Prince Harry’s autobiography is the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever, recording figures of 400,000 copies so far across hardback, ebook and audio formats on its first day of publication.

Larry Finlay, managing director of Transworld Penguin Random House, said: “We always knew this book would fly but it is exceeding even our most bullish expectations.

“As far as we know, the only books to have sold more in their first day are those starring the other Harry (Potter).”

Queues of fans developed before shops opened at 12am Tuesday morning for the official release of the controversial memoir.

A handful of people waited outside the doors of WH Smith in London’s Victoria station to be one of the first to buy a copy of the book – which has made headlines across the world with bombshell revelations about the Royal Family and was leaked and sold early by some booksellers in Spain.

Key revelations in Prince Harry’s book

  • The duke admits to using cocaine – saying “it wasn’t very fun”
  • He claims to have killed 25 people in Afghanistan during his two tours of duty
  • He says he asked his father not to marry Camilla – and his brother made the same request
  • He describes how King Charles told him Meghan should not go to Balmoral after the Queen’s death
  • He recalled the moment he found out his mother, Princess Diana, had been in a car accident
  • He says he lost his virginity to an older woman in a field behind a busy pub
  • He accuses Prince William of knocking him over during an argument about the Duchess of Sussex

In his first print interview since his autobiography, with US magazine People, the duke maintained that he “would like nothing more” than for his children to have relationships with the Royal Family.

He said that Archie, three, and 19-month-old Lilibet did have a connection with some of the Windsors, whom he did not name, saying this brought him “great joy”.

More on Prince Harry

Crowds of photographers, camera operators and reporters captured the moment that the first customers were handed copies of the memoir.

Sarah Nakana, 46, was first to the till to buy her copy at just gone midnight, describing Prince Harry’s decision to write the book and tell his story as “incredibly courageous and brave”.

She said: “I’m excited to hear from Prince Harry about his life in his words.

“He has created a historical record of his life. He lived it. Only he knows what he endured and went through.

“I know for sure the UK media sensationalised some of the bits that make him look in the worst light and sell them the most papers.”

Other early customers included Professor Chris Imafidon, who purchased three copies, and two 20-year-old friends Ben Vu and Leigh Harper.

Despite having a retail price of £28, many shops, including Waterstones and WH Smith are selling it at half price.

It is also available for £14 on Amazon.

Read more:
Harry may have rowed back on his racism claim – but the damage is done
Sex drugs and royal control: Prince Harry’s biggest revelations in memoir
How did William and Harry’s relationship break down?

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Harry book ‘half price already’

In one bookshop in Swindon called Bert’s Books, Spare was displayed next to author Bella Mackie’s novel How To Kill Your Family in a “light-hearted” nod to his allegations against the Royal Family.

Alex Call, 35, the owner of Bert’s Books, said: “(How To Kill Your Family) was already in our window because it was our bestselling book of 2022.

“Then when we saw it there, we thought it would be quite funny to put it next to Spare and would be quite light-hearted and make a few people smile.”

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The Duke of Sussex has used the 550-plus pages of Spare to make headline-dominating claims including accusing William of physically attacking him and teasing him about his panic attacks, saying King Charles put his own interests above Harry’s and, in a US broadcast interview, branding Camilla as the “villain” and “dangerous”.

But as a well-connected individual, the book is also packed with celebrity cameos, from the Spice Girls to Courteney Cox.