Spare was a revelation to me. All of the little snippets taken out of the book and posted, mostly out of context, by the media, looked very different inside the actual book, which was extremely well written by the ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer. I listened to the audiobook, which was read by Prince Harry, who did a wonderful job. It absolutely lays open Prince Harry’s life, good and bad, for all to see. The main message of this book is how the paparazzi have irrevocably changed, invaded, and tried to ruin a young man’s life, all to make money for themselves. And they do it unflinchingly over and over. When the book came out, the snippets posted and spun by the media led to a lot of people saying they would never read the book. That was what the media wanted, for this book is a complete condemnation of them, and it reveals their nature and true practices. Their efforts seem to have failed, as this book sold 3.2 million copies worldwide in its first week.
It was also really brought home to me how the royal family is a corporation first, and family comes a distant second. I learned how the royals are treated by the paparazzi, and how the courtiers work with the media and the “paps,” as Prince Harry calls them, to create stories out of thin air. I learned that different offices within the palace would sacrifice other family members to make their chosen royal look better, especially Charles and Camilla’s office. Diana used to say that Charles was outraged by her popularity and Harry says it again here. Charles and Camilla cannot bear for anyone to be more popular than they are, and their courtiers will make sure of it. Hearing this, It is easy for me to believe that Camilla is still behind the scenes pulling strings, because that’s what she did to Diana all those years ago. Diana famously said there were three people in her marriage, which Camilla had invaded and controlled before it even began.
The most heartbreaking scene in this book is when Harry asked for the police investigation photos of his mother’s death and was going through them. Here are his words below.
“At last I came to the photos of Mummy. There were lights around her, auras, almost halos. How strange. The color of the lights was the same color as her hair—golden. I didn’t know what the lights were, I couldn’t imagine, although I came up with all sorts of supernatural explanations. As I realized their true origin, my stomach clenched. Flashes. They were flashes. And within some of the flashes were ghostly visages, and half visages, paps and reflected paps and refracted paps on all the smooth metal surfaces and glass windscreens. Those men who’d chased her… they’d never stopped shooting her while she lay between the seats, unconscious, or semi-conscious, and in their frenzy they’d sometimes photographed each other. Not one of them was checking on her, offering her help, not even comforting her. They were just shooting, shooting, shooting.”
Harry shares his disgust that in the official investigation, the accident was blamed solely on the deceased driver, who it was reported had been drinking, and not at all on the paparazzi chasing Diana.
I really appreciated the honesty in this book. Harry doesn’t flinch from revealing that he has used drugs and talks about all of the famous, negative stories about him. He refutes a lot of the stories, positive, and negative, that the media has simply made up out of thin air. He admits to the ones that are true. He apologizes for the things he did wrong.
He talks a lot about his military service and how proud he is of his country. He praises the people he served with. The media simply says of all of his military service that he spoke about killing 25 Taliban. While he does discuss this, it is in a professional way over many chapters. The media crows that his words enraged the Taliban. It was really the media that did this with their reaction to this book, aimed at keeping people from reading it in my opinion. They completely reduced his military service to this headline, and it is an outrage. Readers will realize it at once when they read the many chapters he devotes to the military.
Another thing that is made evident is the control that the family has over all of its members. Charles controls the funds for both William and Harry, who had no money of his own except a sum left to him by his mother. Harry had to ask permission for even the smallest of things. He even had to ask the Queen permission to have a beard when he got married. The Queen granted his request, which became a problem between himself and William because William was made to shave his beard. Harry wasn’t allowed to choose any career he wanted. Some choices were vetoed by his father. The freedom he felt when he finally broke away must have been amazing.
The picture that the media painted of two close brothers who were torn apart by Meghan Markle is another lie. William almost always kept a distance between them and Harry always longed for them to be closer. Combine that with an unsupportive father and a mother who died too young, and that led to loneliness and mental health issues. Harry is candid about his mental health issues, how he sought out therapy, and how his memories of his mother were locked away for a long time. He talked about Meghan’s suicidal thoughts and how his family never stood up for them.
This is an eye-opening look at what it’s really like to be a royal. I encourage everyone to read it and highly recommend the audiobook version.
I read somewhere that Harry’s deal with Random House is for four books. If that is true, then I sincerely hope that one of them looks further into his mother’s death.
The opinions above are solely my own after listening to the audiobook, which I purchased on Audible.
You must be logged in to post a comment.