Harrys explosive memoir will trample on people – but stay loving to Queen Elizabeth

Prince Harry’s eagerly anticipated autobiography has finally been given a publication date – and it promises to be a “raw” read.

The Duke of Sussex’s memoir, Spare, comes out on January 10 next year and his publisher Penguin Random House describes it as full of “insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief”.

The title bluntly alludes to the fact that Harry was the “spare” to his brother Prince William, the heir, and his story will, it’s promised, be told with “unflinching honesty” and will be “an honest and captivating personal portrait”.

But the words “raw” and “unflinching honesty” are likely to strike fear into the heart of the monarchy – particularly his father, King Charles.

Just 24 hours after the release date of Harry’s book was confirmed, the King appeared to fire a retaliatory shot by announcing he is taking on the role of Captain General of the Royal Marines – a cherished position that was stripped from Harry after he and his wife Meghan Markle, 41, stepped down as senior royals.

Royal author Tom Bower thinks there’s no doubt the King will be feeling anxious about the book. “I think Charles will be fearful,” he said. “If the book does contain the criticisms I fear it will, it could be damaging for Charles. It’ll challenge him in a way that will be very, very difficult in his coronation year. ‘How much worse can it get?’ he must think."

Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond also believes Spare will make difficult reading – not only for Charles but the entire family. “I’m afraid people are going to get trampled on by this book,” she said. “‘Raw’ and ‘unflinching’ aren’t words the palace will be happy to hear.

"And the word ‘spare’ is redolent of accusation – that he has felt sidelined and marginalised, and a victim of his birth. It’s very sad he should feel that.”

Tom agrees the provocative title spells out just how disgruntled Harry feels about his status within the royal family – and, in his opinion, has for many years.

“The title sets the tone. You don’t call your book Spare if you don’t want to provoke a reaction,” he said. “I think [he’s implying] he was cast off, pushed aside, made to feel irrelevant and unwanted.”

Jennie added, “I found the title quite startling and the cover is stark. ‘Spare’ is like saying, ‘William got everything, he gets to be king.’ But I’m sure Harry didn’t actually want to be king. Being monarch is quite a poisoned chalice.”

Even the cover image – a close-up of Harry’s determined-looking, unsmiling face – is telling, according to Tom. “He’d like to be the man who’s a picture of intent and defiance. But really, I think he’s a troubled man,” he said.

Harry, 38, has since said said, “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become. I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story – the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned – I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.

“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned over the course of my life and excited for people to read a first-hand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful.”

While it’s highly likely Harry will want to air many grievances in the book, Jennie hopes he’s found it in his heart to say something complimentary about his family.

“I do hope there could be positives,” she said. “I hope this is more about him and his struggle with grief and his joy at finding love, and I hope that it sends a positive message to other people who’ve had a trauma in their adolescence.

“I just hope it doesn’t hurt too many people in the telling thereof. We go back to the Queen’s words, ‘recollections may vary’. This is Harry’s side of the story – and there are always two sides to every story.

“I also hope it explains why he found it so hard to be the spare. He could have remained so incredibly relevant – I don’t believe he was ever really going to be ‘spare’. He was part of Charles’ absolute core group of royals.”

As to the book’s publication date, Tom believes that in itself is significant, as it marks almost three years to the day since the couple announced on 8 January 2020 that they would step down.

“It’s a very, very clever date,” he said. “You don’t choose the anniversary of Megxit unless the whole book is about justifying Megxit. I think they chose this date to make a point.”

Last week’s announcement came after months of delays, rumours and fevered speculation about the book’s content, following Harry’s earlier promise to give “a first-hand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful”.

Originally due out in October, it was put on hold following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September, with Harry reportedly scrambling to make changes.

But Tom claims any hopes that Spare has been toned down after Her Majesty’s passing are likely to be unfounded.

“I think [Meghan] will make sure all her issues that she vented to Oprah [Winfrey] will be repeated within the book. I think they feel bruised about their treatment, both during the Jubilee and the funeral, and in my opinion there are no signs of reconciliation.”

He continued, “The book will be their statement to the world about how right they were to leave, three years ago, justifying their behaviour and looking for a global reputation.”

With the King’s coronation due to take place just four months later on 6 May, Tom says any “explosive” revelations could hardly be coming at a worse time.

“If Harry and Meghan start the year by declaring war and there can’t be a truce in time for the coronation, I think it’ll be very difficult,” he said. “It’ll leave a bitter taste in everyone’s mouths and I think it’ll be hard to see Harry and Meghan at the coronation.”

And although Jennie is hopeful the gap between the book’s release and the King’s big day will allow “a little space for the dust to settle”, she admits the first few months of 2023 are unlikely to be plain sailing for the royal family.

