Look, I read books about concepts, history, dead people or fictional people. I do not tend to read memoirs by real world figures. And reviewing them? This is about actual people. Their faces stare back at me from newspapers and websites. These are names that I, a British person, know. Reviewing this book (or recounting it, as I like to say) is not quite the same as reviewing a work of fiction. (Though some, evidently, believe it to be precisely that.)
But, oh well, it’s 2023. So why not? For two days, Prince Harry’s face has been staring at me from the front cover of his brand new book ‘Spare’. It’s a bit disconcerting, if I’m honest.
Think of the whole book as a therapy session, but one in which the building is burned after the session is over.
No. Stop there. View it as Prince Harry’s vindication. He’s been holding all those receipts in one hand, and all the salacious press clippings in the other. And he wants to tell the world what actually happened. His story. His words.
My problem has never been with the monarchy, or the concept of monarchy. It’s been with the press and the sick relationship that’s evolved between it and the Palace.prince harry
If you’re wanting to have a concise and eloquent review, please go elsewhere. This is about biros and headstands. If you want a review lambasting and vilifying the Royal Family, please click off. And, if you want a review doing the same to Prince Harry, this isn’t that.
Now that’s out of the way.
This book is wild. There’s just so … so much.
The publishers asked Harry – ‘Harry, how much detail did you want to go into?’ and Harry stood up and said: ‘yes. Even my frostnipped nethers.’
And we, the people, said: ‘oh no’ and read on.
We found out that the King used to do headstands, for example. That’s new. I can’t do them, myself. But I’m trying. Kudos to him. He probably shouldn’t be doing them now though.
There was the deer blooding moment which felt very normal. (It reminded me of Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I did not expect to be reminded of that. Not on my bingo card. If I’d had one. Which I didn’t.)
There was the Ali-G reference. (AN ALI-G REFERENCE. IN THIS BOOK. I CAN’T.) The two mentions of Stewie from Family Guy.
Princess Margaret gave Harry a biro once, and this was a symbol of her not quite caring and being cold-blooded. ‘Oh. A biro. Wow’ occurs more than once in the book. I’m fond of a good biro myself. However, in the book it was a symbolic reference. I underlined it every time it came up because I thought it was funny. And this is why I should never talk about real life books written by real life people about their very real lives on this blog. I feel mean.
(Unlike the tabloid writers, it appears.)
Look, you get the impression that Harry remembers every single word of bad press about him (and the people who wrote said bad press. They do not escape unscathed. Au contraire, they are very scathed.) and this book sets the record straight. And why not, after all?
However, in the midst of setting the record straight, he also discuses his brother, sister-in-law, father, step-mother, and grandmother. Known to me and you (the plebs!) as Prince William, Princess Catherine, King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla, and the Late Queen herself. There’s a level of detail about the Royal Family that is unsurpassed. I’m not so certain that a reconciliation would be easy after this.
The Royal Family has always had this air of mystique about it. The veil has been torn asunder, and the smoke of secrecy has been blown away. And we are left with something.
An avocado. Thannnnkkss.
One vital part of being human is to be able to relate to other fellow humans. To sympathise with them. And Harry’s grief, his anger at the press, his loneliness, his concern for the treatment of his wife … these are all deeply understandable.
However, I kept on reading and the descriptions of nipping over to Botswana, parties, Palaces, hiding out with Elton John, going on shooting trips, even Eton – oh my gosh, Eton, what a place! A place that exists! But WHY does it exist? – really made me think.
You know, sometimes you do get a bit concerned about the upper class. One wonders how they are doing. Just fine, it seems. (Well …) In a different realm of existence, evidently.
Regarding the writing – I think the ghostwriter, JR Moehringer, did an excellent job and the voice seems quite authentic. (Though sometimes I thought this was a novel and got quite confused. This is why I shouldn’t read memoirs.) I thought the epilogue was quite touching.
In conclusion, if you are wanting to wade into professing an opinion regarding this book – perhaps read it first. Don’t we owe it to him? The press has made mint off this man, and this man’s family, why not give him – at the very least – a hearing?
However, I have to admit – I’m a little weary of it all. Britain? You’ve got so many other worries right now you absolute muppets. We need to deal with them. And the British Press? You need a better hobby. And some ethics.