Prince William and Harry’s royal rumble: Six strange moments you (probably) missed

It’s a riveting passage, with many of the hallmarks we love from Prince Harry’s previous hits
It’s a riveting passage, with many of the hallmarks we love from Prince Harry’s previous hits

“What’s going to be left for the book?” we sneered. “How many times can he play the same old tune?” we wailed. “He’s given the best stuff to Oprah, then the dregs to the documentary, so the book will have nothing…”

How wrong we were. Because on the first day of what will be a gruelling weekend of leaks, publicity interviews and light write-ups (sorry in advance) before the publication of Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare, we are delivered what historians will come to refer to as The Great Nott Cott Willy Wrestle – easily the most vividly-drawn sibling fight scene since the timeless moment in The Boss Baby (2017) when little Tim tries to slingshot Baby out of the window for destroying lamb-lamb, his stuffed sheep.

It’s a riveting passage, with many of the hallmarks we love from Prince Harry’s previous hits, including his aptitude for instilling anecdotes with the melodrama of a telenovela, his tendency to include details that do nothing but confound the reader about his lifestyle, and his remarkable gift for letting His Truth only bolster the widely held view that he might, just might, be a few beads short of a necklace.

On today’s evidence, ghostwriter JR Moehringer has not just earned his money but had an absolute ball in the process. Let’s rake over what we’ve learnt.

‘Harold and Willy’

Not the name of a sitcom about two septuagenarian Olivier-nominated actors who were on/off lovers then fierce nemeses who end up at the same care home, nor the title of a Horrible Histories episode about the Battle of Hastings, but the princes’ apparent nicknames for each other.

Context: William, after potentially lurking outside Nottingham Cottage in his blacked out Range Rover for three days, observing the Sussexes’ comings and goings, has chosen a moment when Meghan is away and popped around for a “chat”. No balaclava or leather gloves are mentioned, but they’re not directly excluded, either.

Why wait until Meghan’s gone? Perhaps he wanted privacy, as she was the topic of conversation. Or perhaps William was acutely aware that Nottingham Cottage is, legendarily, scarcely big enough for even two very small people to live in, making it impossible to have a three-person row. If you can’t swing a cat, how can you punch a prince? Smart thinking. Either way, he is “piping hot”, like a lovely TexMex dish you can hear sizzling as the waiter carries it across TGI Friday.

“Willy, I can’t speak to you when you’re like this,” Harry says. Most people resort to full names when they’re angry. As with many traditions, The Royal family do things differently. The greater the anger, the greater the affectionately diminutive nickname, it seems. Apparently – and this is just what I heard – when Diana confronted Charles over his affair with Camilla, she said, “Oh give me a break, Chucky-Chucky-Chonk-Chonk!” I do not know why The Crown didn’t include this.

The Willy-word appears to have pushed Prince William to see red, as that’s when he attacks Harry, knocking him to the floor. Later, in a camply clipped line that sounds lifted from EM Forster, we discover William’s nickname for Harry: “I didn’t attack you, Harold.”

It’s all great dialogue, you have to admit.

Postscript, for the conspiracy heads: Will Smith’s first studio album was called Big Willie Style. His fourth was called Born to Reign. He is now more famous for an act of physical violence than anything else. Just like the Prince of Wales. Coincidence?

You hurt the necklace, you hurt me

The kitchen of Nott Cott isn't the biggest
The kitchen of Nott Cott isn't the biggest

“It all happened so fast. So very fast. He grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace…” Harry writes, breathlessly. You can picture the beads, bought in Goa but discoloured from a thousand wild swims, crashing to the floor and scuttling across the scandalously small kitchen of Nott Cott. You can hear the shark’s tooth flying and embedding itself in Guy the beagle, who’s suffered enough.

“Not the necklace!” is the subtext. “You can attack me, my wife – wait no not my wife – my dignity, the lot. All fair game. But if you touch the necklace, you’ve gone too far. This is war.”

Still, what are the chances that Meghan sent William a (beautifully) hand-written note after this incident saying, “Willy – Generally very mad at you, obv, as I liked that dog bowl, but THANK YOU for breaking that f---ing necklace. I’ve been trying to get him to take it off for YEARS. Please do the Oula smart ring next, or the guitar lol. M”?

Very high.

