Prince Harry’s Book ‘Spare’ Goes On Sale, Detailing Deep Royal Rift
LONDON – Prince Harry’s memoirs, officially published on Tuesday, highlight the extent of the family split at the House of Windsor, in an account that royal commentators say could do permanent damage to both the prince and the wider royal establishment. famous in the world.
The book, titled The Reservation, inadvertently went on sale in Spain last week, ahead of its official launch date. Since then, much of the British press has already published key details of how King Charles’s young son fell out of love with royal life, as well as allegations of dysfunction at the heart of the institution often referred to as “The Firm”. ”
“The past is never dead. It’s not even the past,” reads a William Faulkner quote inside the opening page of the ghostwritten book. The first-person account claims that the Windsors and their separate families use the press against each other to further their own ends. Prince Harry writes that as he tried to process his mother’s death, he had to do so under the glare of the paparazzi. That glare intensified when he married his American actress wife, Meghan Markle, who the prince claims his family failed to protect publicly even as the tabloids attacked him.
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“I love my motherland and I love my family, and I always will,” writes Prince Harry. “I wish that, in the second darkest moment of my life, they were both there for me,” the prince wrote of the moment he announced he would be stepping down from royal duties.
Buckingham Palace has refused to respond to the book’s claims and has not commented on it, preferring what some royal aides call “a dignified silence”.
Several bookshops across London extended their opening hours on Tuesday, expecting a rush of customers for the memoirs. Book retailers including Waterstones and Amazon were advertising the book online at half the recommended retail price of 28 British pounds, equivalent to $34. The book is already number one on Amazon’s UK pre-order list. Waterstones said the memoir was its biggest pre-order title for a decade.
For many royal commentators, the book’s contents expose a royal rift, the extent of which was last witnessed when Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles collapsed in the early 1990s.
Prince Harry and his wife stepped down from royal duties in early 2020, citing aggressive press interference. They have since settled in California, but have repeatedly criticized Buckingham Palace for allegedly leaking stories about them to the press and not allowing them to continue as members of the royal family abroad.
“Will they make peace? I doubt it,” says Robert Jobson, a biographer of several members of the royal family.
On a cold, wet January morning, enthusiasm for the book among some British buyers was a little damp. British Broadcasting Corp. sent a reporter to wait outside a major bookstore in London’s Piccadilly as it opened at 6am to find only one person queuing to buy the title. Smaller independent booksellers pointed to the high price of the book as a problem. Bert’s Books in Swindon, southern England, put “Spare” in its window alongside another title called “How to Kill Your Family”.
“If it’s ever going to sell, it’s going to sell in the next couple of days,” said Bert’s Books founder Alex Call. Mr Call said he had some pre-orders for the book but had to buy a box of 12 from the publisher, adding that he was likely to have some back-up. “There was no rush for us,” he said.
Other independent booksellers agreed. “I feel like there’s a lot more attention to it in the media than to the average person,” said Fleur Sinclair, owner of Sevenoaks Bookshop, an independent bookstore about 20 miles south of London. Ms Sinclair said some copies of the book had already been sold, but most of her customers were not the sort of people who were too interested in tales of royal infighting, especially, she said, when many of the most strange had already appeared in the press. “There are so many things going on in the world that really matter” in comparison, she said.
The unraveling of royal life has hurt both Prince Harry and the popularity of the UK monarchy, according to polls, as it has punctured the mystique surrounding the institution.
A YouGov poll last week showed that 26% of people in Britain have a positive opinion of Prince Harry, down seven points from December and a record low. The book also appears to have damaged the standing of his older brother and heir to the throne, Prince William, whose popularity fell from 77% to 69% last week, according to YouGov. Overall, most Britons support the royal family, but this support has now fallen to 54% from 68% in September last year, shortly after Queen Elizabeth II died.
The book has benefited from a publicity campaign rarely seen in the publishing industry. Penguin Random House pledged very tight security ahead of launch, but copies appeared on shelves in Spain last week. The hastily translated extracts have fueled tabloid headlines in Britain and abroad for days. Penguin did not respond to requests for comment on the book’s inadvertent launch.
Prince Harry sat down for pre-recorded interviews with several broadcast television channels over the past few days, in which he further revealed his reasons for writing the tell-all book.
Prince Harry attended Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September, the last time he saw his family in person. Photo: TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
The prince has argued that he needed to give his version of his life and that a book was the best way to do that. Recently, the couple has made a series on Netflix about their lives.
“The ghostwriter has written a page-turner and it’s a first-person piece, so there will be currency,” says Mr. Jobson.
The book is sparing with King Charles but paints a harsher picture of his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, who Prince Harry accuses of feeding stories about him and his wife Meghan to the media. Prince Harry and his brother, William, asked their father not to marry Camilla, the prince said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
Prince William is portrayed in the book as a hothead. The book claims, among other things, that Harry was pushed to the floor by Prince William during an argument.
Other details include that Prince Harry killed 25 people during his tours of duty in Afghanistan and experimented with cocaine as a teenager. The memoir also includes a passage detailing how the young prince lost his virginity to an old woman in a field outside a pub. There’s also a first-person glimpse into the acrimonious negotiations surrounding “Megxi”, or the couple’s decision to leave the UK.
“They had a knack for backstabbing, a talent for intrigue and constantly pitted our two sets of staff against each other,” Prince Harry wrote of the royal advisers who served him and his brother.
The royal family has weathered a number of storms in the recent past. Last year, Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son, was embroiled in protracted legal action over allegations he sexually abused a woman in the early 2000s. The allegations, which were denied by Prince Andrew, were settled out of court. Queen Elizabeth stripped him of his military affiliations and patronage in the middle of the case.
The coronation of King Charles in May is the next time set for a family reunion. In an interview with British broadcaster ITV, Prince Harry declined to say whether he would attend. “The ball is in their court,” he said.
Write Max Colchester at [email protected] and David Luhnow at [email protected]
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