Spares by Prince Harry: Book Review

In a “red haze” of grief and anger, the prince self-medicated first with candy and then, as hateful tabloids reported with varying degrees of accuracy, alcohol, weed, cocaine, mushrooms and ayahuasca. (On a lighter note, he’s trying magnesium supplements, and I’m not sure anyone needs to know that it loosened his bowels at a friend’s wedding.)

Along with sending Harry to Afghanistan — where, he notes, “you can’t kill people if you think of them as people” — he escapes repeatedly to Africa, whose lions seem less threatening than the journalistic predators at home. In one of the book’s scarier moments, he writes that Willie, who calls him Harold even though his real name is Henry, stomps his foot for choosing the continent as his cause. “It was Africa his Harry explained, mimicking his brother’s teasing tone. “I let you have veterans, why don’t you let me have African elephants and rhinos?”

To Cathy, he notes “Willy’s alarming baldness, more advanced than mine,” as he chides the Princess of Wales for being slowly shares her lip gloss. Frankly, it shows the then Prince Charles doing headstands in his boxers and his family’s charade for an annual performance review: the Court Circular.

Like its author, “Spare” is all over the map – emotionally as well as physically. In other words, he doesn’t hold it tight. Harry is candid and funny about his penis freezing off after a trip to the North Pole – “my South Pole was on the fritz” – leaving him a “eunuch” just before William married Kate Middleton. In a weird feat of projection, he gives the groom an ermine thong at the reception, then applies the Elizabeth Arden cream his mother used as lip gloss to his own nether regions — “‘weird’ doesn’t really do the feeling justice” — and worries that “my child will be on the front pages” before I find a discreet dermatologist.

Therapy, which he claims William refuses to participate in, and a whiff of First by Van Cleef & Arpels, help Harry learn to cry, unlocking a flood of repressed memories of Diana, and then even the most hardened reader can weep. Charles’ own fragrance, Dior’s Eau Sauvage, and his marriage to Camilla leave him relatively cold.

Yet when his father advises about the relentless and often racist press coverage of Harry’s marriage to Meghan – “Don’t read it, dear boy” – it’s hard not to agree. The prince claims to have a spotty memory — “a defense mechanism, most likely” — but he doesn’t seem to have forgotten a single line ever printed about him and his wife, and the last part of his narration degenerates into a tiresome back-and-forth about who what it emits and why. Perhaps a little more Faulkner and less Fleet Street would be helpful here?

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