Prince Harry's revelation that he killed 25 people while serving as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan has been criticised by an MP who was a commanding officer in the army and a Royal Marine who the Duke of Sussex once described as a hero.
In his bombshell autobiography, Spare, Harry reportedly writes about his two tours of Afghanistan, in 2007/8 and 2012/13.
The Telegraph, which obtained a Spanish language copy of the memoir from a bookshop in Spain, says Harry describes the "din and confusion of combat" and says he did not think of those he killed as “people” but instead as “chess pieces” that had been taken off the board.
He says his aim was to ensure "baddies eliminated before they could kill goodies" and that he felt neutral about killing that number of people. He says he would watch a video of every "kill" from a camera attached to the nose of the helicopters he flew.
"It seemed to me essential not to be afraid of that number. So my number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me".
The revelations have been criticised by the Conservative MP for Beckenham Bob Stewart, who questioned why the duke was being so open about his time in the army.
"I wonder why he is doing such things," Stewart told the Daily Mail. "Real soldiers tend to shy away. People I know don't boast about such things. They rather regret that they have had to do it.
Stewart, who served seven tours in Northern Ireland and led UN troops in Bosnia, added: "I feel really sad for the King. Because the King is a good man. I have met him a few times, he was my colonel of the regiment. He is a very sensitive decent man and this will be really hurting him a great deal, all this furore."
Further criticism came from former Royal Marine Ben McBean, a double amputee who shared a transport plane back from Afghanistan with Harry and who was described by him as a "real hero".
McBean tweeted: "Love you Prince Harry but you need to shut up! Makes you wonder the people he’s hanging around with. If it was good people somebody by now would have told him to stop."
Chris Ryan, a former SAS sergeant turned author and TV presenter, tweeted: "Very strange thing to announce considering that he left the UK in order to keep his family safe. Is it something that he thinks might endear him to a US [Military] fan base?"
Veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil also branded Harry's comments "stupid", because it could make him even more of a security risk.
"Harry’s claim that he killed 25 Taliban is a nightmare — an absolute nightmare — for his security teams. How stupid can you be"? Neil wrote.
Harry has previously launched legal action against the Home Office regarding security arrangements for himself and his family when they are in the UK.
In July, a judge gave the go-ahead for the duke’s challenge against a decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, which falls under the remit of the Home Office, after being told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting from the US, despite offering to pay for it himself.
In his Netflix series released last month, the duke revealed he “never” thought the British authorities would remove his family’s security after announcing they wanted to step down as working royals.
He said a documented hate campaign against him and Meghan and suspect packages being sent to palaces meant he did not believe they would lose the police protection that had kept them safe.
Harry's memoir, Spare, is officially released on 10 January, and he is confirmed to do four promotional interviews beforehand: three in the US and one in the UK.
The US interviews will be with Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes, Michael Strahan for Good Morning America and Stephen Colbert for The Late Show.
In the UK, he has sat down with long-time friend Tom Bradby for ITV, who previously interviewed the Sussexes during their 2019 African tour and attended both William and Harry's weddings as a guest.