Is Rebekah Brooks in Prince Harry book? Spare Rehabber Kooks anagram explained - what did he say about her
The former editor of the News of the World and The Sun has been heavily criticised by Prince Harry for a story she ran about him taking drugs while at Eton
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It’s been quite a week for the Royal Family and Prince Harry.
The publication of Prince Harry’s memoir ‘Spare’ has made him a best-selling author, while also blowing even more of his grievances with his family into the open. Not only have we been given more detail about his military career and his love life, but we have also learnt about his challenging relationships with Prince William and Queen Consort Camilla.
As well as his own family, one of the Prince’s other major gripes in his autobiography is with the media. One media figure in particular has been singled out for criticism by him: Rebekah Brooks.
But who exactly is Rebekah Brooks - and what did Prince Harry say about her? Here’s what you need to know.
Who is Rebekah Brooks?
Rebekah Brooks is the CEO of News UK - the Rupert Murdoch-owned media company that runs The Sun and The Times newspapers, as well as broadcasters including TalkTV and Virgin Radio. She has been touted as Murdoch’s potential successor at his global media empire, when the elderly press baron eventually dies or retires.
Brooks’s career began at the Murdoch-owned weekly tabloid News of the World, which she edited between 2000 and 2003. She then moved across to become the editor of The Sun from 2003 until 2009, before becoming the CEO of News UK’s parent company News International.
The 54-year-old is a controversial figure in the UK media landscape, particularly due to the phone hacking scandal. During her time as editor at the News of the World, the newspaper hacked the phones of many people in the news - arguably the most egregious case being the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone in 2002.
The newspaper closed in 2011, with former editor Andy Coulson, ex-news editors Greg Miskiw and Ian Edmondson, as well as former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck all jailed for their involvement in phone hacking. Rebekah Brooks was cleared on all phone hacking charges in 2014.
Allegations have since surfaced about phone hacking taking place at The Sun during Brooks’s time as editor of the tabloid. News UK has said illegal voicemail interception only occurred at the News of the World, and not at The Sun. But the company has previously settled phone hacking claims against the Sun with three people - Sienna Miller, Paul Gascoigne and ex-MP Simon Hughes - without any admission of liability.
What did Prince Harry say about Rebekah Brooks?
Prince Harry was one of the victims of the phone hacking scandal, with News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire both found to have hacked his voicemails. The incidents occurred after Rebekah Brooks had left the publication.
It means there is no love lost between the Prince and the Murdoch media empire. But in Spare, he has attacked Rebekah Brooks for her involvement in a story about him taking drugs.
He said royal aide Mark Dyer visited him while he was studying at Eton in 2001 to ask whether he had taken drugs. It came after Dyer had been contacted by the editor of “Britain’s biggest tabloid” (i.e. Rebekah Brooks) who “had recently phoned my father’s office to say she’d uncovered ‘evidence’ of my doing drugs in various locations, including Club H. Also, a bike shed behind a pub.”
Harry said he went through all of the allegations set out by the editor and “disputed all of it”, telling Dyer to go back to the editor and tell her she was wrong. Despite this, King Charles’s then-spin doctor Mark Bolland - a close friend of Brooks - opted to work with the News of the World, which culminated in a watered-down story in 2002 about Prince Harry smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol.
He described her as a “loathsome toad” and said he had been thrown “under the bus” by Bolland. Referring specifically to Brooks, he writes: “Everyone who knew her was in full agreement that she was an infected pustule on the arse of humanity, plus a shit excuse for a journalist.
“But none of that mattered, because she’d managed to wriggle her way into a position of great power and lately she was focusing all that power upon… me. She was hunting the Spare, straight out, and making no apologies for it. She wouldn’t stop until my balls were nailed to her office wall.”
The story also claimed Harry had been sent to rehab by his father in light of its reporting. However, the Prince said the visit - which actually occurred several months before Brooks approached the Royal Family - was “a typical part of my princely charitable work”.
What does Rehabber Kooks mean?
After the story was published, Prince Harry said in Spare that he asked for the editor’s name and then “committed it to memory, but in the years since then I’ve avoided speaking it”.
He added: “Can it possibly be a coincidence that the name of the woman who pretended I went to rehab was a perfect anagram for…Rehabber Kooks? Is the universe not saying something there?”