Late Queen’s royal aide demands apology over ‘errors’ in Prince Harry’s memoir

A former palace aide has demanded a public apology from Prince Harry over a passage written in his new memoir, Spare.

Dickie Arbiter, 82, who was assistant press secretary to the late Queen Elizabeth, has claimed a passage in the Duke of Sussex’s book has been misattributed to him.

Though Arbiter is not named in the book, he says a quote in the book could be interpreted as if it was him, and he would like the publisher to apologise.

In Spare, Prince Harry discusses an article published by the Daily Mail in 2020, in which a group of royal commentations, the “Fleet Street jury” shared their opinions on Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back from royal duties.

Prince Harry wrote of the article in his book: “Among [the jury] was the Queen’s ex-press secretary, who concluded, with his fellow jurors, that we should hereafter “’expect no mercy’.”

“I shook my head. ‘No mercy’. The language of war?”

The wording suggested the phrase had been used by Arbiter, the only former press secretary alleged to be among the “Fleet Street jury”.

Arbiter has denied claims that he was part of the “Fleet Street jury”. He told The Independent: “While I am not mentioned by name – referencing ‘the Queen’s ex-press secretary’ – it is by association that by being the only former courtier regularly contacted by the media, the author is pointing the finger at me.”

“I wish to make it abundantly clear I was not asked to be a part of ‘jury’ and I certainly would not use words like ‘expect no mercy’.”

I am therefore seeking an acknowledgement from Penguin Random House for their recognition of this misrepresentational error,” he added.

In an interview with The Times, Arbiter said there are a “number of errors in the book and future copies should be corrected”.

Arbiter has demanded an apology from ‘Spare’ publishers, Pengium Random House (PA Images)
Arbiter has demanded an apology from ‘Spare’ publishers, Pengium Random House (PA Images)

According to The Times report, it was Sir Trevor Phillips, the broadcaster and former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who made the comment.

Arbiter said a post on social media would be an acceptable form of “public apology” as it would be seen widely.

“What are @penguinrandom going to do about correcting this allegation against me – I never said anything of the sort. How about a public apology pdq?,” he tweeted, tagging the publishing house behind Spare.

The Independent has contacted Penguin Random House and representatives of the Duke of Sussex for comment.

Arbiter was also media manager for Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. His autobiography On Duty With The Queen – My Twelve Years as a Buckingham Palace Press Secretary was released in 2004 by Blink publishers.

Spare sold more than 1.4 million copies on its release day, while digital copies of the book are being shared for free over Whatsapp.

Follow The Independent’s live blog on Prince Harry news here.

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