It’s the sacrosanct relationship between two of Britain’s oldest institutions: the monarchy and the press. Like the symbiotic connection between trees and people, both have come to rely on each other for survival. Without the acres of coverage and visibility, the royal family would quite possibly be a shadow of itself without the nation’s newspapers. And without the access, photos, and constant drama, the flagging industry of tabloids and broadsheets in the United Kingdom would be closer to death now than ever.
But this partnership is currently facing a threat. After Prince Harry revealed just how deeply embedded members of his family are with some of the United Kingdom’s newspapers and senior media figures, that historically secretive relationship has been left exposed. The uncovering has left family members and individuals within Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace feeling “rattled,” a source exclusively tells BAZAAR.com.
“There was a feeling that whatever Harry said in his book would just be news today, gone tomorrow,” a palace insider tells BAZAAR. “However, the level of detail given in the book about specific relationships with the media has put it all under the microscope now.”
Indeed. Across the pages of Spare, the Duke of Sussex writes at length about his stepmother Queen Camilla’s close relationships with influential media figures and publications. It’s a move the prince says he understands—given her need to overhaul her image after the death of Princess Diana and ahead of one day becoming queen consort—but also one he says has caused him and others plenty of hurt.
“I had complex feelings about gaining a step-parent who I thought had recently sacrificed me on her personal PR altar,” he writes in the memoir, released today, January 10. “She was the villain. She was the third person in their marriage. She needed to rehabilitate her image.”
He continues, “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 gonna be people or bodies left in the streets because of that.”
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Last month, Camilla was spotted at a Christmas lunch attended by Piers Morgan, Jeremy Clarkson, and several senior newspaper editors. And last summer, the queen consort and King Charles III hired a former seasoned Daily Mail editor to head up their communications team.
In the book, Harry also connects the dots to leaks that fed in to some of the most damaging stories about himself and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Writing about the now-infamous spat between Meghan and Kate about bridesmaids dresses (U.K. tabloids reported that Meghan made Kate cry, although it was later revealed that it was in fact the other way around), the prince points out that the false story only leaked after William and Kate let details slip during a dinner with Charles and Camilla—noting that it was evidently Charles who gave the story to the press.
As Harry writes in Spare, “My problem has never been with the monarchy, not the concept of monarchy. It’s been with the press and the sick relationship evolved between it and the Palace.”
Harry’s memoir revelations have reportedly left brother Prince William “devastated,” but a source adds, “He’s not ignoring the things his brother has shared. The dust needs to settle, but … this has been food for thought.”
Adds a former longtime palace aide, “The public-facing side of the institution may be putting on a dignified silence, but make no mistake that behind closed doors many conversations will be taking place about Spare and what to do next. Yes, there is a sense that a lot of the things that came up, particularly pertaining to the Sussexes’ exit, will be forgotten in time … but the public chatter now happening about relationships with the press, and the actions that have come alongside that, may result in a more cautious approach in the future. A lot of people are watching.”
Thousands of readers around the world preordered the book ahead of its release, and many are still rushing to pick up their copy in person today, on its first day of sale. A spokesperson for Penguin Random House confirms to BAZAAR that already, Spare has become Britain’s best-selling nonfiction title of all time. The duke’s memoir has, so far, recorded a sales figure of 400,000 copies across hardback, e-book, and audio formats.
For Harry, the work continues, with a scheduled Tuesday appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert alongside members of the Paramount Veterans Network, an organization providing networking opportunities to veterans, active duty, National Guard, and Reserve members for both personal development and employment.
The Duke of Sussex told Good Morning America that he hopes the truths shared in Spare will lead to his family discussing the issues that tore them apart. “If we can get to the point of reconciliation, that will have a ripple effect across the world,” he said. “I genuinely believe that, and that’s kind of what is pushing me. And if that doesn’t happen, then that’s very sad.”
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.