Prince Harry: The 60 Minutes Interview Transcript (2024)

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the duke and duch*ess of Sussex, "stepped back" from their royal duties in 2020. But last month Prince Harry attended his father's coronation was an awkward appearance for the 38-year-old prince after the release earlier this year of his searing memoir "Spare" - the title a nod to his backup role in the line of succession. As we first reported in January, the book is a stunning break with royal protocol. It's a deeply personal account of Prince Harry's decades-long struggle with grief after the death of his mother Princess Diana, and a revealing look at his fractured relationships with his father, King Charles, his stepmother, Queen Camilla, and his brother Prince William...the heir to his spare.

Anderson Cooper: You write about a contentious meeting you had with him in 2021. You said, "I looked at Willy, really looked at him maybe for the first time since we were boys. I took it all in, his familiar scowl, which had always been his default in dealings with me, his alarming baldness, more advanced than my own, his famous resemblance to Mummy which was fading with time, with age." That's pretty cutting.

Prince Harry: I don't see it as cutting at all. Um, you know, my brother and I love each other. I love him deeply. There has been a lot of pain between the two of us, especially the last six years. None of anything I've written, anything that I've included is ever intended to hurt my family. But it does give a full picture of the situation as we were growing up, and also squashes this idea that somehow my wife was the one that destroyed the relationship between these two brothers.

Anderson Cooper: I think so many people around the world watched you and your brother grow up and feel like you two were inseparable. And yet in reading the book, you have lived separate lives from the time your mom died.

Prince Harry: Uh-huh (AFFIRM)

Anderson Cooper: Even when you were in the same school, in high school…

Prince Harry: Sibling rivalry.

Anderson Cooper: Your brother told you, "Pretend we don't know each other."

Prince Harry: Yeah, and at the time it hurt. I couldn't make sense of it. I was like, "What do you mean? We're now at the same school. Like, I haven't seen you for ages, now we get to hang out together." He's like, "No, no, no, when we're at school we don't know each other." And I took that personally. But yes, you're absolutely right, you hit the nail on the head. Like, we had a very similar traumatic experience, and then we-- we dealt with it two very different ways.

Prince Harry: The 60 Minutes Interview Transcript (1)

Anderson Cooper: William had tried to talk to you occasionally about your mom, but, as a child you could not-- you couldn't respond.

Prince Harry: For me, it was never a case of, "I don't want to talk about it with you." I just don't know how to talk about it. I never ever thought that maybe talking about it with my brother or with anybody else at that point would be therapeutic.

In August 1997, Harry and William were vacationing in Scotland with their father. Harry was 12, William, 15. They were asleep at Balmoral Castle on August 31st, when Harry was awakened by his father who told him his mother had been in a car crash in Paris.

Anderson Cooper: In the book you write, "He says, 'They tried, darling boy. I'm afraid she didn't make it.' These phrases remain in my mind like darts on a board," you say. Did-- did you cry?

Prince Harry: No. No. Never shed a single tear at that point. I was in shock, you know? Twelve years old, sort of 7:00-- 7:30 in the morning early. Your father comes in, sits on your bed, puts his hand on your knee and tells you "There's been an accident." I-- I couldn't believe.

Anderson Cooper: And you write in the book that, "Pa didn't hug me. He wasn't great at showing emotions under normal circ*mstances. But his hand did fall once more on my knee and he said, 'It's going to be okay.'" But after that, nothing was okay for a long time.

Prince Harry: No nothing-- nothing was okay.

Harry says his memories of the next few days are fragmented. But he does remember this: greeting mourners outside Kensington Palace in London the day before his mother's funeral.

Anderson Cooper: When you see those videos now, what do you think?

Prince Harry: I think it's bizarre, because I see William and me smiling. I remember the guilt that I felt.

Anderson Cooper: Guilt about?

Prince Harry: The fact that the people that we were meeting were showing more emotion than we were showing, maybe more emotion than we even felt.

