Wednesday, 8 Feb 2023

‘Significant’ Queen Mother error in new Harry book sparks accuracy row

GMA tease explosive Prince Harry interview ahead of ‘Spare’

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The accuracy of Prince Harry’s new memoir has been called into question after the Duke described the emotional moment he was told the Queen Mother had died – but in a way that does not appear to match reality.

In Spare, the Duke’s new book published today, he evocatively described the scene at his school in Eton, even mentioning the “warm weather” when he received the news over the phone. However, reports at the time indicate that the 17-year-old Prince was actually skiing on the icy slopes of Switzerland when he was told of his great-grandmother’s death.

Highlighting the apparent contradiction, Royal reporter Cameron Walker wrote for GB News that the “significant mistake” in the book “raises major questions about accuracy.”

Harry wrote in his memoir: “At Eton, while studying, I took a call. I wish I could remember whose voice was at the other end; a courtier’s, I believe.

“I recall that it was just before Easter, the weather was bright and warm, light slanting through my window, filled with vivid colours. Your Royal Highness, the Queen Mother has died.”

However, news reports from the time suggest this version of events could not have happened. When Queen Mother Elizabeth, 101 years old, died in her sleep at Royal Lodge, Windsor, Harry was skiing in Klosters, Switzerland, with his father Charles and brother William.

The Duke was snapped arriving back in the UK the day after her death on March 30, 2002, which was also after the point at which the news had been made public.

Mr Walker remarked on the inconsistency: “It raises questions and concerns – are there any other inconsistencies in this book?”

A former royal correspondent, who covered the Wales’ Ski trip at the time, confirmed to the outlet that British journalists had recently arrived back in the UK from a pre-agreed photocall in Switzerland when the Queen Mother died.

Meanwhile, Charles, William and Harry had been left in Klosters, where they spent some private time together as the Queen Mother’s condition deteriorated.

After Buckingham Palace publicly announced her death, then-Prince Charles’ spokeswoman issued a statement which said he was still with both his sons in Klosters, adding: “He [Charles] is devastated. His only wish is to get home as soon as he can.”

The fact that the royal sons were still in Switzerland at the time was further backed up by contemperaneous reports by the BBC and the Daily Mail.

This does not suggest the Duke of Sussex intentionally lied in his memoir, and a former insider has pointed out this could be a simple “honest mistake”.

But Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told GB News that it was a “serious error in a hugely controversial book” which leaves one to wonder “how many other factual errors are to be found within its pages.”

One such inaccuracy has already been spotted, regarding a present the Duke claimed his mother, Princess Diana, bought for him before her death – although Prince Harry did concede his memory may have been fuzzy regarding this even.

Harry wrote that he was given a present by his aunt, Diana’s sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale, on his 13th birthday.

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In a description of the day, the Prince wrote that he was allowed to choose two flavours of sorbet, and so picked blackcurrant and mango because they were “Mummy’s favourites”.

He said he had been thinking of her when “out of nowhere”, his aunt Sarah appeared, and gave him an Xbox as a present.

However, the Xbox would not be released by Microsoft until four years later, in 2001.

Harry wrote of the event: “That’s the story, anyway. It’s appeared in many accounts of my life, as gospel, and I have no idea if it’s true. Pa said Mummy hurt her head, but perhaps I was the one with brain damage? As a defence mechanism, most likely, my memory was no longer recording things quite as it once did.”

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