The Duke of Sussex’s controversial memoir has become the fastest selling non-fiction book ever as his tell-all tale lambasting the royal family was finally published.
Harry’s headline-grabbing autobiography Spare, which hit the shelves on Tuesday, was boosted into the record books with 400,000 hardback, e-book and audio format copies being snapped up, its publisher said.
The book includes claims that the Prince of Wales physically attacked him and teased him about his panic attacks, and that the King put his own interests above Harry’s and was jealous of the Duchess of Sussex and the Princess of Wales.
In a US broadcast promoting the work, Harry branded Duchess of Cornwall the “villain” and “dangerous”, accusing her of rehabilitating her image at the expense of his.
Larry Finlay, managing director of Transworld Penguin Random House, said: “We always knew this book would fly but it is exceeding even our most bullish expectations.
“As far as we know, the only books to have sold more in their first day are those starring the other Harry (Potter).”
As the duke continued a run of high profile promotional interviews, he said he “would like nothing more” than for his children to have relationships with the royal family.
His remarks about his son and daughter came despite the criticism he has levelled at his brother William, father Charles and stepmother Camilla.
In his first print interview about his autobiography, he told US magazine People that Archie, three, and 19-month-old Lili did have a connection with some of the Windsors, whom he did not name, saying this brought him “great joy”.
He also described his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, as his “guardian angel” and said she is with him “all the time”.
Bookshops in the UK opened early on Tuesday to offer Harry’s book – but queues were sparse after leaks ahead of the publication, with industry experts predicting Spare would be one of the best-selling pre-order titles of the past decade.
It is being sold for £14, not the recommended retail price of £28, in places such as Waterstones and WH Smith as well as online at Amazon.
Just one person was waiting outside Waterstones’ flagship branch in Piccadilly, central London, when it opened at 8am.
Caroline Lennon, 59, who had walked two miles from Bethnal Green in the East End to arrive at 6am, said: “People will criticise me and say, ‘What an idiot for liking Harry. What an idiot for queuing up’, but I don’t care what anyone says.”
Other royal fans had queued for midnight store openings, with a handful waiting outside WH Smith in London’s Victoria station to be among the first to buy a copy.
In his interview with People magazine, which featured a flattering photoshoot, Harry said of his book, which was ghost written by JR Moehringer: “I don’t want to tell anyone what to think of it, and that includes my family. This book and its truths are in many ways a continuation of my own mental health journey.
“It’s a raw account of my life — the good, the bad and everything in between.”
Adding that he was hopeful for reconciliation, the duke said: “I would love nothing more than for our children to have relationships with members of my family, and they do with some, which brings me great joy.”
Harry is known to be close to his cousin Princess Eugenie, who has visited him the US.
Archie and Lili are the grandchildren of the King, but live thousands of miles away from the Windsors in California, and the duke has confessed that he has not spoken to Charles in “quite a while”, and is not in text contact with William at the moment.
Harry is also guesting on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in the US on Tuesday evening.
Images of the more light-hearted interview appeared to show Harry being presented with shots of tequila, and, while trailing the programme, Colbert made jokes about Harry and William’s sibling rivalry, comparing his life to Harry Potter.
“That’s heart-breaking. To be rejected by his older brother at school even though that magic hat sorted them into the same house. What do you think? Hufflepuff? Gryffindor?” Colbert said.
“Stock up on corgis and steal a priceless cultural treasure from one of your colonies, because The Late Show is going imperial.”
Harry has faced criticism for his revelation in Spare that he killed 25 Taliban members during the Afghanistan war.
He told People: “I know from my own healing journey that silence has been the least effective remedy.”
He has also shared frank admissions in his book of drug-taking throughout his life, of losing his virginity to an older woman in a field as a teenager, and getting frostbite on his penis.
The duke revealed how the Duchess of Sussex was quizzed by the Queen about her opinion of Donald Trump the first time the two women met, but “Meg thought politics a no-win game, so she changed the subject to Canada”.
He told how the former Suits star did not recognise the Duke of York, who was holding the Queen’s handbag when he joined them, and thought he was the monarch’s assistant.
Harry also recounted how a “way too upset” William rang him to say “Pa and Camilla’s people had planted a story or stories about him and Kate and the kids”.
And the duke sparked shockwaves in an interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby when he denied branding the royal family racist in his interview with Oprah Winfrey.
He blamed the stance on the British press despite Meghan claiming an unnamed royal raised “concerns” about how dark their unborn son’s skin might be.
The 407-page book sees Harry expressing his frustration at being the “spare to the heir”, his anger at the UK media, his unresolved trauma over the death of his mother, his mental health struggles, his lonely life before meeting Meghan, and the breakdown of his family relationships.