A story Prince Harry tells of his time in the Army in Spare has been ridiculed as "complete fantasy" – but his instructor said he will always respect the prince.
The Duke of Sussex goes into plenty of detail – arguably some times a bit too much – as he recalls major moments of his life in his popular and controversial new memoir, The Sunday Mirror reports.
Having spent a decade of his life with the British Army, it was inevitable that the 35-year-old reflected on his time in service but one account in particular has left his ex-sergeant in "shock".
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Harry says that an Army instructor deliberately stalled their Slingsby T67 Firefly propeller plane without warning, something ex-Sergeant Major Michael Booley firmly denies would have ever happened.
He told the Sunday Mirror: “I am staggered by this. In shock even.”
His clear version of the incident suggests Harry has come up with yet another porker – after a string of claims in his book were proven to be inaccurate.
The prince wrote in his controversial bestseller: “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 levelled the wings.
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“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.”
But Michael – who ranks father-of-two Harry in his top five students – dismisses the prince’s tale, saying: “Whilst the book compliments me, the recollection of the sorties [combat missions] and lessons is inaccurate, I’m afraid.
"It’s important to highlight that nothing in the cockpit comes as a surprise. Every sortie is thoroughly briefed beforehand, every single aspect.
“The sortie is flown exactly as per that brief. The only time there are surprises is later in the syllabus, not as stated in the book, when emergencies are introduced.
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“Engine failures are practised before the first solo obviously, in case the student suffers one.”
Michael, 57, served in the military for 33 years and taught the Duke of Sussex to pilot the Firefly in 2009.
Harry – who flew Apache attack helicopters in Afghanistan – was presented with his wings a year later by his father King Charles, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.
While Michael maintains the utmost respect and admiration for Harry, he questions parts of Spare, which was ghostwritten by leading author John Joseph Moehringer.
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Michael says he never called the royal "Lt Wales", as the book claims.
He adds: “I think the reference to the flying sorties has been dramatised. 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.”
Michael still holds Harry, 38, in extremely high regard and recalls the time they shared a roast lamb for a Sunday lunch.
They were also photographed together in 2009 shortly after Harry graduated from the Defence Elementary Flying Training School.
Michael adds: “He was an exceptional student, very talented indeed. He is a friend and a man I respect immensely who would always have my ear.”
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