Buckingham Palace aides “war gamed” how to respond to the Duke of Sussex’s memoir, compiling a dossier of all potential allegations in preparation, the Telegraph understands.
Royal staff spent weeks combing through every possible scenario Prince Harry could describe in his book in a desperate bid to avoid being blindsided on publication.
Among the many conversations and clashes they expected to be exposed were the alleged physical altercation the Duke had with his brother, Prince William, and the angry scenes that unfolded at the Sandringham crisis meeting called to thrash out his future.
Both incidents were laid bare in the memoir, Spare, which will be published on Tuesday but was leaked last week after going on sale in Spain.
Palace aides have publicly maintained a sense of nonchalance over the book.
On Saturday, one insisted that they had not had the time to give it a second thought and would rather focus on the busy schedule of forthcoming royal engagements.
However, one well-placed source revealed that a small team had been heavily focused on it.
“They have been wargaming every dispute, every clash the Duke had with his family that they feared could be made public in his book,” the source said.
“Every possible allegation they could think of has been run through in detail so they could feel prepared. They were taking it very seriously and wanted to be ready to react if necessary. They were on a war footing.”
No one at the palace was sent a preview copy and most senior aides are being forced to wait until Tuesday to get hold of it, digesting it instead via the excerpts of Spanish translations that have been widely disseminated.
Aides did not rule out issuing a response if it was considered necessary. However, they suggested it was unlikely they would even acknowledge the book unless the Duke made allegations so potentially damaging about an individual family member or the institution that reputations were at stake.
In the event, staff opted not to respond to any of the claims, despite their often personal nature. It is understood that some of their biggest fears did not come to fruition, prompting them to conclude that there was no reason to fuel the fire.
In the book, as predicted, Prince Harry described in great detail a physical altercation he claims that he had with Prince William, who he said had called Meghan “a difficult person” and “rude” before launching himself at his brother, physically pushing him to the floor.
“He broke my necklace by grabbing me by the collar of my shirt,” he wrote. “I fell on the dog bowl, it broke under my back and the pieces scratched me.”
He also detailed the fraught Sandringham summit, at which palace aides told him the printer was not working, apparently to disguise the fact that they had never been prepared to allow him to opt for his favoured half-in, half-out model when stepping back from the institution.
Five options had been sent to all parties ahead of the January 2020 meeting, the first being to retain the status quo and the fifth, severing all professional links with the loss of security.
The Sussexes wanted option three – the middle ground – that would have allowed them to spend part of the year abroad while returning to the UK for charity work, ceremonies and events. However, Harry claimed that after an hour’s discussion, an aide handed out a prepared statement announcing the implementation of option five.
He asked if he could see the other statements but was told the printer had broken. Later, he found his way to the aide’s office, to find that the “indestructible” machines were in full working order.
One royal source said that despite protestations to the contrary, Buckingham Palace would always have ensured that it was prepared for every eventuality when it came to Harry’s long-awaited book.
“That’s what they do, it’s how they operate,” the source said. “They anticipate challenges and prepare for them. The notion that they would have been nervous or anxious about it does not reflect reality.
“They are always steady and prepared and will ensure they have formulated a potential response when calm rather than under pressure.”
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.