Spare – Prince Harry Duke of Sussex (Book) – Biography Points

Spare (memoir)

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Spare – Prince Harry Duke of Sussex (Book)

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, has always been a figure of intrigue and fascination. His memoir, Spare, delves into the depths of his life, offering readers an intimate look at the man behind the royal title. This book is more than just a recounting of his experiences; it is a raw and honest portrayal of his journey, struggles, and triumphs.

“Spare” is a memoir by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, released on January 10, 2023. Ghostwritten by J. R. Moehringer and published by Penguin Random House, the book is 416 pages long and available in digital, paperback, and hardcover formats, with translations into fifteen languages. There is also a 15-hour audiobook edition narrated by Harry himself.

The memoir was highly anticipated, accompanied by several major broadcast interviews. The title refers to the aristocratic adage that an “heir and a spare” are needed to ensure that an inheritance remains in the family. In the book, Harry details his childhood, the profound effect of his mother Princess Diana’s death, his teenage years, and his deployment to Afghanistan with the British Army. He writes about his relationships with his older brother, Prince William, his father, King Charles III, and his father’s marriage to Queen Camilla. The memoir also covers his courtship and marriage to American actress Meghan Markle and the couple’s subsequent step back from royal duties.

“Spare” received mixed reviews from critics, some praising Harry’s openness while others criticized the inclusion of too many personal details. According to Guinness World Records, “Spare” became “the fastest selling non-fiction book of all time” on its release date.

Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

Spare (memoir)
10 January 2023
TitleSpare (memoir)
Author Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Publication Date10 January 2023
Country of OriginUnited States
Original LanguageEnglish
Publisher Penguin Random House
GenreMemoir
Cover ArtistHarry Narrates
Media TypePrint
Pages416
ISBN 9780593593806

Background and Writing

In July 2021, it was announced that Harry would publish a memoir via Penguin Random House, with proceeds from sales going to charity. Harry reportedly earned an advance of at least $20 million. The book is ghostwritten by journalist J. R. Moehringer. In August 2021, Harry confirmed that $1.5 million of the proceeds would go to the charity Sentebale, and £300,000 would be given to WellChild.

Harry stated: “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become. I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story – the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned – I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.” He described the book as “accurate and wholly truthful.” The publisher highlighted the book’s insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom.

The Times reported in January 2023 that Harry had second thoughts about publishing the book after visiting his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the summer of 2022 but ultimately decided to proceed. In an interview with Bryony Gordon, Harry revealed that the first draft was 800 pages, but it was reduced to about 400 pages to omit sensitive content about his father and brother. He emphasized that the book’s aim was “not trying to collapse the monarchy” but to reform it for the sake of future “spares,” like his brother’s younger children, despite William’s assertion that his children are not Harry’s responsibility.

Synopsis

“Spare” is Prince Harry’s candid memoir, released on January 10, 2023. The title alludes to the traditional need for an “heir and a spare” in royal lineage. The book, ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer and published by Penguin Random House, spans 416 pages across various formats and has been translated into fifteen languages. It also features a 15-hour audiobook edition narrated by Harry himself.

The memoir begins with a pivotal meeting where Harry discusses his decision to step back from royal duties with his father and brother. It delves into his upbringing, education, military service with the British Army, and his personal relationships, notably with his wife Meghan Markle.

Spare is a memoir by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Spare is a memoir by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

Plot Summary

Harry reflects on his role as “the spare” in contrast to his older brother William, likening their dynamic to that of Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II. He discusses the profound impact of his mother Diana’s death and challenges tabloid-fueled rumors about his parentage.

In candid detail, Harry addresses his rebellious teenage years, including his experimentation with drugs and his deployment to Afghanistan. He recounts his experiences in combat and the personal toll it took on him.

The memoir explores Harry’s relationships within his family, including his evolving bond with his father Prince Charles and stepmother Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. It covers his best man role at William’s wedding, personal conflicts, and public scrutiny of his relationships.

