It has been three decades since the damning revelations in Diana: Her True Story rocked the royal family, and now, Prince Harry is poised to follow in his late mother’s footsteps with his hotly-anticipated memoir.
While we might have to wait until Christmas to get our hands on a copy – the publication date has been pushed back to avoid a bookshelf clash with Michelle Obama’s latest tome – we’ve been assured it will be an “intimate, heartfelt account of the experiences, adventures, losses and life lessons that have helped shape him”.
And, we’re told it won’t just be Buckingham Palace breaking a cold sweat over his “accurate and wholly truthful” storytelling, as his wife Meghan is said to be reeling from the finer details of his past relationships and former party boy antics.
A source close to the couple says, “This narrative that Meghan essentially stood over Harry as he wrote the book is way off the mark. He and [ghostwriter] JR Moeringer spent months going through his private photo album, journals, emails and so forth. It naturally brought up some extremely raw feelings and surprise anecdotes, many of which came as a huge shock to Meghan when she read through the manuscript.”
And some of those shocks are said to include tales of former flames. From 2004 to 2010, Harry, 37, was in what became widely perceived as a turbulent on/off relationship with Chelsy Davy. During their highly-publicised romance, Harry turned a blind eye to those strict royal PDA rules multiple times by kissing the Zimbabwean student in public.
There was much speculation over why they ended, ranging from her lack of desire to be part of the royal family, to the toll that their “incompatible” life choices were taking. Speaking in 2016 about this period in her life, Chelsy, 36, who now runs her own jewellery brand, confessed, “It was so full-on, crazy, scary, and uncomfortable. I found it very difficult when it was bad. I couldn’t cope. I was young, I was trying to be a normal kid and it was horrible.”
Harry also dated actress and model Cressida Bonas between 2012 and 2014. Their split was understood to have been amicable, with reasons for their parting rumoured said to be due to media scrutiny and her wanting to focus on her career.
If Harry follows through with his promise of a tell-all memoir, his former flames are bound to crop up, which won’t just be testing for Chelsy and Cressida, but also Meghan, 41. Our insider adds, “Harry didn’t want to brush over his past romances, so Chelsy and Cressida are going to find it tough. But there are tons of other revelations about his partying and some of the terrible choices he made that are tough to sugar-coat, to say the least.”
It was 2016 when Harry embarked on his relationship with actress Meghan, who at that time, was predominantly recognised for her role as Rachel Zane in legal drama Suits. They married in 2018 and share two children, Archie, three, and Lilibet, one. But there was a time when Harry lived a life a far cry from his settled (and arguably more low-key) life in Santa Barbara, where he currently lives with his family after he and Meghan sensationally quit royal life in January 2020. He spent much of his twenties hitting headlines for his wild antics on the party circuit, namely in London nightclubs, during which time his excessive drinking and drug-dabbling came to the surface. Years prior, when Harry was just 16, his father Prince Charles had encouraged a visit to rehab after the teen had been caught smoking cannabis and drinking at Highgrove House and a local pub.
In 2005, the prince was embroiled in controversy when he foolishly wore a Nazi costume to a friend’s fancy dress party, something he later apologised for. And, if you cast your mind back to 2012, his notorious trip to Las Vegas became a global talking point when naked photos of him emerged in the press.
“Meghan knows Harry had a very lively past – she wouldn’t have found him nearly as appealing if he hadn’t lived life to the full and got everything out of his system before they settled down and committed to a long-term future,” our insider says.
“They’ve talked about what each of them got up to in their younger years and there’s no overriding issue, resentment, or insecurity there from Harry towards Meghan or vice versa. But certain things were glossed over, like Harry’s various hook-ups and flirtations, and the extent of his wild antics on the London party scene, which Meghan’s now finding out a lot more about.”
Harry has previously addressed his laddish behaviour, admitting that growing up in the spotlight of the royal family – as well as losing his mother at such a young age – had a profound effect on him.
Last year, in one of his most candid interviews to date, he reflected on losing his mum in 1997 aged 12, after she was killed in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi. In a bid to “mask” his grief, Harry confessed to using alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism. “I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling,” he said, recalling that he’d drink “a week’s worth of alcohol” on a Friday or Saturday night, “Not because I was enjoying it, but because I was trying to mask something.”
With guidance and gentle prompting from Meghan, Harry sought counselling to help process his mother’s death. heat’s source continues, “The process of writing this book has brought out a range of feelings for Harry. It’s been very difficult at times from an emotional standpoint, but ultimately, he’s found it extremely cathartic getting his
past down on paper, and Meghan totally respects that.”
As well as relationships and his raucous twenties, the book will touch on a string of other poignant topics in his memoir, such as Harry’s childhood in the public eye, his army career and service in Afghanistan, as well as his marriage to Meghan and becoming a father – all of which unavoidably link with his royal life. We’re told, “Harry’s proud to be writing his truth. He maintains a firm belief that his past and the things he’s dealt with – good and bad – have shaped who he is today and that he can use them to help himself and others. He’s not hiding anything from Meghan and feels grateful to have her trust and backing.”
Harry’s own memoir aside, the Sussexes have been a hot literary topic since stepping down from royal life. Tom Bower’s recent bombshell read, Revenge: Meghan, Harry And The War Between The Windsors was said to have left Meghan seething after claims Harry’s friends thought he was “nuts” for being with her. And with Meghan’s journalist friend Omid Scobie planning to release a follow-up book to his controversial tome, Finding Freedom, which will “get the world talking”, it seems the couple’s vision for a quiet life is a long way off, as they continue to pique interest over the world.