SPARE … should you read Prince Harry’s memoir?

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Whether you fall into the love-them or cannot-bear-them camp, there’s no getting around the fact that Prince Harry’s Spare is the book of the moment.

The highly-controversial memoir – covering Prince Harry’s early years, followed by his decade of military service and ending with his relationship and life with Meghan – sold more than 3.2 million copies within the first week of release, and locally it’s currently sitting second on the Exclusive Books Top Twenty list.

Harry kicks off Spare sitting, a few hours after his grandfather’s funeral, on a small wooden bench in the gardens of Frogmore … ‘once upon a time, this was going to be my forever home’. He was waiting for his father and brother, who arrived – late. “Then at last, I saw them. Shoulder to shoulder, striding towards me, they looked grim, almost menacing.” Harry was there to see if there was a way to heal the rupture, the very public war, between the Windsors. But when they arrived, looking tightly aligned, he thought ‘Hang on, are we meeting for a walk … or a duel?’. He says he was nervous, fighting to keep his emotions in check, while Pa and Willy – with ‘his familiar scowl, which had always been his default in dealings with me’ – had come ready for a fight. The two, claims Harry, told him they didn’t know the reason why he’d left, which left him staggered. How could they not know why he’d fled  ‘the land of my birth – the land for which I’d fought and been ready to die – my Mother Country?” Dramatic yet? That, he claims, made him feel colder, terribly alone, but fired up. Thinking he simply had to tell them his side of the story, but not then, rather when they were in a better frame to listen. And so… ‘Pa? Willy? World? Here we go’ ends the forward … and my gosh does he go!

Being the spare is up front and centre right from the beginning … with the fact that he had a smaller, far less luxurious half of the nursery than Will’s, who has a double bed, a good size basin and a beautiful window looking down on the courtyard. An odd memory to publish in the paragraph before the one where he says he took no offence to being the spare … saying ‘Who could bother being bothered by a fate etched in stone?’.

Harry’s Spare, ghostwritten by J. R. Moehringer, is full of titbits royalists will love – the massive front doors of Balmoral propped open by a curling stone, and often manned by a red-coated footman, the utility room with its hooks for fishing rods and walking sticks and rubber waders and waterproofs, the cream wallpaper with raised gold flock, the crimson saloon doors and green tartan floor behind which sits Granny’s lift. And then there are all the secrets that really could have been kept behind closed doors. The losing of his virginity in a field behind a pub to an older woman, who treated him ‘not unlike a young stallion. Quick ride, after which she’d smacked my rump and sent me off to graze’. His frost-nipped ‘todger’. His 25 kills. And then there are the drugs and the arguments over Camilla … and that flowergirl dress tiff between Meghan and Kate … can we let that go already!

We’re leaning heavily towards the this-is-for-the-love-them camp … however if it’s going to be the book of the year, and it certainly looks that way, then you may as well read so you can join in the dinner-party convo.

Bantam, R559 from Exclusive Books.

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