Prince Harry ‘Spare’ memoir released, seeking change in the royal family

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LONDON — Tuesday marks the publishing debut for Prince Harry’s memoir “Spare,” a book described by the press as a bridge-burner and a flamethrower, with its revealing — heartfelt? cruel? banal? — portraits of his family and the inner circles within circles of the House of Windsor, which he portrays as a devious coven of backstabbing, jealousy and bottomless need.

Safe to say that the book launch did not turn out as Harry and his publisher had so meticulously planned. Early copies printed in Spanish were available last week and so there have been days of giddy revelations in the very tabloids that the Duke of Sussex so loathes.

Harry lost his virginity in a field, we learn. Harry shot 25 Taliban. Harry and his older brother the heir, Prince William, bickered – a lot. Plus William looks older and is more bald and their wives fought over lip gloss and “baby brains” and bridesmaid dresses, Harry writes.

Takeaways from Prince Harry’s leaked memoir, ‘Spare’

So, what now, what’s next?

In the book and in the stream of interviews he has given, to CBS’s “60 Minutes,” to ITV in London and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” it is difficult to know what exactly Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex , really want.

Following the Netflix series “Harry & Meghan,” Prince Harry went on a media tour for his new memoir, “Spare,” set to be released on Jan. 10. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

“I don’t think my father or brother will read the book,” Harry said on ITV in Britain, after writing in the prologue that he was writing the book so they would understand him, and why he and Meghan had to flee him. mother country” for California “in fear for our sanity and physical safety.”

Harry told an interviewer that he would forever be a part of the family, pushing aside a question about giving up their royal titles. He said he saw no way back in, but who knows? Members of the House of Windsor are very long-lived.

Early reviews describe the book as a cry for help, for change, from Harry to a family that he calls “trapped” in their roles. Others see whiny indulgence — and just the opposite of the late queen who was praised for her duty, service, honor and inscrutable quiet on all family matters. Elizabeth never gave an interview to the press in her 70 years on the throne.

Harry and Meghan have said that their origin story has not been told – until now. But in the 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview, the many sit-downs promoting the memoir, the six hours of documentary that Harry and Meghan produced about themselves for Netflix, titled “Harry & Meghan,” they have surely gotten their side out.

In any case, the book is going to sell. It’s already at the top of the bestseller lists. It’s a smash. It’s Michelle Obama big. And there will probably be more books by Harry and Meghan, who have traded jobs from working “senior royals” to former senior royals, who are retaining their titles while talking about the family that won’t talk about them.

And what about the reconciliation, peace, or reckoning that Harry speaks so much about? Is that a possibility? Not very likely, say the royal correspondents, whom Harry also loathes — and mocks.

Harry’s father, Charles, is set for his coronation in May. It is unknown at present whether Harry and Meghan will attend.

It is true that the couple succeeded in one of their goals, taking back some control of their own narrative. No members of the royal family have ever gone where Harry and Meghan have in detailing family dysfunction, and naming names.

How Prince Harry and Prince William’s relationship broke down: A timeline

Harry appears to really have it in for his stepmother, Camilla, Queen Consort, the wife and longtime lover of his father, now the new King Charles III. She, in Harry’s take, is a schemer who played “the long game.” A campaign aimed at marriage, and eventually the crown.”

While many Britons have turned sour on the prince and his American wife, many too have related to their story, especially the charges that the royal family and the British tabloids are either racist or suffer from “unconscious bias.”

A few minutes after midnight on Tuesday, Sarah Nakana, 46, a surveyor who works in property and lives in south London, was one of the first in the country to buy a copy of “Spare,” from a bookshop in a near-empty Victoria Station.

“I’m excited to hear about Prince Harry’s life from Prince Harry,” said Nakana, clutching a hardback copy of the 417-page book.

“I want to get ahead of the UK press … there will be a frenzy of anti-Harry and Meghanness in the morning, because hate sells … and it’s important for me to hear his story in his words,” she said.

