From the opening quote of William Faulkner’s book, to Prince Harry’s passionate bond with his wife Meghan, you could almost call the Duke of Sussex’s memoir “The Americanization of Prince Harry.”
Grieving child, troubled teen, wartime soldier, unhappy royal – many facets of Prince Harry are revealed in his explosive memoirs, often in stunning detail. Everywhere is Harry’s desire to be a different kind of prince, the kind that talks about his feelings, eats fast food and doesn’t hide behind a prim facade.
Like an American.
From accounts of cocaine use and losing his virginity to stark family breakups, “Spare” exposes deeply personal details about Harry and the royal family as a whole. Even Americans can cringe when he confesses that a trip to the North Pole left him with frozen genitalia that proved most irritating during his brother’s wedding to Kate.
The book begins with a famous quote from Faulkner, a bard from the American South: “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.”
Harry’s history is dominated by his rivalry with older brother, Prince William, and the death of the boys’ mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. Harry, who was 12 at the time, has never forgiven his parents. media for Diana’s death in a car accident while being chased by photographers.
The loss of his mother haunts the book, which Harry dedicates to Meghan, children Archie and Lili “and, of course, my mother.”
ROYAL FAMILY – ROYAL SHIPPING
The opening chapter tells how his father, Prince Charles, now King Charles III, broke the news of his mother’s accident, but did not give his son a hug.
Harry reveals that years later he asked his driver to take him through the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, site of the fatal accident, hoping in vain that it would help end a “decade of unrelenting pain”. He also says that he once consulted a woman who claimed to have “powers” and to be able to transmit messages from Diana.
Harry adds that he and William “begged” their father not to marry his longtime lover Camilla Parker-Bowles, worried that she would become an “evil stepmother”.
Harry is also tormented by his status as the royal “spare” behind William, who is the heir to the British throne. Harry recounts a longstanding sibling rivalry that worsened after Harry began a relationship with Meghan, the American actress whom he married in 2018.
She says that during an argument in 2019, William called Meghan “difficult” and “rude” (the kind of insults an upper-class Englishman might reserve for Americans), then grabbed him by the neck and tackled him. Harry sustained cuts and bruises landing in a dog bowl.
Harry says Charles implored the brothers to reconcile, saying after Prince Philip’s funeral in 2021: “Please, boys, don’t make my later years a misery.”
Neither Buckingham Palace, which represents King Charles III, nor William’s Kensington Palace office have commented on any of the allegations.
ADMIRATION FOR GRANDPARENTS
Harry writes with admiration and some affection about Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. He remembers Phillip’s “many passions: carriage driving, barbecuing, shooting, eating beer” and most of all, how he “embraced life” just like his mother. “Maybe that’s why he was such a fan” of Princess Diana, Harry recalls.
Meanwhile, he acknowledges that his grandmother bullied him at times, if only because she was the Queen. She’s no more helpful than anyone in containing media leaks, but she’s often seen as sympathetic to her wishes, never more than when she approved of her marriage to Meghan.
Harry also sees her as attractive, even funny, beyond her proper demeanor. Reflecting on her death last year, he remembers whispering jokes in her ear or convincing her to participate in a widely viewed promotional video for the Invictus Games, in which she bests the Obamas in a training contest.
“She was a natural comedian,” he writes, calling her “wicked sense of humor” a treasured trust between the two. “In every photo of us, every time we exchanged a glance, making solid eye contact, it’s clear. We had secrets.”
WILD TEENAGE YEARS
Memoirs suggest that Harry’s partying media image during his teens and youth was well deserved.
Harry describes how he lost his virginity at 17, in a field behind a pub with an older woman who loved horses and treated the teenage prince like a “young stud”. It was, he says, an “inglorious episode.”
He also says that he took cocaine several times starting at the same age, to “feel different”. He also admits to using cannabis and magic mushrooms, causing him to hallucinate that a toilet was talking to him.
Harry offers extensive memories of his decade in the British Army, serving twice in Afghanistan. He says that on his second tour, as co-pilot and gunner of an Apache helicopter in 2012-2013, he killed 25 Taliban militants. Harry says that he felt neither satisfaction nor shame in his actions, and in the heat of battle regarded enemy combatants as pieces being removed from a chessboard, “the bad guys removed before they could kill the others.” good ones”.
Veterans criticized the comments, saying they could increase the security risk for Harry. Retired Colonel Richard Kemp said it was “a misjudgment” and that viewing enemy combatants as chess pieces “is not the way the British Army trains people”.
“I think that kind of comment that does not reflect reality is misleading and potentially valuable to people who want to see the British forces and the British government come to harm,” he told the BBC.
The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021, and Harry’s words have sparked protests across the country. Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi called the Western invasion of Afghanistan “hateful” and said Harry’s comments “are a microcosm of the trauma experienced by Afghans at the hands of the occupying forces who killed innocent without accountability”.
A REGULAR GUY
Yes, he’s a Prince, but he doesn’t hesitate to stop by for burgers and fries at an In-N-Out, or buy clothes at a chain store. He is also a “Friends” binge watcher and associates more with prankster Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry. And because he’s a prince, he got to meet another “Friends” star, Courteney Cox, and enjoy psychedelic chocolate mushrooms at her Los Angeles home.
THE TRUE VILLAIN
Harry shares painful words about his father and brother, but his real anger is directed at the British media and those within the royal circle who cooperated and stood by. While Charles remains seemingly indifferent to the press, the rest of the family is obsessed with media coverage, Harry writes, both he and any of them. He expresses his despair at what he calls the endless false stories about him, the racist caricatures of his wife, and the baffling knowledge of the press about his whereabouts and his private correspondence. “You have to have a relationship with the press,” the royal staff tells him.
Harry credits Meghan for changing the way he sees the world and himself. He says that he was “awash in isolation and privilege” and that he did not understand her unconscious biases before he met her.
The young prince wore a Nazi uniform to a costume party in 2005, and claims in the book that William and his now-wife Kate encouraged the choice of outfit and “howled” with laughter when they saw it. He was recorded using a racist term about a fellow soldier of Pakistani descent in 2006, but says he didn’t know the word was an insult and the soldier didn’t take offense.
Meghan and Harry cited the UK media’s treatment of the biracial American actor as one of the main reasons for their decision to step down from royal duties and move to the US in 2020.
The book gives no sign that the royal family’s relations will mend anytime soon. Harry told ITV in an interview to promote the book that he wants reconciliation, but first there must be “responsibility”.
In the final pages, Harry describes how he and William walked together during Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral procession in September, but barely spoke to each other.
“The next afternoon, Meg and I left for the United States,” he says.
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