Spare cover

Spare - Book Summary

A Tell-All Memoir of the British Royal Family and the Institution

Duration: 19:51
Release Date: October 6, 2023
Book Author: Prince Harry
Category: Biography & Memoir
Duration: 19:51
Release Date: October 6, 2023
Book Author: Prince Harry
Category: Biography & Memoir

In this episode of "20 Minute Books", we journey through the royal corridors of Britain with our book, "Spare", a memoir of monumental revelations penned by Prince Harry himself. A figure constantly under the ruthless glare of media and the expectations of an ancient monarchy, Prince Harry takes us behind the gilded doors, sharing an intimate reflection on his journey of being 'the spare' to the heir.

"Spare" is a stirring exploration of his life growing up under the scrutinizing eyes of the world. From his struggles dealing with his beloved mother's death, to his complicated dynamics with royal family members, and his challenging encounters with the invasive press, this book reveals a side of royalty we seldom see.

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, transcends his royal identity in "Spare", presenting himself as a man navigating the difficult paths of life, just like the rest of us. From his service in the British Army to his role as a patron of numerous charitable organizations, he has emerged as a figure of empathy and resilience, challenging royal stereotypes.

Now residing in sunny California, Prince Harry, along with his wife, Meghan Markle, continues to champion philanthropic causes through their non-profit organization, Archewell. His candid reflections in "Spare" offer an intriguing perspective into the complex world of royalty, spotlighting his endeavors to maintain his individuality amid the weight of the crown.

"Spare" makes for a fascinating read for those who hold an interest in the British Royal Family. It also invites readers who hold mixed feelings about the monarchy, providing them a chance to hear Harry's side of the story, unfiltered and unabridged. So, join us as we dive into the stirring narrative of "Spare", unraveling the royal narrative as never before.

Unlock the unseen: Deep dive into the life of Prince Harry

Everywhere you look, there's a story about the British Royals. The tragic death of Princess Diana, ongoing royal scandals, or the life of Meghan Markle, headlines are abound. Whether you are particularly interested in royal affairs or not, fragments of their lives find their way to you — they are omnipresent, unmistakable.

You might have formed an image of Prince Harry in your mind. Maybe it's of a man who lost his mother too early under severely tragic and public circumstances, or perhaps it's of a man who once thought it was a good idea to dress up as a Nazi for a party. You might even think of him as the rebel who dared to distance himself from the royal family, or as a man who betrayed his own blood.

Regardless of your current perspective on Prince Harry, prepare to have it re-evaluated as we delve into his life — a story told from his perspective, not that of the tabloids.

While it's not possible to dissect the intricate web of the royal relationships, or deep dive into every scandal that has shaken the monarchy, we will zero in on some pivotal relationships and crucial moments in Harry's life. You’ll gain insights into the reality of royal existence and understand why Harry opted for a drastic move — a royal resignation and migration across the Atlantic.

Before we embark on this journey, you might be wondering about the choice of the title — 'Spare.' Well, the title itself offers a peek into the life and times of Prince Harry. Prepare for an eye-opening narrative that paints a more vivid, nuanced picture of the lesser-known royal.

Navigating the complex role of 'the Spare' in a royal world

From the day he was born, Prince Harry has been labeled as 'the Spare.' Supposedly, upon his birth, Prince Charles jestingly told Diana, “Excellent! Now we have an Heir and a Spare.”

In this royal context, William, being the eldest, was poised to inherit the throne, while Harry, the younger one, was deemed 'the Spare,' the second fiddle, the backup. While this categorization might have been initially mentioned in a lighter vein, it gradually became evident that his family often perceived him in this light.

Aware of his 'Spare' designation since his childhood, Harry was cognizant that the line of succession allowed his father and brother, the first and second in line to the throne, to never travel together on the same flight, preventing a potential succession crisis. However, there were no such rules for Harry — 'the Spare' could be risked.

Harry claims he never held a grudge about being the 'Spare.' He was well aware of his role in the family. However, now as an adult, reflecting back on his formative years and personal identity, he realizes how extraordinarily peculiar his life has been.

Take his relationship with his father, for instance. Prince Charles was more than just his father — he was his employer, his financial overseer. Their relationship was far from an average father-son relationship.

Indeed, Harry cherishes warm moments with his father from his childhood. He fondly remembers how his father would comfort him at bedtime when he feared the dark, sitting next to him, lightly stroking his face until he fell asleep. Charles would affectionately refer to Harry as his “precious boy.”

However, these loving instances were sporadic. Harry's dominant memory of his father is of a distant parent who struggled with expressiveness. Charles preferred conveying his love and pride for Harry through handwritten letters left on his pillow rather than articulating them face-to-face.

Physical affection was scarce. Charles, like his mother Queen Elizabeth, was not prone to hugging. Apparently, the Queen once dodged a hug from Diana, leading to an awkward encounter!

However, Harry's challenges extended beyond just a lack of affection. His royal status continually disrupted his attempts to lead a typical life. An armed bodyguard would accompany him to school and even wait outside the pub when he turned a teenager.

Striving for a normal life in the midst of perpetual security escort is challenging, to say the least. Public transportation is practically unthinkable, although Harry did manage a single Tube ride during a school trip.

As an adult, Harry did seize some rare moments of independence, like shopping at the supermarket. Yet, these outings were planned with military-like precision. He would visit in a disguise at varied times of the day to dodge the press, had memorized the supermarket layout to expedite his shopping, and minimize the possibility of any unwanted encounters.

