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As Prince Harry's book "Spare" hits shelves, what do the Brits make of it?

Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" released
Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" released 03:55

London — Prince Harry's much-anticipated memoir Spare finally hit shelves Tuesday after a string of explosive leaks and interviews. Many bookstores around the United Kingdom opened early for the release of the much-anticipated memoir — but they didn't necessarily get the much-anticipated footfall through their doors.

Only a trickle of customers showed up Tuesday morning to buy Harry's tell-all account of life in Britain's royal family.

Caroline Lennon, 59, was the only customer waiting outside the landmark Waterstones store in London's busy Piccadilly Circus before the doors opened.

"I've been here since 6 o'clock this morning," Lennon told CBS News shortly after picking up a copy of Spare. "I'm very happy and I can't wait to read it. I expected there to be a lot more people. I'm shocked." 

She was quick to add that, in the royal battle Harry has described himself facing with his family, and his brother Prince William in particular, she was staying neutral.

"He wanted to get this off his chest, and I agree with that. But I'm not siding with anybody because I like both Harry and William," Lennon said. "He's carried this unhappiness with him for quite a while and I hope he gets the help he needs and comes to terms with this, because I understand where he's coming from." 

After she bought the book, Lennon — the only customer who came in right away in search of Spare — spent nearly an hour answering questions from the pack of national and international news reporters who had gathered at the store. 

"I just feel sorry for him," said another customer who came later and also purchased the book, adding that he did believe Harry had "made mistakes in some of his revelations."

Prince Harry accuses Camilla of leaking stories 02:15

Harry has lived in California with his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, since not long after the couple first went public with claims of mistreatment and racism by the royal family and the British press.

"I've got an open mind, but I think it's sad he wrote this book, because it doesn't help him, ultimately, and it certainly doesn't help the royal family," added the man, who purchased Spare to take on vacation. 

Copies of Spare were leaked to the British press the week before its official release, and it was also mistakenly sold in some bookstores in Spain, giving the world several days to consider Harry's claims - and whether they were worth an investment - before the book was actually available to purchase.

While the reaction at bookstores in the U.K. was unremarkable, the book did rocket quickly to the top of some online vendors' bestseller lists, and it was expected to be among the most popular books of the year globally.

In it, the Duke of Sussex describes his family as "very large," "very ancient," and "very dysfunctional." 

He said his father, King Charles III, had "trouble communicating, trouble listening, trouble being intimate face to face," and claims he didn't even get a hug off his dad when Harry and William's mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a car crash. 

Prince Harry opens up about royal family rift in "60 Minutes" interview 04:32

Before the book was released, Harry did exclusive sit-down interviews with "60 Minutes" and Britain's ITV. 

One of the key allegations from both Harry's book and he and Meghan's previous interviews is that members of his own family or their staff have been "enabling, if not outright collaborating" with the British tabloid press, including in a "vicious campaign" to cast Meghan as a bully. 

The same papers implicated in that allegation were again criticizing Harry on Tuesday morning, accusing him of making himself and the royal family a laughing stock — including over his imminent appearance on CBS' "Late Show with Stephen Colbert," where he apparently drinks tequila with the show's host, who refers to him in a promotional clip as "Your Harryness." 

"It's absolutely ridiculous going on about the press all the time," Kelvin McKenzie, former editor of one of the U.K.'s biggest circulation tabloid newspapers, The Sun, told CBS News. "Some [news outlets] are on your side, some are against you. Get over it. He can't get over it, so he's gone to Southern California. Goodbye, thanks very much."

Tina Brown discusses Prince Harry's revealing interview on "60 Minutes" 06:01

But the prince does have his supporters within the U.K., some of whom couldn't wait to get their hands on his book.

Fiona Leviny, another customer at Waterstones on Tuesday, said she was buying the book "to hear Harry's story. I want to read it for myself." 

"There is so much talked about Harry and Meghan, and I want to know the truth for myself, so that's why I'm buying and reading it."

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