Anderson Cooper: They were crying, but you weren't.

Prince Harry: There was a lotta tears. I talk about how wet people's hands were. And I couldn't understand it at first.

Anderson Cooper: Their hands were wet from crying--

Prince Harry: Their hands were wet from wiping their own tears away. I do remember one of the strangest parts to it was taking flowers from people and then placing those flowers with the rest of them. As if I was some sort of middle person for their grief. And that really stood out for me.

The funeral, on a cool September morning, was watched by as many as 2.5 billion people around the world. Perhaps the most indelible image: Prince Harry and his brother, walking behind their mother's casket on its way to Westminster Abbey.

Anderson Cooper: What do you remember about that walk?

Prince Harry: How quiet it was. I remember, the occasional wail and screaming of someone. I remember the horse hooves on the road.

Prince Harry: The bridles of the horses, the gun carriage, the wheels, the occasional gravel stone underneath your shoe. But mainly the-- the silence.

After the service, Princess Diana's body was brought for burial to her family's ancestral estate, Althorp.

Prince Harry: Once my mother's coffin actually went into the ground, that was the first time that I actually cried. Yeah, there was never another time.

Anderson Cooper: All through your teenage years, you did-- you didn't cry about it?

Prince Harry: No.

Anderson Cooper: You didn't believe she was dead.

Prince Harry: Unh-uh (NEGATIVE). For a long-- for a long time, I just refused to accept that she was-- she was gone. Um, part of, you know, she would never do this to us, but also part of, maybe this is all part of a plan.

Anderson Cooper: I mean, you really believed that maybe she had just decided to disappear for a time?

Prince Harry: For a time, and then that she would call us and that we would go and join her, yeah.

Anderson Cooper: How long did you believe that?

Prince Harry: Years. Many, many years. And William and I talked about it as well. He had-- he had um, similar thoughts.

Anderson Cooper: You write in the book, "I'd often say it to myself first thing in the morning, 'Maybe this is the day. Maybe this is the day that she's gonna reappear.'"

Prince Harry: Yeah, hope. I had huge amounts of hope

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He held onto that hope into adulthood. When Harry was 20, he asked to see the police report about the crash that killed his mother, her boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed and their driver Henri Paul while they were being pursued by paparazzi in a Paris tunnel.

Anderson Cooper: The files contained photographs of the crash scene. Why did you want to see it?

Prince Harry: Mainly proof. Proof that she was in the car. Proof that she was injured. And proof that the very paparazzi that chased her into the tunnel were the ones that were taking photographs-- photographs of her lying half dead on the back seat of the car.

Anderson Cooper: You write in the book, "I hadn't been aware before this moment," talking about looking at the pictures of the crash scene, "that the last thing Mummy saw on this earth was a flash bulb."

Prince Harry: Yep

Anderson Cooper: That's what you saw in the pictures?

Prince Harry: Uh-huh (AFFIRM) (good face). Well they were - the pictures showed the reflection of a group of photographs taking photographs through the window, and the reflection on the window was-- was them.

He only saw some of the crash photos, his private secretary and advisor dissuaded him from looking at the rest.

Prince Harry: All I saw was the back of my mum's head-- slumped on the back seat. There were other more gruesome photographs, but I will be eternally grateful to him for denying me the ability to inflict pain on myself by seeing that. Because that's the kinda stuff that sticks in your mind forever.

Harry says he believed his mother might stillbe alive until he was 23 and visited Paris for the first time.

Anderson Cooper: You told your driver, "I want to go to the tunnel where my mom died?"

Prince Harry: I wanted to see whether it was possible driving at the speed that Henri Paul was driving that you could lose control of a car and plow into a pillar killing almost everybody in that car. I need to take this journey. I need to ride the same route--

Anderson Cooper: The same tunnel, the same speed--

Prince Harry: All of it.

Anderson Cooper: --your mother was going.