Harry shares intimate moments from his courtship and marriage to Meghan, including their challenges with public scrutiny and family dynamics. He discusses their decision to step back from royal life and their experiences as parents, including the loss of a pregnancy.

The book concludes with Harry’s perspective on his decision to step back from his royal role, detailing tense family discussions and his struggles with the royal institution’s constraints and media scrutiny.

A Tale of Love and Liberation

A significant portion of Spare is dedicated to Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. Their love story, which captivated the world, is portrayed with heartfelt sincerity. Harry shares the challenges they faced as a couple, including the intense media scrutiny and the decision to step back from their royal duties. This decision, often referred to as “Megxit,” is explored in detail, shedding light on the couple’s desire for a more private and autonomous life.

Release

Spare was officially published on January 10, 2023, and has been translated into fifteen languages, including German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, French, Italian, Spanish, European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, Polish, Greek, Hungarian, Finnish, and Chinese. Initially priced at £28, it was heavily discounted by major booksellers even before its release, sparking criticism from smaller retailers unable to compete with the lower price. Notably, the Spanish edition, En La Sombra (In The Shadow), was mistakenly sold in some bookstores in Spain five days before the official release date but was quickly withdrawn.

The memoir’s title, Spare, references the phrase “heir and a spare,” reflecting Harry’s perception of his role within the royal family.

Promotion

To promote the book, Harry participated in three significant broadcast interviews filmed in California:

  • 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper on January 8, 2023.
  • Harry: The Interview with Tom Bradby on ITV1, also on January 8, 2023.
  • Good Morning America with Michael Strahan on January 9, 2023, followed by a special titled Prince Harry: In His Own Words on ABC.

Harry also appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on January 10, 2023, and gave exclusive interviews to People magazine and Bryony Gordon for The Telegraph.

Interview Highlights

In the interview with Anderson Cooper, Harry stated, “Every single time I’ve tried to do it privately, there have been briefings and leakings and planting of stories against me and my wife.” He criticized the palace’s practice of feeding stories to correspondents and then pretending to be neutral by asking for comments. Harry expressed frustration that the palace refused to issue statements to protect him and Meghan while doing so for other family members, saying, “There becomes a point when silence is betrayal.” This phrase was noted to be a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., used without attribution.

In his conversation with Tom Bradby, Harry expressed a desire to reconcile with his family, stating, “I would like to get my father back, I would like to have my brother back. I want a family, not an institution.” He accused the family of portraying him and Meghan as villains and showing no willingness to reconcile.

Sources close to King Charles III responded, asserting that he loves both of his sons and has kept communication channels open despite occasional tensions. They also noted that Charles and Harry had met several times during Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022.

In his interview with Michael Strahan, Harry emphasized the need for truth, stating, “I don’t think that we can ever have peace with my family unless the truth is out there.”

Reception of "Spare"

“Spare” experienced remarkable success upon its release, selling over 1.4 million copies across all formats in the US, Canada, and the UK on its first day. Penguin Random House described it as the largest first-day sales total for any nonfiction book they have ever published. The memoir broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time, previously held by Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land” (2020). In the UK, “Spare” sold around 400,000 copies on its first day, becoming the country’s fastest-selling non-fiction book ever. Despite having a recommended retail price of £28 in the UK and $36 in the US, many retailers, including Waterstones, WHSmith, and Amazon, sold it at half price. Reports also emerged of PDF files of the memoir being shared for free on WhatsApp, and some customers received two copies despite ordering one.

Worldwide, the book sold more than 3.2 million copies across all formats in its first week, with 1.6 million of those in the US. In the UK, 467,183 print copies and 750,000 copies across all formats were sold in the first week, making it the fastest-selling nonfiction book in the UK since Nielsen BookData began recording official printed book sales in 1998. The book also set records in Ireland, Australia, and France. In Ireland, “Spare” became the fastest-selling non-fiction book since records began, surpassing Paul O’Connell’s autobiography “The Battle.” In Australia, it sold 64,150 print copies and 55,850 audio and eBook copies in its first week, becoming the fastest-selling memoir since records began in 2002. In France, the book sold 150,000 units.

