Prince Harry claims "killing 25 Taliban fighters" comment taken out of context

Prince Harry has said claims he boasted in his new book about killing 25 Taliban fighters while on duty in Afghanistan are a "dangerous lie".

The prince has been criticised for discussing killings in Spare, with some military figures saying it was wrong to refer to the dead as "chess pieces".

But on US TV, Harry accused the press of taking his words out of context, adding the spin endangered his family.

He also defended his remarks, saying he had wanted to reduce veteran suicide.

Spare, which was published on Tuesday, has become the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever in the UK.

Some 400,000 copies of the memoir have been bought, despite many excerpts being leaked in the press ahead of its official release.

People in Spain were also able to get their hands on a copy last week after it was accidentally released early in bookstores across the country.

In an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show to promote the book, Harry said it had been a difficult period.

"The last few days have been hurtful and challenging, not being able to do anything about those leaks," he said.

He then appeared to condemn some coverage of the book, saying: "Without a doubt, the most dangerous lie that they have told, is that I somehow boasted about the number of people I killed in Afghanistan.

"If I heard anyone boasting about that kind of thing, I would be angry. But it's a lie."

Harry said that now the book was out, he hoped people would be able to "see the context".

"It's really troubling and very disturbing that they can get away with it because they had the context.

"My words are not dangerous - but the spin of my words are very dangerous to my family. That is a choice they've made."

Referring to his decision to talk about killing people, he said the "most important thing is to be honest" and to give veterans the space to share their experiences "without any shame".

"My whole goal and my attempt with sharing that detail is to reduce the number of [veteran] suicides," he added.

In lighter moments during the interview, Harry drank Tequila with Colbert, joked that it felt like "group therapy" and performed a skit introducing the show with Hollywood actor Tom Hanks.

In Spare, Prince Harry reveals for the first time that he killed 25 enemy fighters during two tours in the Helmand region of Afghanistan.

"It wasn't a statistic that filled me with pride but nor did it make me ashamed," he writes.

"When I was plunged into the heat and confusion of battle, I didn't think about those as 25 people. You can't kill people if you see them as people.

"In truth, you can't hurt people if you see them as people. They were chess pieces taken off the board, bad guys eliminated before they kill good guys."

Subsequent media coverage of the comments, which were leaked to the press ahead of the book's publication, drew criticism from figures in the military.

Ex-army officer Col Richard Kemp, who was sent to Kabul in 2003 to take command of forces in Afghanistan, told the BBC it was unusual, but he did not have a problem with Prince Harry talking about how many people he had killed.

However, he raised concern at references to dead Taliban insurgents as chess pieces, saying such descriptions could give "propaganda to the enemy".

Ex-colonel Tim Collins accused Harry of "turning against" his military family.

Col Collins, who gained worldwide fame for an eve-of battle speech to troops in Iraq, said: "That's not how you behave in the Army; it's not how we think.

"He has badly let the side down. We don't do notches on the rifle butt. We never did."

Source: BBC 

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