Fans queued to buy a hardback copy of the Prince Harry's autobiography as it hit shelves at midnight.
Shops across the UK reopened at 12am on Tuesday for the official release of Harry’s controversial memoir Spare, which was leaked and also sold early by some book shops in Spain last week.
A handful of people waited outside WH Smith in Victoria station, central London, to be one of the first to buy a copy of the book, which contains a flood of bombshell revelations and intimately private details about Harry’s life and family.
Shop staff opened the doors to a swarm of reporters and customers who gathered around stacks of the book, which were sitting on a table wrapped in sealed black packaging.
The first customers were handed copies as photographers captured the moment before the staff started putting half price stickers onto copies and unloading them onto specially-designed shelving units near the front of the shop.
Professor Chris Imafidon, chairman of the Excellence in Education charity, from Epping, Essex, who was first in line and picked up three copies, said he wanted to hear the story “from (the) horse’s mouth”.
Queuing outside the shop just before midnight, Mr Imafidon, told the PA news agency that he had been waiting in Victoria station since about 9.30pm to get his hands on a copy.
Mr Imafidon said he is “extremely curious” as to why Harry left the institution, adding: “I’m more of a fan of the royal family than the individuals because the royal family have done more work for me and my charity than any political office holder.”
He said he is “dazed” by reports of how much detail Harry has gone into about private family moments.
“Why? Why? You don’t need that to sell. You would sell a book if you’re Diana’s hat or Diana’s dog or Diana’s… if you’re linked to Diana you will still sell. Why would you go to that distance?”
“I really want to know from (the) horse’s mouth,” he continued, adding that he hopes the book is in Harry’s first person voice not in the third person.
“I really want to know why the young man would leave the country he loved, he lived in and was ready to die for, because he went to war.”
Also in the queue was bartender Sasha Pursell, 27, who has moved to London from Melbourne, Australia.
Waiting outside the shop, Ms Pursell told the PA news agency: “I’m just intrigued. I’ve heard so much press about the book and it’s also just a bit exciting – I’ve never been to a midnight release.
“I just thought: ‘You know what, I’ve just finished work. It will be a bit of fun to go over and buy the book that I want to read.”
Asked about the criticism surrounding the book, she said: “Yes it can be seen as a betrayal to the royal family but at the same time, I feel like a lot of lies have been spewed about him.
“It can go both ways. I don’t think either party is in the right or the wrong.”
Sarah Nakana, 46, a surveyor from Dulwich, south London, said she had already downloaded the audiobook as she picked up a copy, saying she wanted to try to “get ahead of the British press and their narratives”.
“It will just be the public getting whipped into a frenzy of anti-Harry and Meghan-ness because that’s what sells – hate sells – they’re monetising hate,” she said.
“I was just like: ‘No I just need to cut the noise here, read it and be like: ‘Fine, I can move on now.'”
Ms Nakana said she was happy to see both William and Harry marry and “move on” with their lives after their mother’s death but then the “consistent daily negative” press against the Duchess of Sussex got her thinking: “Sorry, what’s this woman done?”
She said: “When Harry was doing his book, I was like: ‘No I need to just know what his life has been because the British media tell me everyday: ‘This is what it is.’
“And I hardly hear from the guy but I hear from the British press, the royal rota, the royal experts but never from him directly.
“It was just very important for me as a historical record to hear about his life because he’s lived it and that’s why I’m here tonight. This is him, his words, ‘this is what I went through’.
“With the snippets that have been out, I love the honesty. ‘This is the good, the bad and the ugly, this is me. There is nothing hidden, there is nothing told over me.’”