Critical Response

The review aggregator website Book Marks collected 24 reviews for the book: 1 was classified as “rave,” 10 as “positive,” 9 as “mixed,” and 4 as “pan.” Rebecca Mead of The New Yorker praised “Spare” for its narrative force, voice, and surprising wit, noting its potential historical importance. Charlotte Higgins of The Guardian found the memoir “compassion-inducing, frustrating, oddly compelling, and absurd,” criticizing Harry for being simultaneously loathing and locked into tabloid storytelling tropes. Alexandra Jacobs of The New York Times described “Spare” as emotionally and physically all over the map, adding that Harry seemed both driven mad by “the buzz” and unable to stop generating it.

Lucia Pavia of The Independent gave “Spare” four out of five stars, calling it a breathtakingly frank book. Jessie Thompson of the same newspaper found the content “horrifyingly personal” and “too private,” criticizing Harry for breaking his silence repeatedly. Tom Peck argued that Harry’s arguments were hard to take seriously when making them earned him a significant amount of money. Henry Mance of the Financial Times acknowledged Harry’s oversharing but defended his right to speak about his life, calling “Spare” the most insightful royal book in a generation. Anita Singh of The Telegraph thought the book was well-constructed and fluently written, focusing on Harry’s unresolved relationship with his mother, Diana.

James Marriott of The Times labeled the memoir a “400-page therapy session,” criticizing Harry’s portrayal of his wife Meghan. Dominic Ponsford of Press Gazette argued that Harry had breached his family’s privacy and undermined his own future right to privacy. Sean Coughlan of the BBC called “Spare” the “weirdest book ever written by a royal,” noting its disarmingly frank and intimate details. Katie Spencer of Sky News described the memoir as tender yet bizarrely unrelatable. In November 2023, Time included “Spare” in its list of “The 100 Must-Read Books of 2023.”

Afghanistan Comments

Harry’s admission in the book that he had killed 25 Taliban fighters sparked significant backlash. Twitter users in Afghanistan branded him a “murderer” and a “crusader.” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the spokesperson for the Taliban-led regime in Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, condemned Harry’s comments as a microcosm of the trauma experienced by Afghans at the hands of occupation forces. Taliban commander Molavi Agha Gol called Harry a “big mouth loser,” while Khalid Zadran, a Taliban official, stated that criminals like Harry should be brought to justice. Anas Haqqani, a Taliban propagandist, criticized Harry for comparing his opponents to chess pieces, claiming no casualties in Helmand on the days Harry mentioned.

American-Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah called for Harry’s extradition to Afghanistan to face criminal charges. British figures, including Andrew Neil, Mark Borkowski, and Conservative MP Bob Stewart, criticized Harry’s remarks for their potential security implications and insensitivity. Military figures like Colonel Tim Collins and Colonel Richard Kemp echoed these sentiments, warning of the potential for Jihadist propaganda and the breach of military norms. Retired Royal Navy officer Chris Parry and former British Army captain Mike Crofts also condemned Harry’s comments.

In response to the criticism, Harry stated that sharing his experiences was necessary for his healing journey and condemned pre-publication leaks that quoted the book out of context. Author and psychologist Jessica Taylor defended Harry, suggesting that speaking openly about trauma could help normalize and validate such experiences.

The Iranian government also reacted negatively to Harry’s comments following the UK’s condemnation of the execution of Iranian British dual national Alireza Akbari. The Iranian Foreign Ministry accused the British regime of hypocrisy, citing Harry’s actions in Afghanistan.

In February 2023, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace criticized Harry’s statements on an LBC radio program, and Russian conceptual artist Andrei Molodkin protested by projecting a sculpture filled with blood onto St Paul’s Cathedral and covering 25 copies of “Spare” with human blood donated by Afghans.

