Romance or tragedy this is now an indelible chapter in the history of our monarchy, Rebecca Barry reports on the launch of Prince Harry's autobiography
The Duke of Sussex’s memoir is the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever, recording figures of 400,000 copies so far across hardback, ebook and audio formats on its first day of publication, its publishers have said.
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).”
Bookshops in the UK opened early on Tuesday as Harry’s tell-all book Spare hit the shelves – but queues initially appeared sparse following leaks ahead of the publication and early sales in Spain.
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.
He has faced particular criticism for his revelation in Spare that he killed 25 Taliban members during the Afghanistan war.
Prince Harry also shared frank admissions of drug-taking throughout his life and of losing his virginity to an older woman in a field as a teenager.
Waterstones has said Spare was one of its biggest pre-order titles of the last decade, while the book also reached number one in the UK Amazon bestseller charts on Tuesday and was listed as a bestseller on the company’s audiobook arm Audible.
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.
At WH Smith in Victoria station, staff opened the doors at midnight to a swarm of reporters and customers who gathered around stacks of the book, which were sitting on a table wrapped in sealed black packaging.
The first customers were handed copies as photographers captured the moment before staff started putting half-price stickers on to copies and stacking them on specially-designed shelving units near the front of the shop.
Waiting outside the shop, bartender Sasha Pursell, 27, who has moved to London from Melbourne, Australia, said: “I’m just intrigued. I’ve heard so much press about the book and it’s also just a bit exciting – I’ve never been to a midnight release.”
Asked about the criticism surrounding the book, she said: “Yes, it can be seen as a betrayal to the royal family, but, at the same time, I feel like a lot of lies have been spewed about him.
“It can go both ways. I don’t think either party is in the right or the wrong.”
In his interview with People magazine, Prince 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.”
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