Prince Harry: Yup. Because William and I had already been told, "The event was like a bicycle chain. If you remove one of those chains, the end result would not have happened." And the paparazzi chasing was part of that. But yet, everybody got away with it.

Harry writes he and his brother weren't satisfied with the results of a 2006 investigation by London's Metropolitan Police, concluding Diana's driver, Henri Paul, had been drinking and the crash was a "tragic accident."

Prince Harry: William and I considered reopening the inquest. Because there were so many gaps and so many holes in it. Which just didn't add up and didn't make sense.

Anderson Cooper: Would you still like to do that?

Prince Harry: I don't even know if it's an option now. But no, I think-- brrrr-- would I like to do that now? It's a hell of a question, Anderson.

Anderson Cooper: Do you feel you have the answers that you need to have about what happened to your mom?

Prince Harry: Truth be known, no. I don't think I do. And I don't think my brother does either. I don't think the world does. Um - do I need any more than I already know? No. I don't think it would change much.

Harry now says it wasn't until he served in combat with the British Army in Afghanistan that he finally found purpose and a sense of normalcy.

Prince Harry: My military career saved me in many regard.

Anderson Cooper: How so?

Prince Harry: Got me out of the spotlight from the-- from the U.K. press. I was able to focus on a purpose larger than myself, to be wearing the same uniform as everybody else, to feel normal for the first time in my life. And accomplish some of the biggest challenges that I ever had. You know, I was training to become an Apache helicopter pilot. You don't get a pass for being a prince.

Anderson Cooper: The Apache doesn't give a crap about who you are.

Prince Harry: No, there's-- there's no prince autopilot button you (LAUGH) can press and just whff-- takes you away. I was a really good candidate for the military. I was a young man in my 20s suffering from shock. But I was now in the front seat of an Apache shooting it, flying it, monitoring four radios simultaneously and being there to save and help anybody that was on the-- on the ground with a radio screaming, "We need support, we need air support." That was my calling. I felt healing from that weirdly.

Anderson Cooper: And that multi-tasking the brain work of that, that felt good to you?

Prince Harry: It felt like I was turning pain into a purpose. I didn't have the awareness at the time that I was living my life in adrenaline, and that was the case from age 12, from the moment that I was told that my mom had died.

Anderson Cooper: you say, "War didn't begin in Afghanistan. It began in August 1997."

Prince Harry: Yeah. The war for me unknowingly was when my mum died.

Anderson Cooper: Who were you fighting?

Prince Harry: Myself. I had a huge amount of frustration and blame towards the British press for their part in it.

Anderson Cooper: Even at 12 at that young you were feeling that toward the British press?

Prince Harry: Yeah. I mean, it was obvious to us as kids the British press' part in our mother's misery and I had a lot of anger inside of me that luckily, I never expressed to anybody. But I resorted to drinking heavily. Because I wanted to numb the feeling, or I wanted to distract myself from how… whatever I was thinking. And I would, you know, resort to drugs as well.

Harry admits he smoked pot and used cocaine. And he writes that in his late 20s he felt "hopeless" and "lost."

Prince Harry: There was this weight on my chest that I felt for so many years that I was never able to cry. So I was constantly trying to find a way to cry, but-- in even sitting on my sofa and going over as many memories as I could muster up about my mum. And sometimes I watched videos online.

Anderson Cooper: Of your mom?

Prince Harry: Of my mum.

Anderson Cooper: Hoping to cry?

Prince Harry: Yup.

Anderson Cooper: And you couldn't.

Prince Harry: I couldn't.

He sought out help from a therapist for the first time seven years ago. And he reveals he's also tried more experimental treatments.

Anderson Cooper: You write in the book about psychedelics, Ayahuasca, psilocybin, mushrooms.

Prince Harry: I would never recommend people to do this recreationally. But doing it with the right people if you are suffering from a huge amount of loss, grief or trauma, then these things have a way of working as a medicine.

Anderson Cooper: They showed you something. What did they show you?

