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Prince Harry didn’t hold much back in his controversial autobiography, Spare. He shared information about Prince William, Kate Middleton, King Charles, and more. One bit of information some people think he should have withheld is how many people he killed while he was in the military. Former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta shared his thoughts in a recent interview.

Prince Harry focused on the wrong detail, says Leon Panetta

Prince Harry poses in a dark suit.
Prince Harry | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Panetta spoke with Piers Morgan about Prince Harry’s revelation that he killed 25 Taliban fighters. The former defense secretary says Harry should have focused on the mission instead of the number of people he killed.

“Based on my experience both in the military and as secretary of defense, I have to tell you the strongest warriors I knew in battle were those who focused on the mission and not how many individuals on the other side they killed,” says Panetta during an interview on Sky News Australia. “They focused on whether or not the mission was accomplished. I think Prince Harry would have done better to focus on the missions that he was involved with rather than counting the number of the dead.”

Leon Panetta believes Prince Harry should make changes to his autobiography

Panetta went on to say he thinks Harry could have handled the situation better. He agreed with Piers when he asked if he thought Harry should make changes to future printings of Spare.

“I do think he could have handled this better as a soldier,” says Panetta. “I think that when you start to detail how many have been killed, then in some ways that becomes the issue. What I’m offended by, frankly, is the distortion of focusing on numbers killed rather than the mission he was involved with, which I think was a strong mission, an important mission to go after the Taliban and those who were involved in the attack on 9/11. This was an important mission, and that’s what ought to be focused on.”

Panetta continues, “So if in some way he could rewrite this or include the missions he was involved in without referring to the number of people that were killed, I think that would frankly represent a fairer description of what he was involved with in his service.”

While Panetta says Harry probably did his job as a solider, he believes his comments about the Taliban fighters takes away from his accomplishments. “I’m sure he performed well; I’m sure he did his service to his country, and I think that’s important,” says Panetta. “But I think saying the number of people that were killed frankly detracts both from the mission and from the service that he provided.”

Prince Harry says it’s a ‘dangerous lie’ that he ‘boasted’ about how many people he killed in Afghanistan


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During his interview with Stephen Colbert, Harry says the “most dangerous lie” the media told was that he “boasted” about how many people he killed in Afghanistan. Harry says if he heard someone boasting about something like this, he would be upset.

“If I heard anyone boasting about that kind of thing, I would be angry,” Harry tells Colbert. “But it’s a lie. And hopefully, now that the book is out people will be able to see the context.”

Harry says the way his statement is presented in the media is dangerous. “It’s really troubling and very disturbing that [the media] can get away with it, because they have the context. That’s dangerous. And my words are not dangerous, but the spin of my words are very dangerous.”

Why did Prince Harry reveal how many people he killed in Afghanistan?

One question Harry addressed was why he revealed the number of people he killed. He says his intention was to help other soldiers and encourage them to share what they have experienced. He believes his openness might save a life.

“I made the choice to share it because having spent nearly two decades with veterans all around the world, I think the most important thing is to be honest and to be able to give space to others to be able to share their experiences without any shame,” says Harry. “And my whole goal and my attempt with sharing that detail is to reduce the number of suicides.”

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