book review

Review: Spare by Prince Harry

I know this is not the type of book I usually review, and if this is not *your cup of tea,* you don’t have to read this post! I don’t often read memoirs, but the sociological, historical, and psychological aspects of a royal writing a memoir was too interesting to pass up. I know this subject is controversial to some. I’ll start by saying I am not a monarchist and I believe Britain’s monarchy is obsolete. That said, the history of monarchy in Britain has always been an interesting subject to me. Half of my family is English, so I can understand Harry’s descriptions of repressed emotions, keeping things quiet, and little physical contact. But the royal family takes that English stereotype and amplifies it by a thousand.

I never really followed all the Windsor family drama in tabloids and magazines because I knew it was all bullshit. When Harry started branching out and doing his own interviews (re: the South Africa tour with Meghan,) something felt different. He seemed genuine, he seemed to be speaking his truth, and it made total sense to me that he didn’t want his wife and child to succumb to the same fate as his mother (mercilessly hounded by paps which ultimately caused her death.) When Meghan came into the public eye, I was for sure aware of the racist stuff going around the British tabloids and on social media, and I thought it was disgusting. It was blatant and transparent, so again I understand why Harry would want to stand up against that and also rally against his family in their complicit silence (but as we find in this book, the deliberate feeding of false stories to the press.) The Netflix docuseries covers much of what is in this book, but the book goes into more detail as well as recounts Harry’s military service, the one-sided sibling rivalry with William (William being the antagonist here,) and when Charles told Harry Diana had been killed (Charles didn’t hug him, because English.)

On a large scale, Spare is a dismantling of many things: racism, monarchy, colonialism, the pap-industrial complex. Harry admits that he wasn’t always aware of these issues because he led a life of privilege, and it took the public’s treatment toward his bi-racial wife to open his eyes. The Windsors did him dirty, as they did Diana. The whole motto of “don’t complain, never explain” has clearly bred an environment of toxicity that turns family member against family member. The monarchy has always had to be seen as neutral in all political matters in an effort not to alienate the public that contributes to their coffers via tax money. Standing up for something in the royal family essentially threatens the monarchy. And from Harry’s account, they’d rather have monarchy instead of family, except you can’t have a monarchy without that family.

Some tea: William and Kate seem very uptight, snobbish, and lacking senses of humor. (They got mad at H & M for not buying them Easter presents when they’d never done that before??) William consistently voices his disapproval about Meghan because he believes the lies the press write. At the same time, William knows even his own father and Camilla have fed false stories to the press about him and Kate. When Harry said during the Oprah interview that someone in the family asked “how dark” Harry and Meghan’s kids would be, I have a suspicion it might have been William. There were also several courtiers and staff who acted like they were out of a court of old in terms of ass-kissing and power plays. Many of them acted super weird toward Harry and Meghan and would often lie, cover things up, or be very obstructive for seemingly no reason at all (the actual reason likely being racism, classism, and the mentality that the “spare” is lower than them in the palace hierarchy.)

To play devil’s advocate, I also acknowledge that this is Harry’s perspective. I believe him, but there are times when he doesn’t fully recount a conversation or context of a story. I suspect that is due to legal issues and not wanting to be hit with any libel cases. The only inconsistency I personally found was when Harry said Meghan bought her dad first class plane tickets to their wedding, but then later in the book says they have old furniture and lamps from IKEA. Okay, maybe she wanted to do something really special for her dad because it was her wedding, I don’t know.

Bottom line: I’ve always supported Harry and Meghan’s choice to remove themselves and their children from that toxic environment. Naysayers argue if they want to be out of the public eye, then why do they keep doing interviews, have a Netflix doc, write a book, etc. Well, I think that’s multilayered reasoning, but if you look at it in a black and white way like that I can see how it wouldn’t make sense for some. My theory: 1) after so many lies and public abuse, wouldn’t most people want to tell their true story? 2) destroy the harmful pap-“journalism” industrial complex and hold them accountable. 3) Towards the end of the book, Harry says his dad cut him off. He had essentially never been able to have his “own” money and it was all controlled by his dad/the crown his whole life so he was actually never able to have or make his own. The money that he has that IS his own is his inheritance from Diana. So, practically speaking, yes they make money from Netflix and interviews and a book. That in no way detracts from the humanitarian work they continue to engage in.