“I can’t see that things are going to be very easy after January 10,” she said. “But perhaps once Harry’s got it all out there, maybe it could mark a starting point to try to fully repair their relationship. I don’t think Harry’s a vindictive man and I don’t think he would hurt his family unnecessarily or wilfully.

“But I think Harry wants closure and I think [members of the royal family] are going to be the collateral damage in his journey towards that closure.”

While the book has been billed very much as Harry’s story, Tom claims Meghan – with whom he shares children Archie, three, and Lilibet, one – has been a guiding force not just in its inception but also in what’s likely to be between its covers.

“Harry’s whole fate – and the whole fate of the royal family – has, in my opinion, been dictated by Meghan,” said Tom. “Meghan liberated Harry, there’s no doubt about it.

“Meghan gave Harry the key to a whole new life, which he’s found very enjoyable. And so, looking back, he thinks he had a raw deal and that William was always given preferential treatment because [Harry] wasn’t going to be the king. I think he resents everything. And I think that’s his problem.”

Tom thinks Harry and William had a typical brotherly relationship as children. However he feels cracks started to appear once William, 40, settled down into family life with wife Kate, also 40.

“I think he became resentful much later, when he saw that William was very happy with Kate and had a family,” he said. “And then when Meghan arrived and moved into his two-bedroom Nottingham Cottage and there, across the corridor, were Kate and William in 22 rooms, I think he suddenly responded with, ‘Why am I dealt such a lousy card?’ And I’m sure she stoked his irritation.”

As to how other members of the royal family will deal with any inflammatory allegations, Tom claims the Princess of Wales in particular will be able to weather any damaging revelations.

“I think Kate will be stoic about it,” he said. “She’s a woman who’s very self-controlled in public. I’m sure she expects the worst but I’m also sure Kate has rationalised all that. She is a remarkable woman and the royal family is very, very lucky to have brought her in.”

Jennie, however, thinks Kate – who shares children Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four, with William – will be particularly hurt if Harry takes a swipe at her, given their once-close friendship.

“It’ll be so sad if he criticises Catherine,” she said. “He once said she was the sister he never had, so it would be such a shame if he took issue with her. He, William and Kate were once like a happy threesome and really, really close.”

One royal who won’t be incurring Harry’s wrath is his late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Harry raced to be at her side on the day she died but sadly arrived just a few hours too late.

“I think he’ll be very loving towards his grandmother,” said Jennie. “She very much loved Harry and while I don’t know what the Queen would have felt about his book, I’m very sorry that in the last months of her life she was besieged by the turmoil surrounding Harry and Meghan, and all the worry that caused.

“I think any bile, if there is any, will be mostly directed at the system – the system in which Harry feels he was so trapped and in which he still believes his father and his brother are trapped.”

Of course, Harry isn’t the first royal to release a book that sent shockwaves through The Firm. His mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, stunned the royal family when Andrew Morton’s biography, Diana: Her True Story – to which she contributed – was published in 1992.

Thirty years on, Harry is following in her footsteps with his own tell-all tome. But despite the obvious parallels, Tom claims Diana would have taken a dim view of Harry’s book, given that her criticisms were always aimed squarely at Charles and not at the royal family as a whole.

“I think Diana would have been appalled – absolutely outraged,” said Tom. “She never criticised the Queen, she never criticised the monarchy. She was never disloyal to the royal family.”

Jennie, on the other hand, believes Diana wouldn’t have objected – and may even have been a cheerleader for Spare.

“She wouldn’t really be able to criticise, would she, as she pretty much did the same thing?” she said. “She told her own story, albeit covertly, so she couldn’t blame him. She’d probably cheer him on. She’d probably feel sad he’d felt the need to write the book and that, in a way, history has repeated itself.

“Like Harry, she was unhappy within the confines of the royal family – albeit for different reasons.”

While Spare will likely shake the foundations of the monarchy at a time when the King is trying to modernise it and secure its future, Jennie is hopeful that the more controversial aspects of the book will be tempered by warmth and a degree of affection.

“I’d hope a memoir by a son would include a loving reference to his father,” she said. “Harry used to say after Diana died that ‘Papa’ was there for him and William, and had to do the job of two people. They were once very close, so I hope there will be affection shown towards his father, brother and sister-in-law. Yes, I think there will also be criticism, but maybe couched in terms of the system being wrong and not necessarily the individuals.”

What’s more, Harry’s status as a mental health advocate could mean he is unlikely to want his words to inflict distress on others.

“It’s about compassion, kindness, treating people well and with understanding,” added Jennie. “He really needs to display that in the book and try not to hurt too many people.”

Harry has donated £1.3 million to Sentebale, an organisation he founded with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho in their mothers’ legacies, which supports vulnerable children and young people in Lesotho and Botswana affected by HIV/AIDS. He will also donate £300,000 to non-profit organisation WellChild, of which he has been the royal patron for 15 years.


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