Almost three years after quitting royal duties in the UK, Prince Harry is more visible than ever. Here’s all you need to know (and a bit more) about his new memoir, Spare.
Prince Harry is practically everywhere at the moment. In what has been great news for journalists, the allegedly privacy-desiring royal and his wife Meghan have dominated the traditionally quiet summer news cycle, matched in front page real estate only by New Zealand’s unpredictably wild weather. Harry’s name (and, on at least one occasion, brief details about his genitalia) could be found scrolling along news banners, cropping up in newspapers and appearing on TV ads worldwide. And, very shortly, the rebellious royal will be popping up in bookstores as well. That’s because the prince’s parade of publicity has all formed part of a PR masterclass timed for the release of his bombshell memoir Spare.
Here’s all you need to know (and a touch more) about Prince Harry’s global campaign to get you to read his book.
OK, firstly: what do we know about the book?
It’s called Spare, referencing Harry’s animosity at being the “spare” in the royal family. King Charles was said to be pleased after his two sons were born, allegedly commenting that his former wife Diana had produced both “an heir [William] and a spare”.
The memoir has been in the pipeline for a while and follows on from Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary that dropped late last year. However, while the documentary turned out to be fairly light on scandal, it’s anticipated that Spare could do irreparable damage to the royal family and its brand.
When can I read it?
From Wednesday. Spare will hit book shops in New Zealand on January 11 and almost certainly become an instant bestseller.
So if it’s out this week, why am I hearing so much about it already?
Harry’s micromanaged release plan for Spare was thrown into turmoil last week after copies of the memoir mistakenly showed up in some Spanish retailers. From there, leaks of the manuscript made their way into the hands of British royal reporters.
While there would likely have been some disappointment from the book’s publisher over the leak, it’s helped bolster interest in the book overall. The likes of the BBC have been furiously translating Spare from Spanish into English (even choosing to live blog their discoveries).
The Spinoff has dutifully chosen to abide by the memoir’s embargo and leave our Spanish dictionary untouched.
But what’s the goss?
Spare goes into candid detail about elements of the prince’s life previously unreported. Some of those details seem overdue, such as poignant behind the scenes reflections on the day Princess Diana died. He describes, for example, his inability to cry in public and his difficulty being in the media spotlight as a child. More shockingly, Harry claims that his father Charles did not hug him on the day of Diana’s death.
Other details in the memoir seem less pertinent, such as the revelation that Harry had a frostbitten penis on the day of his brother William’s wedding (specifically, Harry described his “todger” – revealed, too, to be circumcised – as suffering from the condition).
The royal also went into penis-adjacent detail about losing his virginity at 17 to an older woman in a field behind a pub. The experience, said Harry, was “humiliating” – and the woman treated him “like a young stallion”.
Is that everything?
Absolutely not. Widely reported is the claim that William physically attacked Harry in a spat that started over Meghan. William is said to have labelled Meghan “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”, later lashing out at Harry and knocking him to the floor (breaking a dog bowl in the process).
Spare also details Harry’s drug use while at university, the backstory of his controversial Nazi fancy dress costume, and goes into previously unreported detail regarding his frosty relationship with stepmother Camilla, who is now Queen Consort.
The prince was also widely condemned for revealing he was responsible for the deaths of 25 Taliban fighters while in Afghanistan. Harry said that it’s not a number that he feels proud of, but equally he’s not ashamed. “When I found myself plunged in the heat and confusion of combat I didn’t think of those 25 as people. They were chess pieces removed from the board, bad people eliminated before they could kill good people,” he wrote in a leaked extract from Spare.
And you’re saying he’s still a prince? Even after this?
Yup, his title remains Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. At least for now.
Has he said anything about New Zealand?
Not so far, but there is precedent.
Is Harry giving any interviews about his book? And how might I hear those?
It seems likely that Harry and the ongoing conflict with his family will be sticking in the headlines for a while. This is probably the most dramatic royal spat since the death of Diana, or at least since Charles and Camilla’s marriage – and that means the tabloids will continue to lap it up for as long as possible.
As part of the publicity push for the book (Harry is reading the audiobook version if that tickles your fancy), Harry is giving a limited number of media interviews. Here in New Zealand, the two highest profile of these will be airing at almost the exact same time tonight on TVNZ1 and Three. “Three and ThreeNow will be the FIRST New Zealand broadcaster to screen the highly anticipated Prince Harry interview with renowned US talk show host Anderson Cooper, in an exclusive and fast tracked premiere,” said Warner Bros. Discovery this week in a statement proudly proclaiming the 7pm time slot. Just 30 minutes later, at 7.30pm, TVNZ1 will air another interview with Harry, this time with British journalist Tom Bradby of ITV.
It seems the tabloid rounds have only just begun.