Spare by Prince Harry is already the publishing moment of the year. It is the fastest selling non-fiction book of all time, it is a headline-generating dream, it is an unprecedented insight into life growing up as a senior member of the British Royal family. Prince Harry has the power to elicit a strong reaction from so many people. And in his memoir, he doesn’t hold back.
When I first heard Prince Harry was releasing a book, I was on the fence about reading it, but when they released the below cover and the brilliant title – Spare – it jumped straight onto my must-read list. The power of the right title. In one word it said that Harry was going personal and not holding back. It sparked my interest and it absolutely delivered.
Prince Harry’s memory and stories
I listened to Spare on audiobook, hearing Harry read his story to me truly added a personal layer to the experience.
After all the lies and twisted bias Harry has had to deal with from certain areas of the British press over the years, I can totally understand why he wanted to put his version of his life down on paper. He makes it really clear that these are his memories, which I thought was an important thing to do:
Whatever the cause, my memory is my memory. It does what it does, it gathers and curates as it sees fit. There’s just as much truth in what I remember and how I remember it as there is in so called objective facts.
Spare opens in 1997 on the day before Harry lost his mother, Princess Diana. Her death is so sadly memorable to so many of us. I was only a child myself but I remember being so profoundly sad watching those two little boys walk behind their mother’s coffin. It’s just barbaric when you think about it. Something like that is going to stay with you and affect your life, which Harry does go onto explain to a fascinating degree: he gives such a personal insight into how he felt walking behind that coffin.
He is obviously scathing about the media’s role in her death, and who can blame him, really.
It is heart-breaking reading (hearing) how he didn’t cry when he found out about Diana and for many years tried to convince himself his mum had just disappeared not died. He shut down processing his feelings about what happened until many years later.
Identity has always been problematic.
From his royal childhood to finding his path in life, Harry covers it all. How he struggled to work out what he should do with his life is relatable to many, albeit on a different scale for him.
A fascinating insight
There have been so many headlines from Spare already, but here’s a few things I found interesting, revealing more about the man behind the Prince title:
- He listened to soothing animals sounds on CD to relax;
- He didn’t really know Princess Margaret, despite them both being the spares;
- His time in Africa and his gap year in Australia were character building for him and where he got his nickname, Spike;
- The Royal Family motto: never complain, never explain;
- Camilla hired a spin doctor when she went public with Charles to tip things in her favour. Harry realised that he would be sacrificed to the press to save the reputations of the more senior royals;
- He wasn’t actually William’s best man – the palace said he was for ease;
- He loves the TV show Friends and once ended up at Courtney Cox’s house at a party;
- The palace had an input on Meghan Markle’s Suits script in terms of what her character would say;
- William thought that Harry was the Queen’s favourite – Harry did seem to have a lovely relationship with her;
- William is competitive and happily pulls the ‘Heir’ rank;
- The ‘Bee’ and the ‘Wasp’ are his nicknames for manipulative palace officials – showing the power of the people that work for the Royal Family;
- Harry had to ask the Queen for permission to keep his beard to get married;
- Kate and William gave Megan and Harry a dressing down at their home, such crazy insight;
- He did some extreme SAS training, including sensory deprivation;
- He is passionate about his time in the army;
- Charles had a lovely relationship with Meghan;
- Funny, relatable moments like when he went shopping and the supermarket changed its layout (more important to him as he needs to get in and out quicker than the average person, but still);
- Then reminds you he is not quite like you – casually mentions his celeb friends – Elton John, Tom Hardy (he borrowed his Mad Max costume for a party);
- Shares such intimate details such as finding out when Meghan was pregnant;
- There was a framed photo of Diana in the room when Meghan gave birth;
- He reads the wonderful Giraffes Can’t Dance to his children;
- The impact being Royal had on his relationships – it destroyed them all until Meghan, and we all know that hasn’t exactly been easy
He makes his point well
Understanding Harry’s thought process that led him to leaving his role as a senior royal was so interesting too. In his position, it’s impossible to see how he could have stayed. The ‘institution’ doesn’t come out well from Spare. Harry definitely feels he was thrown to the wolves and makes a very persuasive case for it. He does, rightly, call out the glaring injustice of his and Meghan’s treatment by the family versus Andrew’s.
Having now read Spare, I can see how in even reports and headlines about the book, some papers have taken what Harry has said and given it a more salacious context – it seemingly, never stops.
In no way does Harry deserve the level of vitriol that’s thrown his way. There are some very tragic, bitter people out there who take far too much pleasure in coming for a man who has already been through so much.
Brilliantly ghost written by J. R. Moehringer, Spare is perfectly paced and sets the intrigue and drama, delivering over what you think it will when it come to Harry’s personal take on things.
Whatever your opinion is of Prince Harry, for its level of insight into a senior member of the royal family, Spare is one of the most fascinating memoirs I’ve ever read.
- Audiobook narrated by Prince Harry;
- Running time: 15 hrs 37 mins;
- Published by Penguin Random House January 2023;
- Get your copy of Spare here;
- 410 pages;
- My rating:
I’ve been reading it and I didn’t like it! But maybe I’m very biased!
I’ll try to read it with a more open mind!
I am on the fence about this book but your review is so insightful…it has cleared out some of the perception I had. Glad to have read your post!