Prince Harry: For me, they cleared the windscreen, the windshield the misery of loss. They cleared away this idea that I had in my head that-- that my mother, that I needed to cry to prove to my mother that I missed her. When in fact, all she wanted was for me to be happy.

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Prince Harry says he's found that happiness with his wife in California, but he's far from at peace with the royal family.

As we first reported in January, Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" is anything but spare in its unflattering portrayal of the royal family, especially his stepmother Camilla. She married then-Prince Charles in 2005, though the two had been romantically involved on and off for decades. When Princess Diana famously referred to Camilla as the third person in her marriage, the British tabloids ran with it, and Prince Harry has never forgotten.Prince Harry: She was the villain. She was the third person in their marriage. She needed to rehabilitate her image.

Anderson Cooper: You and your brother both directly asked your dad not to marry Camilla?

Prince Harry: Yes.

Anderson Cooper: Why?

Prince Harry: We didn't think it was necessary. We thought that it was gonna cause more harm than good and that if he was now with his person, that-- surely that's enough. Why go that far when you don't necessarily need to? We wanted him to be happy. And we saw how happy he was with her. So, at the time, it was, "Ok."

Anderson Cooper: You wrote that she started a campaign in the British press to pave the way for a marriage. And you wrote, "I even wanted Camilla to be happy. Maybe she'd be less dangerous if she was happy." How was she dangerous?

Prince Harry: Because of the need for her to rehabilitate her image.

Anderson Cooper: That made her dangerous?

Prince Harry: 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 of 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 street because of that.

Harry says over the years, he was one of those bodies. He accuses Camilla and even his father, at times, of using him or William to get better tabloid coverage for themselves. Prince Harry writes, Camilla, "sacrificed me on her personal P.R. altar."

Prince Harry: If you are led to believe, as a member of the family, that being on the front page, having positive headlines, positive stories written about you, is going to improve your reputation or increase the chances of you being accepted as monarch by the British public, then that's what you're gonna do.

In his book, Harry writes that when he introduced Meghan Markle to his family in 2016, his father initially took a liking to her, but William was skeptical, disdainfully referring to Meghan as "an American actress." Though Harry doesn't specify who – he says other members of the royal family were uneasy as well.

Prince Harry: Right from the beginning, before they even had a chance to get to know her. And the U.K. press jumped on that. And here we are.

Anderson Cooper: And what was that based on, that mistrust?

Prince Harry: The fact that she was American, an actress, divorced, Black, biracial with a Black mother. Those were just four of the typical stereotypes that is-- becomes a feeding frenzy for the British press.

Anderson Cooper: But all those things within the family also were-- were sources of mistrust,

Prince Harry: Yes. You know, my family read the tabloids, you know? It's laid out-- at breakfast when everyone comes together. So, whether you walk around saying you believe it or not, it's still-- it's still leaving an imprint in your mind. So if you have that judgment based on a stereotype right at the beginning, it's very, very hard to get over that. And a large part of it for the family, but also the British press and numerous other people is, like, "He's changed. She must be a witch. He's changed." As opposed to yeah, I did change, and I'm really glad I changed. Because rather than getting drunk, falling out of clubs, taking drugs, I had now found the love of my life, and I now had the opportunity to start a family with her.

Soon after their relationship became public, Harry insisted on putting out a statement condemning some of the tabloid coverage of Meghan and what he called quote "the racial undertones of comment pieces."

Anderson Cooper: You write that your dad and your brother, William, were furious with you for doing that. Why?

Prince Harry: They felt as though it made them look bad. They felt as though they didn't have a chance or weren't able to do that for their partners. What Meghan had to go through was similar in some part to what Kate and what Camilla went through, very different circ*mstances. But then you add in the race element, which was what the press-- British press jumped on straight away. I went into this incredibly naïve. I had no idea the British press were so bigoted. Hell, I was probably bigoted before–

Anderson Cooper: You-- you--

Prince Harry: --the relationship with-- with Meghan.