‘Yeah wear the Nazi outfit, it’ll be lols’

As a general rule in life, when somebody suggests you wear a Nazi uniform, consider sourcing a third opinion - Gotham/GC Images
As a general rule in life, when somebody suggests you wear a Nazi uniform, consider sourcing a third opinion - Gotham/GC Images

Shades of Tim and Dawn in The Office in this bit, when they prank the jobsworth team leader (and Territorial Army soldier) Gareth Keenan into saying and doing embarrassing things by playing on his military obsession.

The scene in question is from 2005, when Prince Harry can’t decide between two costumes for an upcoming “native and colonial” themed party: a pilot uniform or a Nazi uniform. Tricky one. The eternal dilemma.

Nazi or pilot. Pilot orrrrr Nazi. On the one hand, your grandmother’s the Queen and some of your relatives were literally photographed with Hitler, so it may cause quite a stir. On the other hand… banter? Grandad might find it a lol? Time for a second opinion.

“I phoned Willy and Kate, asked what they thought. Nazi uniform, they said,” Harry writes, according to US gossip column Page Six. “They both howled. Worse than Willy’s leopard outfit! Way more ridiculous! Which, again, was the point.”

Actually, Harry, the point might have been that they’ve done you like a kipper there. You are the Gareth to their Tim and Dawn. You are the Richard “The Hamster” Hammond to their Clarkson and May. “Honestly, can’t see any issues with it, Harold. Won’t even be any photos and I’ll come to your defence if there are. But remember to do the salute as well [muffled background laughter from Kate] and keep up the accent all night… Yah yah. Sweet. You are the next Archbishop of Banterbury, bro. Ciao.”

As a general rule in life, when somebody suggests you wear a Nazi uniform, especially when they reason it would be “way more ridiculous” than a leopard and therefore OK, consider sourcing a third opinion.

The Fabergé dog bowl

Guy the beagle, as seen here in a still from Harry and Meghan's Netflix documentary, must have been very confused to see his bowl destroyed - Duke and Duchess of Sussex/Netflix
Guy the beagle, as seen here in a still from Harry and Meghan's Netflix documentary, must have been very confused to see his bowl destroyed - Duke and Duchess of Sussex/Netflix

“I landed on the dog’s bowl,” it’s reported that Harry writes, after being “knocked down” by his brother, “[the bowl] cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me. I lay there for a moment, dazed, then got to my feet and told him to get out.”

I wouldn’t dare doubt the veracity of this detail, but I would just say that I’ve spent the last 25 minutes Googling different dog bowls and am yet to find one that would break under the weight of a man falling on it, let alone smash into shards that get stuck in said bloke’s back, leaving visible scars.

Was Guy’s bowl made from crystal? Stained glass? Was he given a human wine glass to drink from, as an apology for the whole leg-breaking thing? Whatever the answers, Meghan came home a few days later and noticed that while she was away, something – or somebody – had scraped her husband’s back.

She must have feared the worst, her mind leaping to different conclusions. Fortunately, the explanation was simple: “Oh Christ, um, yeah, that? Basically my brother, Willy, the heir to the throne, came over the other day and put his water down – piping hot he was – then knocked me to the floor, ripping my favourite necklace and smashing the dog bowl, which broke into pieces and cut into me, leaving these marks. So er, yeah, that’s why?”

Meghan, for some reason, “wasn’t that surprised”. Just classic Harold.

‘Nott Cott’

PlattyJoobs, Panny-D, Statty-Funes [State Funeral], Nervy-B, Lizzy Line… we thought these abbreviations start on Hunsnet (“the home of hunfluencers and the go-to experts to discuss all things hun”), but maybe they are set from the top, originating within the monarchy before being released into society.

We now await a response from BuPa. That’s Buckingham Palace, not the healthcare group. Though, thinking about it, Harry may well have required their help, too. Dog bowls are lethal.

FIIIIIIGHT!

So, British Army 0 – 1 Royal Air Force Search and Rescue. Who would have called that upset? Not me, though it is possible Harry held back, or at least told Meghan he held back, lest he do something worse in retaliation.

“Babe, you know I know karate,” he might have said, wincing as she pulled shards of Fluff Trough from his back and dabbed the wound with TCP.

The people to feel sorry for are their opposing security details, waiting outside and presumably bursting in when they heard the shouts and glass breaking. What is the protocol there? Stand aside and let it happen? Battle each other, like dæmons in His Dark Materials when their humans fight? Start a sweepstake and take the afternoon off, since prince-on-prince violence doesn’t count? One day, let’s hope Peter Morgan shows us in The Crown.