New Zealanders question Harry's 'bizarre' claim over first class flight that never existed

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex arrive at Westminster Abbey ahead of the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on September 19, 2022 in London, England. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Philip in 1947 and ascended the throne of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth on 6 February 1952 after the death of her Father, King George VI. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Prince Harry during the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the last time he saw his family. (Getty Images)

Prince Harry's memoir, Spare, has made headlines around the world with a series of sensational claims about the Royal Family, including that his brother physically attacked him and that Camilla briefed newspapers about him to rehabilitate her own image.

In interviews promoting the book, Harry says claims the press has lied about him for many years and he has written the book to ensure the "truth will come from my lips rather than using other people".

He has also wrote in Spare that "there’s just as much truth in what I remember and how I remember it as there is in so-called objective facts".

This stance might be why his claims have been subject to intense scrutiny – and, as a result, the details of one incident about his father-in-law have been questioned over their accuracy by an airline in New Zealand.

It revolves around the period of time when Thomas Markle — Meghan's now estranged father — was coming under heavy press scrutiny in his Mexican home.

Harry describes in his book that he and Meghan sorted out a "first class" journey to the UK for him on an Air New Zealand flight.

Harry wrote that the incident occurred in the run-up to the couple's wedding in 2018, when Mr Markle was accused of staging paparazzi pictures.

Journalists work in front of the residential area where Thomas Markle, the father of Meghan Markle, lives in San Antonio del Mar, Rosarito, Baja California state, Mexico on May 15, 2018. - Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding was in turmoil on Tuesday after a reported string of U-turns from her father over whether he will attend, just four days before the big occasion. (Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)
in the lead up to Harry and Meghan's 2018 wedding, the press descended en masse to the Mexico town which her father Thomas Markle lives in. (Getty Images)

He claims Meghan impressed upon her father that the accusations were "serious" because if they told the publications the story was false and Mr Markle had in fact participated in the photos, they would lose credibility and it would be impossible to kill any future stories.

He writes: "Meg said: We might be able to kill this story, Daddy, but if it turns out you're lying, we'll never be able to kill a false story about ourselves, or our children, again. So this is serious. You must tell us the truth."

Harry continues that Mr Markle "swore" he wasn't involved in setting up the pictures.

Because Meghan believed her father, Harry writes that she booked him a "first class" ticket to the UK from Mexico on an Air New Zealand flight."

"In that case, we told him, leave Mexico right now", Harry writes in Spare. "A whole new level of harassment is about to rain down on you, so come to Britain. Now. We’ll arrange for an apartment where you can hole up safely until your flight. Air New Zealand, first class, booked and paid for by Meg."

Harry claims Mr Markle refused the couple's offer as he "had things to do".


Sunday January 8th at 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX 

Pictured: (l-r) Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex interviewed by Tom Bradby in California.

ITV will show an exclusive interview with Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, next Sunday in which he will talk in-depth to Tom Bradby, journalist and ITV News at Ten presenter, covering a range of subjects including his personal relationships, never-before-heard details surrounding the death of his mother, Diana, and a look ahead at his future. 

The 90 minute programme, produced by ITN Productions for ITV, will be broadcast two days before Prince Harry’s autobiography ‘Spare’ is published on 10 January, by Transworld.

The book has been billed by publisher Penguin Random House as “a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief”.

Filmed in California, where Harry now lives, Harry: The Interview, sees the Prince go into unprecedented depth and detail on life in and out of the Royal Family.

Speaking to Tom Bradby, who he has known for more than 20 years, Prince Harry shares his personal story, in his own words.

Michael Jermey, ITV Director of News and Current Affairs, said: “It is extremely rare for a member of the Royal Family to speak so openly about their experience at the heart of the institution. 

“Tom Bradby’s interview with Prince Harry will be a programme that everyone with an informed opinion on the monarchy should want to watch.
Harry has undertaken four high profile television interviews to promote his new memoir, Spare. (ITV)
Charles and Harry on holiday in Switzerland 29 March 2002, and their return home to the UK on 31 March 2002, after the Queen Mother's death. (Getty Images)
Charles and Harry on holiday in Switzerland 29 March 2002, and their return home to the UK on 31 March 2002, after the Queen Mother's death. (Getty Images)

However, the New Zealand Herald has since reported that no such flight exists, as Air New Zealand doesn't operate flights on that route and doesn't have a first class option, only a business class section is available for their customers.

The Herald said: "Air NZ responded to questions about these claims from the Herald by pointing out it only provides Business Premier fares, rather than first-class as the book claimed."

Another claim made in Spare is that Harry was at Eton when he was called by a courtier and told that his great-grandmother, the Queen Mother, had died in 2002.

Robert Jobson — royal editor for the Evening Standard — has alleged that Harry is mistaken on this point, and Harry actually found out whilst on a skiing holiday in Klosters, Switzerland, when she died on 30 March that year.

"Harry recalls in graphic detail learning of the Queen Mother's death at Eton in 2002. He wasn’t there. He was in Klosters, Switzerland skiing with his dad and brother at the time", Jobson tweeted, "I know because I was there at the time. Factual errors in your own memoir make you doubt 'his truth'."

One more significant claim of inaccuracy made against Harry revolves around his allegation that Camilla disclosed private conversations she had with William to the newspapers.

Some royal sources have rejected this, saying her private secretary at the time was responsible for accidentally sharing information that was subsequently repeated in front of a journalist who shared the story with the Sun newspaper. The aide responsible for repeating the information then resigned.

Despite this, Harry indicates that Camilla repeatedly leaked stories about him and William.

Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have not commented on the contents of the book.

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