Anderson Cooper: You think you were bigoted before the relationship with Meghan.

Prince Harry: I-- I don't know. Put it this way, I didn't see what I now see.

They were married in May 2018, in a ceremony that seemed to promise a more modern and inclusive royal family -- and given the titles duke and duch*ess of Sussex. But behind the scenes, according to Harry, William's mistrust of Meghan only worsened.

Anderson Cooper: Did you ever try to meet with William and Kate to try to defuse the tension?

Prince Harry: Yep.

Anderson Cooper: How did that meeting go?

Prince Harry: Not particularly well.

In early 2019, Harry writes, the rancor between William and him exploded at Harry's cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace.

Anderson Cooper: Your arguments with your brother became physical.

Prince Harry: It was a buildup of-- frustration, I think, on his part. It was at a time where he was being told certain things by people within his office. And at the same time, he was consuming a lot of the tabloid press, a lot of the stories. And he had a few issues, which were based not on reality. And I was defending my wife. And he was coming for my wife-- she wasn't there at the time-- but through the things that he was saying. I was defending myself. And we moved from one room into the kitchen. And his frustrations were growing, and growing, and growing. He was shouting at me. I was shouting back at him. It wasn't nice. It wasn't pleasant at all. And he snapped. And he pushed me to the floor.

Anderson Cooper: He knocked you over?

Prince Harry: He knocked me over. I landed on the dog bowl.

Anderson Cooper: You cut your back.

Prince Harry: Yeah. I cut my back. I didn't know about it at the time. But, yeah, he-- he apologized afterwards. It was a pretty nasty experience, but—

Anderson Cooper: He asked you not to tell anybody-- not to tell Meghan?

Prince Harry: Yeah. And-- and I wouldn't have done. And, I didn't until she-- until she saw on the-- on my back. She goes, "What's that?" I was like, "Huh, what?" I actually didn't know what she was talking about. I looked in the mirror. I was like, "Oh s***." Well, 'cause I'd never s-I hadn't seen it.

Meghan has said constant criticism and pressure led her in the winter of 2019 to contemplate suicide.

Prince Harry: The thing that's terrified me the most is history repeating itself.

Anderson Cooper: You really feared that your wife, Meghan…

Prince Harry: Yes, I feared, I feared a lot that the end result, the fact that I lost my mum when I was 12 years old, could easily happen again to my wife.

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In January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan announced they intended to, in their words, step back as senior members of the royal family. They moved to California three months later. Then there was the headline-grabbing interview with Oprah Winfrey and a deal with Netflix worth a reported $100 million. Critics say the duke and duch*ess are cashing in on their royal titles while they still can.

Anderson Cooper: Why not renounce your titles as duke and duch*ess?

Prince Harry: And what difference would that make?

Anderson Cooper: One of the criticisms that you've received is that okay, fine, you wanna move to California, you wanna step back from the institutional role. Why be so public? Why reveal conversations you've had with your father or-- with your brother? You say you tried to do this privately.

Prince Harry: And every single time I've tried to do it privately there have been briefings and leakings and planting of stories against me and my wife. You know, the family motto is never complain, never explain. But it's just a motto. And it doesn't really hold--

Anderson Cooper: There's a lotta complaining and a lot of explaining.

Prince Harry: Endless--

Anderson Cooper: Private-- being done in-- through leaks.

Prince Harry: Through leaks.

Prince Harry continues to claim he would never leak against his family.

Prince Harry: So now, trying to speak a language that perhaps they understand, I will sit here and speak truth to you with the words that come out of my mouth, rather than using someone else, an unnamed source, to feed in lies or a narrative to a tabloid media that literally radicalizes its readers to then potentially cause harm to my family, my wife, my kids.

In December, the British tabloid The Sun published a vicious column about Meghan written by a TV host.

Anderson Cooper: He said, "I hate her. At night, I'm unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day where she is made to walk naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, 'Shame,' and throw lumps of excrement at her." Did that surprise you?

