A brief book review: Spare memoir or betrayal book

The book that you will read is Prince Harry’s memoir but not just a simple one with a kind tone. Spare is part confession, part rant and part love letter. In places, it feels like the longest angry drunk text ever sent. It’s the view inside what he calls a “surreal fishbowl” and “unending Truman Show”. It’s disarmingly frank and intimate – showing the sheer weirdness of his often-isolated life. And the small details, rather than the set-piece moments, give a glimpse of how little we knew. There are glimpses of him as a royal stoner, smoking a joint after dinner and worrying the smoke would blow over to his elderly neighbour, the Duke of Kent. What would other royal recollection cover losing his virginity behind a pub or go into such prolonged detail about a frost-bitten penis? This royal appendage gets more lines than many of his relatives. There should be a spoiler alert for the unique cushion that’s made. He was also keenly conscious of girls with “throne syndrome”, who would be “visibly fitting herself with a crown the moment she shook my hand”.

Expectations are over

After all the interviews and documentaries with different media, he again comes up with his memoir, “Spare,” which finally hit bookstores around the globe on Tuesday; Prince Harry cements his place as the world’s least predictable living royal — a chaos agent of the most exciting kind. The book is full of references that, out of context, can sound ridiculous, but they often open a window onto the mind of the estranged Duke of Sussex that more well-worn anecdotes about tiffs over children’s formal wear might not. Charles didn’t want 12-year-old Harry to spend his half-term break at St. James’s Palace, where he “might glimpse a newspaper, overhear a radio” talking about Diana as the British press “veered into psychosis” over her death. Harry wrote in hindsight, “Pa’s staff hoped a photo of him standing alongside the world’s most revered political leader and the world’s most popular female act would earn him some positive headlines, which he sorely needed. His approval rating around the world was in single digits.”

A throne and a happy marriage is an unattainable dream.

Harry had been told that as number six in line for the throne, he had to ask the queen’s permission before proposing marriage to Meghan Markle, a divorcée. He decided he would get his grandmother alone during a family hunting trip. He didn’t succeed until after the final drive of the day. “I saw Granny jump into her smaller Range Rover and drive out to the middle of the stubble field. She began looking for dead birds while her dogs hunted.” Harry fell beside her, helping gather birds, and tried to start a conversation while his subconscious “was popping” with thoughts of what he would do if he couldn’t marry his beloved. But he managed to get the words out, telling Queen Elizabeth II that he loved Meg very much, wanted to marry her, and had said he had to ask her for permission. “You have to?” the queen asked. Yes, Harry replied, her staff had told him. Studying invited reflection; reflection invited grief; emotions were best avoided. But he does himself an injustice.

The role of King Charles III and his stepmother

The same old story of stepmothers comes at the point when Camilla arrives in the story to become his stepmother, with the narrative exuding a mixture of suspicion and a determined effort to be polite. But mostly suspicion. It feels a bit divorced dad telling everyone he’s not bitter; he doesn’t mind that he paid for everything, really, not bitter at all, just wishing them both well…But taken as a whole, beyond the excerpts, a much warmer picture emerges of his father, King Charles, even when it seems that the narrator is giving him a hard time. Charles is seen padding around in his slippers, listening to his audiobooks, obsessed with Shakespeare, wearing Dior scent and falling asleep at his desk. He’s seen as having faced terrible school bullying, still keeping a teddy bear as a totem of a lonely childhood. After Diana’s death, his father tries to provide some emotional support for Harry, sitting up with him until he falls asleep at night. Still, it feels as though his good intentions had to navigate some tricky barriers. Charles leaves notes for him trying to say nice things – but Harry questions why he couldn’t know them in person. He goes to see Harry in a school play, laughs uproariously, and is then criticised by his son for laughing in the wrong places.

Royal portrait of Him

Spare contends that portrayals of the royals in sections of the press – aside from having at times involved shocking criminality, outright invention, intolerable harassment and overt racism – have also often depended on a kind of zero-sum game, in which one family member’s spokesperson will attempt to protect their client at the expense of another, trading gossip for favours. In his role as the expendable “spare”, Harry has often been the victim of this process, he argues.

The book and publisher’s review

An interesting point of this book is that here we have different comments than in other books. Also, we see that the Publishers often guard against leaks with strict embargoes, in some cases requiring anyone who works on the book, including typesetters and copy editors, to sign nondisclosure agreements. Retailers are often required to sign an affidavit agreeing to store books in a monitored, locked and secure area if they get copies before the on-sale date. Some publishing executives even choose to refrain from sending highly anticipated books to airport bookstores because they tend to pay less attention to embargoes. Publishing executives say leaks can be beneficial if they drive the right media coverage and drum up interest in the book. During the Trump era, some of the most explosive information in tell-all books by journalists and former administration officials often leaked out early. It dominated cable news coverage for days, which catapulted titles to the top of the best-seller lists.

But in some cases, books built around news nuggets can see their sales nosedive after the news cycle is exhausted and the media has moved on. It’s too soon to say whether the overall sales trajectory of Harry’s memoir will be affected by the steady drip of revelations. Many readers will buy the book for an intimate view of Prince Harry’s life from his perspective, not just for bomblets of news.


The core message that comes over loud and clear from Spare, although it is never explicitly stated, is that our current constitution creates a deeply undesirable future for the next generation of royals, for those who will seek to profit by turning them into tabloid heroes and villains, and for those who will passively consume and amplify such nonsense. It sounds an alarm to all Britons, whether royalty, aristocracy or commoner: enough is enough. The point is that this country and its royals are always under the spotlight, whether they are in Westminster or London. The time has passed for this archaic and class-blighted society; we need a constitution for the 21st century.

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