Discussions on Mental Health

In “Spare,” Harry discussed his reliance on therapy, including an immediate call to his therapist after a physical altercation with his brother in 2019. Journalist Daniel Bird noted a perceived inconsistency with Meghan’s earlier claims about being denied mental health support. Meredith Clark of The Independent praised Harry for breaking the stigma around men seeking mental help, while trauma therapist Lisa Turner suggested Harry wrote the memoir because he was “hurting.”

Harry’s mental health advocacy was criticized by sources close to his family, who accused him of undermining their mental health. Some sources suggested that Harry’s repeated “ambushing” of the royal family had taken a toll on his late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Harry also speculated that media abuse led to the suicide of his former girlfriend Caroline Flack, a claim disputed by Flack’s former publicist Alex Mullen.

Harry (right) aged six, meeting Barbara Bush alongisde his brother William and mother Diana
Harry (right) aged six, meeting Barbara Bush alongisde his brother William and mother Diana

Response

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed confidence in the monarchy despite the allegations in “Spare,” highlighting the public’s regard for the Royal Family. Patti Davis, daughter of Nancy and Ronald Reagan, discouraged Harry from writing the book, reflecting on her own regrets about a similar memoir.

Public Opinion

Ahead of the release of “Spare,” Harry’s popularity in the UK declined further, with almost two-thirds of the population viewing him negatively. A YouGov survey in January 2023 found that only a quarter of participants viewed him positively, and another poll showed that 68% had a negative view compared to 21% with a favorable opinion. Many respondents believed Harry’s motivation for releasing the book was financial rather than for setting the record straight.

Veracity of Claims

Harry asserted, “Whatever the cause, my memory is my memory, it does what it does, gathers and curates as it sees fit, and there’s just as much truth in what I remember and how I remember it as there is in so-called objective facts.” His memoir detailed various controversial claims, including:

  • Harry alleged that his stepmother Camilla leaked details of a private conversation with his brother William to the press. However, sources close to Camilla denied this, attributing the leak to her aide Amanda MacManus’s spouse, a media executive, who shared the information.
  • In response to Harry’s claim that Camilla had orchestrated a long-term strategy aimed at marriage and the crown, her son Tom Parker Bowles refuted the notion, stating that she married for love without ulterior motives.
  • A former royal aide disputed Harry’s account of choosing a Nazi costume for a party, stating that no advisors were informed of William and Kate’s involvement at the time.
  • Contrary to Harry’s assertion, records show that he was on vacation in Switzerland with his father and brother when Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother passed away, despite his claim of learning about her death via phone call at Eton.
  • Harry claimed Camilla suggested he become the governor-general of Bermuda, a position not applicable to British Overseas Territories like Bermuda.
  • His assertion of learning about Queen Elizabeth II’s death via the BBC website was contradicted by reports that his father personally informed him beforehand.
  • Discrepancies also arose regarding Meghan’s attire during their first meeting, as Harry recalled a black sweatshirt and jeans while Meghan previously stated she wore a blue dress.
  • Claims about disputes within the royal household were countered by assertions that Meghan’s behavior, including allegedly excluding the Cambridges from an ice cream social, exacerbated tensions rather than fostering kindness as Harry described.
  • Former employees cited instances where Meghan alternated between generous gestures like buying flowers and behavior described as bullying, which Meghan denied.

 

In Popular Culture

Harry’s memoir, and its contentious contents, have been subject to parody and criticism:

  • South Park’s 2023 episode “The Worldwide Privacy Tour” lampooned the book, depicting a fictional Prince of Canada and his wife embarking on a similar memoir tour demanding privacy.
  • Lovehoney referenced the memoir in advertisements for a “spare” ball gag, echoing the narrative’s focus on privacy with the tagline “Silence is golden, Harry.”

These revisions integrate updates and clarify the controversial claims made in Harry’s memoir, reflecting ongoing debates and responses from various parties involved.

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