Prince Harry: Did it surprise me? No. Is it shocking? Yes. I mean, thank you for proving our point.

Anderson Cooper: Has there been any response from the palace

Prince Harry: No. And there comes a point when silence is betrayal

Harry has been back in the United Kingdom. He was in London last September for a charity event when the palace announced his grandmother, the queen, was under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Prince Harry: I asked my brother-- I said, "What are your plans? How are you and Kate getting up there?" And then, a couple of hours later, you know, all of the fam-- family members that live within the Windsor and Ascot area were jumping on a plane together, a plane with 12, 14, maybe 16 seats.

Anderson Cooper: You were not invited on that plane?

Prince Harry: I was not invited.

By the time Harry got to Balmoral on his own, the queen was dead.

Prince Harry: I walked into the hall, and my aunt was there to greet me. And she asked me if I wanted to see her. I thought about it for about five seconds, thinking, "Is this a good idea?" And I was, like, "You know what? You can-- you can do this. You-- you need to say goodbye." So I went upstairs, took my jacket off and walked in and just spent some time with her alone.

Anderson Cooper: Where was she?

Prince Harry: She was in her bedroom. I was actually-- I was really happy for her. Because she'd finished life. She'd completed life, and her husband was-- was waiting for her. And the two of them are buried together.

As they had 25 years earlier, Harry and William found themselves walking together, but apart, this time behind their grandmother's casket.

Anderson Cooper: Do you speak to William now? Do you text?

Prince Harry: Currently, no. But I look forward to-- I look forward to us being able to find peace. I want—

Anderson Cooper: How long has it been since you spoke?

Prince Harry: A while.

Anderson Cooper: Do you speak to your dad?

Prince Harry: We aren't-- we haven't spoken for quite a while. No, not recently.

Anderson Cooper: Can you see a day when you would return as a full-time member of the royal family?

Prince Harry: No. I can't see that happening.

Anderson Cooper: In the book, you called this, "A-- full-scale rupture." Can it be healed?

Prince Harry: Yes. The ball is very much in their court, but, you know, Meghan and I have continued to say that we will openly apologize for anything that we did wrong, but every time we ask that question, no one's telling us sp-- the specifics or anything. There needs to be a constructive conversation, one that can happen in private that doesn't get leaked.

Anderson Cooper: I assume they would say, "Well, how can we trust you how do we know that you're not gonna reveal whatever conversations we have in an interview somewhere?"

Prince Harry: This all started with them briefing, daily, against my wife with lies to the point of where my wife and I had to run away from our count-- my country.

Anderson Cooper: It's hard, I think, for anybody to imagine a family dynamic that is so "Game of Thrones" without dragons.

Prince Harry: I don't watch "Game of Thrones," but--

Anderson Cooper: Oh. Okay.

Prince Harry: --there's def-- but there's definitely dragons. And that's again the third party which is the British Press so ultimately without the British press as part of this, we would probably still be a fairly dysfunctional family, like, a lot are. But at the heart of it, there is a family, without question. Um - and I really look forward to having that family element back. I look forward to having a relationship with my brother. I look forward to having a relationship with my father and other members of my family.

Anderson Cooper: You want that?

Prince Harry: That's all I've ever asked for.

We reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment back in January. The palace has still not made any official comment about Prince Harry's book.

Produced by Draggan Mihailovich. Associate producer, Emily Cameron. Broadcast associate, Eliza Costas. Edited by Warren Lustig.

  • British Royal Family
  • Prince William Duke of Cambridge
  • Prince Harry Duke of Sussex
  • King Charles
  • Queen Elizabeth II
  • Meghan duch*ess of Sussex
  • Diana Princess of Wales

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper, anchor of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," has contributed to 60 Minutes since 2006. His exceptional reporting on big news events has earned Cooper a reputation as one of television's preeminent newsmen.

Prince Harry: The 60 Minutes Interview Transcript (2024)
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