As if on cue, this first book-buyer was surrounded by a throng of about 30 photographers and journalists. “It’s a bit ridiculous,” Nakana said of the scrum, “but I understand the interest in the book because he’s the first prince of our generation to put his life in writing.”

In his interviews, Harry confesses that he has lost both his father and brother, but that he longs for — nay, demands — their attention. He wants reconciliation and accounting, but on his terms.

Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have continued to decline to comment on any of this – as is their way.

“He’s an angry young man,” said Dickie Arbiter, a former spokesman for Queen Elizabeth II. “He is making these accusations and these allegations and not backing them up with any further information about them. He’s just saying, this is what they’ve done and he’s saying it knowing full well that they’re not going to respond.”

Imagine if William responded publicly, Arbiter said. “If William would come out and deny that he had pushed Harry at Nottingham Cottage, there would then be a question from a reporter. ‘Okay, well, what happened?’ I mean, that is perpetuating the story, isn’t it?”

It would descend, Arbiter said, to “He says, he says, she says, she says.”

In the book, Harry says Charles implored the two brothers to stop their ceaseless arguing, saying after the funeral of his father Prince Philip in 2021: “Please, boys. Don’t make my final years a misery.”

It is a sad line in the book filled with sadness.

Valentine Low, author of “Courtiers: Intrigue, Ambition and the Power Players Behind the House of Windsor,” said that while Harry had made an “astonishing” array of revelations and allegations, the damage may not be as bad as some had feared.

He said that after the death of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash in a Paris tunnel in 1997, “the standing of the royal family was at a low ebb” but even then, “they somehow got through it all.”

The monarchy, he said, “has an astonishing capacity to survive … I kind of feel that the royal family seems to have sufficient goodwill extended towards it and manages to get through these crises.”

The silence from Buckingham Palace prompts people to “fill in the blanks” on what they think Charles and William’s response might be, said Pauline Maclaran, a monarchy expert at Royal Holloway, University of London.

“Harry has said so much, people are likely to think, oh, poor Charles, it’s like a Shakespearean drama with a wayward son,” she said. “I think people can relate to these battles very clearly but they can’t relate to Harry so much, at least on the British side, because he’s not acknowledging any faults, really everyone else is to blame, even his famous wearing of the Nazi uniform is William and Kate’s fault.”

The flip side, Maclaran said, the royals “are inherently pretty boring, but now suddenly, with the emotional engagement, we’d miss them if they were gone. We bond with our neighbors saying, ‘What has Harry done now?'”

Things that seemed shocking when first published felt less so a few days later and many commentators have said, well, families fight.

Except the circumstances of their births are extraordinary – and that is the way it works with hereditary monarchy. William is heir. Harry is spare. And more spare by the day with each child that William and Catherine, Princess of Wales, have.

“William doesn’t come across terribly well, he seems to have a temper. Was he a bit overbearing to his brother? Possibly, but we just have Harry’s word for it,” Low said. “But on the other hand, they are brothers, and these are the kind of fights brothers have. Harry is also complaining about everything and everyone and people are starting to discount that.”

Prince Harry says father, brother, stepmother conspired against him and Meghan

A YouGov poll published Monday, a day before the book launch, found that only 26 percent of people had a positive opinion of Harry, down from 49 percent in December — a record low for him. William’s popularity ratings have also taken a hit, with 69 percent saying they had a positive view of him, down from 77 percent last month.

Some authorities on the monarchy say that Harry’s book will undermine the institution, weaken it at home and abroad, undercut the “soft power” the House of Windsor exerts, both in America and the Commonwealth countries.

Anna Whitelock, a professor of history of modern monarchy at City University of London, said that Harry’s claims were “uncomfortable for the royal family.”

But “beyond bad PR and the sense that the British royal family drama is something akin to a box set thriller, the damage to the institution of monarchy per se is harder to assess at this stage.”

Whitelock added that “certainly, in raising the issues of the toxic relationship between the press and the palace, the briefing of rival households, the treatment of ‘spares’ and the inherent misogyny and unconscious bias within the institution, Harry challenges the monarchy to reflect and reform. But whether it does, and whether the public demands it or not, remains to be seen.”

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