Harry has also been accused of hypocritically invading his family member’s privacy.
One extraordinarily personal revelation was that Charles told Harry he was “persecuted” at school and still carries around a childhood teddy bear.
A “royal source” told the Telegraph: “It is hypocritical for him to talk about other people’s mental health. The king may have spoken about his troubles at [school] in public, but it’s not for Harry to go into all that. The problem is he just doesn’t have any grown-ups advising him.”
Another source said: “It is very hard to understand how he has squared that in his own mind, given his passion for protecting his private life.”
The development came as Harry’s book was greeted with a mixture of disbelief, mockery and anger in the UK
A focus of particular criticism has been Harry’s decision to publicly declare that he had killed 25 enemy combatants in Afghanistan and that he regarded those he killed as “chess pieces” not people.
Disquiet has continued to grow this weekend with critics saying he has endangered himself and his family and provided terror recruiters with a valuable propaganda tool.
Former British Army Commander, Colonel Richard Kemp wrote in the Telegraph: “The Duke has now created a separate problem for himself. In essentially bragging about killing members of the Taliban, who now rule an entire country, he has placed an extraordinary target on his own back. His apparent disregard for life might feed the jihadist propaganda machine that is used to inspire Islamist attacks. Already, a Taliban spokesperson is calling for the involvement of international courts, where ‘criminals like Harry who proudly confess their crimes’ will be prosecuted.”
“What an own-goal from a man whose concerns about his own security have been well-rehearsed to the extent he has taken legal action against the Home Office for what he sees as their failure to provide him with adequate protection.”
And celebrity ex-Marine, Pen Farthing, who runs a Kabul animal rescue center, posted on Twitter: “Well I was a Royalist until today… Cheers #PrinceHarry You have been very badly advised I would probably say. And glad you thought through the security implications of those of us still out in #Afghanistan trying to bring about some good. #idiot #notmyprince.”
Colonel Tim Collins, a legendary leader famed in the army for a pre-battle speech he made before the Iraq war, told Forces News: “Harry has now turned against the other family, the military, that once embraced him, having trashed his birth family,” and condemned his “rejection of family and comradely love that he badly needs.”