Prince Harry’s ‘dangerous’ flight claim in Spare ‘dramatized' for effect

Prince Harry’s ‘dangerous’ flight claim in his memoir disputed by former army instructor who was ‘staggered’ by the anecdote in the bestseller

Prince Harry’s ‘dangerous’ flight claim disputed by army instructor. Seen here is Prince Harry ahead of the Queen's Lying-In-State
(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Prince Harry’s ‘dangerous’ flight claim in Spare was reportedly “dramatized for effect”, according to an ex-Sergeant Major who instructed him. 


Like many members of both the immediate and extended Royal Family, both of the King’s sons have had military careers and Prince Harry’s time as a serving officer is something he’s reflected on in Spare. The Duke of Sussex served in the British Army for ten years and rose to the rank of captain. 

During his time in the army he undertook flight training and there’s one flight in particular that Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, shed some shocking light on. Though his former army instructor ex-Sergeant Major Michael Booley has now explained a very different version of events to the one the royal shared. 

Prince Harry, carrying his rucksack and wearing a flak jacket, disembarks an RAF Lockheed TriStar transport aircraft

(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Opening up to The Mirror (opens in new tab), Michael expressed how “staggered” he was at Prince Harry’s account and suggested it was “dramatized” in the bestseller. 

As per the publication, Spare includes Prince Harry’s claim that, “On one of our first flights together, with no warning, Booley threw the aircraft into a stall. I felt the left wing dip, a sickening feeling of disorder, of entropy, and then, after several seconds that felt like decades, he recovered the aircraft and leveled the wings.”

“I stared at him. What in the absolute - ? Was this an aborted suicide attempt?’ No, he said gently. This was the next stage in my training,” the royal continued.

Responding to this particular passage in Spare, Michael - who reportedly counts the King’s youngest son as one of his top 5 students - declared, “I am staggered by this. In shock even.” 

Prince Harry looks thoughtful as he sits at the observation post on JTAC Hill

(Image credit: Photo by John Stillwell - POOL/Anwar Hussein Collection/WireImage via Getty)

The ex-Sergeant Major alleged, “Whilst the book compliments me, the recollection of the sorties and lessons is inaccurate, I’m afraid. It’s important to highlight that nothing in the cockpit comes as a surprise.

He went on to claim that far from being none the wiser, all those going through training are “briefed” before the flights about what exactly to expect. 

“Every sortie is thoroughly briefed beforehand, every single aspect. The sortie is flown exactly as per that brief,” Michael said. “The only time there are surprises is later in the syllabus, not as stated in the book, when emergencies are introduced. Engine failures are practiced before the first solo obviously, in case the student suffers one.”

Prince Harry in military combat dress uniform joins British troops and service personal

(Image credit: Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The former army instructor added, “I think the reference to the flying sorties has been dramatized. I think it’s a result of the ghost writing. I never called him Lt Wales, he was an officer, and I called him Sir.”

Despite disagreeing with Prince Harry’s account, Michael maintains a huge level of admiration for the royal, who is fifth in the royal line of succession. He described him as an “exceptional student” and a “friend”, as well as a “man I respect immensely who would always have my ear”.

This flight anecdote was one just of the shocking allegations included in Spare, which was released on January 10. Although the book was surrounded by controversy, it’s understood to have sold over 3.2 million copies worldwide in its first week.   

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.