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Prince Harry’s memoir ‘Spare’ released, seeks change in royal family


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LONDON — Tuesday marks the publication of Prince Harry’s memoir “Spare,” a book described by the press as a bridge-burner and a flamethrower, with its revelation that — sincerely? cruel? banal? — portraits of his family and inner circles in the House of Windsor circles, which he describes as a vile covenant of backstabbing, jealousy and bottomless neediness.

It’s safe to say that the launch of the book didn’t turn out as Harry and his publisher had so meticulously planned. The first copies printed in Spanish were available last week and so there have been days of dizzying revelations in the tabloids the Duke of Sussex so loathes.

Harry lost his virginity in the field, we learn. Harry shot 25 Taliban. Harry and his elder brother the heir, Prince William was arguing – a lot. Also, William looks older and is balder, and their wives fought over lip gloss and “baby brains” and bridesmaid dresses, Harry wrote.

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

So what now, what next?

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

Following the Netflix series ‘Harry & Meghan’, Prince Harry embarked on a media tour for his new memoir ‘Spare’, due for release on January 10. (Video: Ali Karen/The Washington Post)

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

Harry told an interviewer that he would forever be part of the family, brushing aside the question of giving up their royal titles. He said he doesn’t see a way back, but who knows? Members of the House of Windsor are very long-lived.

Early reviews described the book as a cry for help, for change, from Harry to a family he calls “trapped” in their roles. Others see whiny condescension – and the exact opposite of the late queen, who was praised for her duty, service, honor and unattainable silence about all things family. Elizabeth never gave a press interview during her 70 years on the throne.

Harry and Meghan said their origin story hasn’t been told – until now. But in an Oprah Winfrey interview in 2021, the many sit-downs to promote the memoir, a six-hour documentary that Harry and Meghan produced about themselves for Netflix titled ‘Harry and Meghan’ they certainly brought out their side.

In any case, the book will sell. It’s already topping the bestseller lists. It’s a smash. Michelle Obama is big. There will likely be more books from Harry and Meghan, who have swapped jobs from “senior royals” to former senior royals who keep their titles while talking about the family that won’t talk about them.

And what about the reconciliation, peace, or payback that Harry talks about so much? Is this possible? Not very likely, say royal correspondents, whom Harry also loathes – and mocks.

Harry’s father, Charles, is due to be crowned in May. It is not yet known whether Harry and Meghan will attend.

It’s true that the couple succeeded in one of their goals by regaining some control over their own narrative. No one in the royal family has ever gone where Harry and Meghan describe family problems and name names.

How Prince Harry and Prince William’s relationship broke up: a timeline

Harry appears to be genuinely interested in his stepmother Camilla, Queen Consort, wife and longtime mistress of his father, now the new King Charles III. She is, according to Harry, a schemer who plays “the long game. A campaign aimed at marriage and ultimately the crown.”

While many Britons have railed against the prince and his American wife, many have also bought into their story, particularly accusations that the royal family and British tabloids are either racist or suffer from “unconscious bias”.

A few minutes after midnight on Tuesday, Sarah Nakana, 46, a property surveyor living in south London, was one of the first in the country to buy a copy of Spare from a bookshop in an almost empty Victoria Station.

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

“I want to get ahead of the UK press … there will be a frenzy against Harry and Meghan 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 crowd of about 30 photographers and journalists. “It’s a little ridiculous,” Nakana said of the skirmish, “but I understand the interest in the book because he’s the first prince of our generation to describe his life in writing.”

Harry admits in interviews that he’s lost both his father and brother, but that he craves — no, demands — their attention. He wants reconciliation and a reckoning, but on his terms.

Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace continue to refuse 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’s making these accusations and these allegations and not backing them up with any additional information about them. He just says that’s what they did, and he says it knowing full well that they won’t answer.

Imagine William responding publicly, Arbiter said. “If William came out and denied pushing Harry at Nottingham Cottage, then there would be a question from a reporter. ‘Okay, what happened?’ I mean, it’s perpetuating history, right?’

It will come down, Arbiter said, to “He says, he says, she says, she says.”

In the book, Harry says Charles begged the two brothers to stop their constant bickering, saying after their father Prince Philip’s funeral in 2021: “Please, boys. Don’t make my last years a misery.”

This is a sad line in the book, filled with sadness.

Valentine Lowe, author of Courtiers: Intrigue, Ambition and the Power Players Behind the House of Windsor, said that while Harry had made an “amazing” array of revelations and claims, the damage may not be as bad as some have made it out to be. they feared.

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

The monarchy, he said, “has an amazing capacity to survive… Somehow I feel that the royal family seems to have enough goodwill towards it and is able to get through these crises.”

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

“Harry has said so much, people will probably think, oh poor Charles, it’s like a Shakespeare play with a wayward son,” she said. “I think people can relate very clearly to those battles, but they can’t Harry so much, at least on the British side, because he doesn’t admit any wrongdoing, really everyone else is guilty, even his famous wearing of a Nazi uniform is more William and Kate’s fault.

On the flip side, McLaren said, the royals “are inherently pretty boring, but now suddenly, with the emotional commitment, we’d miss them if they weren’t there. We contact our neighbors saying, “What has Harry done now?”

Things that seem shocking when first posted feel less so a few days later, and many commenters said, well, families fight.

Except the circumstances of their birth are exceptional – and that’s how it works with hereditary monarchy. William is the heir. Harry is a backup. And more so every day with every child William and Catherine, Princess of Wales have.

“William doesn’t look too good, he seems to have a temper. Was he a bit overbearing with his brother? It’s possible, but we just have Harry’s word for it,” Lowe said. “But on the other hand, they are brothers and these are the battles between brothers. Harry also complains about everything and everyone and people start to reject this.

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

A YouGov poll published on Monday, the day before the book’s launch, found that only 26 per cent of people had a favorable opinion of Harry, down from 49 per cent in December – a record low for him. William’s popularity ratings also dipped, with 69 percent saying they had a favorable opinion of him, down from 77 percent last month.

Some experts on the monarchy say Harry’s book will undermine the institution, weakening it at home and abroad, undermining the “soft power” the House of Windsor wields, both in America and across the Commonwealth.

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

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

Whitelock added that “certainly, by raising questions about the toxic relationship between the press and the palace, the briefing of rival households, the treatment of ‘spare’ and the inherent misogyny and unconscious bias within the institution, Harry is challenging the monarchy to think and reform.” But whether it is, and whether the public demands it or not, remains to be seen.


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