Throughout his life, Harry battled with a consistent lack of freedom and privacy — a source of constant stress and vexation. However, nothing has profoundly impacted Harry as much as the tragic incident that unfolded one fateful night in August 1997.

Coming to terms with Diana's loss: A long and painful journey for Prince Harry

At the tender age of 12, Harry experienced a traumatic loss that would profoundly shape his life. Roused from his sleep in the middle of the night, his father gently broke the news, “Darling boy, Mummy was in a car crash.” What followed was a chilling realization for Harry — Diana, his beloved mother, was gone. Amidst the devastating news, Harry recalls his father's knee pat and the hollow assurance that everything would be okay.

Strangely, Harry couldn't shed a tear that night. He felt a sense of guilt when, at the funeral, countless weeping strangers extended their hands to him — people who hadn't known Diana personally but were moved to tears, while he couldn't. When he eventually did cry, as Diana's coffin descended, he felt a profound sense of embarrassment. Tears and public display of grief were not quite in sync with the family ethos.

Part of Harry's initial emotional numbness stemmed from an unwillingness to accept Diana's death. He nurtured the belief that his mother was hiding somewhere or pretending to be dead.

For years, Harry continued to cling to the hope, “Maybe this is the day she'll reappear.”

As long as he lacked concrete proof of her death, he found solace in the illusion of her being alive.

As an adult, Harry decided to confront the truth. He requested his private secretary to access the confidential police records on Diana's accident.

For the first time, he saw the chilling photos of the mangled car in the Paris tunnel. He recognized some pictures were taken by the police, while others were snapped by paparazzi. One particular photo of Diana, surrounded by bright lights resembling halos, struck him. Initially, he thought it was something supernatural, until the horrifying truth dawned on him — they were camera flashes from paparazzi who had followed Diana into the tunnel, taking photos relentlessly, even as she lay dying.

Instead of providing closure, these images fueled Harry's rage and resentment towards the paparazzi for their insensitivity.

Harry's acceptance of his mother's death came when he was in his twenties. During his first visit to Paris, he requested his driver to take him through the tunnel where Diana's car had crashed.

After driving through the tunnel twice, the bitter truth finally sank in — his mother was indeed gone forever.

However, this acceptance didn't alleviate his pain. Instead, it marked the beginning of a new phase of agony. For years, Harry grappled with anxiety, panic attacks, and uncontrolled rage, wrestling with his deteriorating mental health.

It wasn't until he was in his thirties that Harry started to heal, with therapy playing a pivotal role. During one therapy session, he brought along a bottle of Diana's favorite perfume. As he took a deep breath, inhaling the scent, fond memories of Diana flooded back — her laughter resonating clear and loud in his mind. This time, the tears that welled up in his eyes were tears of joy.

Prince Harry's lifelong tussle with the press

Given the press's merciless hounding of his mother until her unfortunate demise, Harry's animosity towards the media is understandable.

This toxic relationship between Harry and the press started when he was barely a teenager. Although the media initially extended sympathy towards the bereaved 12-year-old boy, their compassion was short-lived. Soon enough, Harry found himself in their crosshairs.

Stories of Harry dabbling in drugs and engaging in academic malpractice started surfacing in the tabloids during his teen years. While these accusations were baseless, they managed to stick, further straining Harry's relationship with the press.

The press did sometimes hit the truth, like when they published photos of Harry donned in a Nazi uniform at a costume party. The widespread criticism and media scrutiny left Harry extremely regretful of his ill-advised choice. While his lapse in judgment was eventually forgiven and somewhat forgotten, the incident left an indelible mark on his public image.

The incessant scrutiny from the journalists and photographers was a constant strain on Harry's life. Recognizing some of the paparazzi, who shadowed his every move, became an infuriating norm. In his desperation to evade them, Harry started resorting to drastic measures like hiding in the trunk of his car when leaving clubs and pubs.

The relentless media glare and the barrage of stories often left Harry feeling trapped and suffocated. Despite his father's advice to ignore the papers, he found it hard to dismiss their constant intrusion.

Adding salt to the wound was an unsettling revelation about his teenage drug scandal that had made headlines. Harry was taken aback when he discovered that his father's spin doctor had leaked the unfounded story to the newspaper editor. It was a crude strategy to boost Charles's tarnished image by painting him as a single father dealing with his drug-abusing son. An unfavorable representation of "Charles as an unfaithful husband" took a backseat to "Charles struggling with his drug-abusing child," an angle that played well for Charles, if not for Harry.

In hindsight, this incident was a forewarning of the complexities and manipulations Harry would continue to encounter with the media.

Prince Harry's romantic partners caught in the crosshairs of the media

With the media hounding Prince Harry relentlessly, it was only natural that anyone he dated would also attract their invasive gaze. The constant surveillance proved too much for his girlfriends, including Chelsy, who discovered a tracker on her car, prompting her to voice her concerns about a future stalked by paparazzi. Their break-up was a consequence of this distressing reality.

Harry's other relationships suffered the same fate — the incessant media harassment was a price too steep to pay for his romantic partners. As someone who aspired to have a family, the situation was agonizing for Harry.

The intrusion escalated when he started dating American actress Meghan Markle in 2016.

The press launched into a spree of racist and snobbish narratives, labeling Meghan's family as "gangsters" and making disrespectful comments about her mixed-race heritage. Harry was appalled by the rampant racism, which surpassed his worst expectations.

The physical harassment paralleled the verbal onslaught. Meghan, her friends, and family were constantly stalked by the paparazzi. There were times when she was hounded on the icy roads of Ontario, leading to fearful phone calls to Harry about imminent crashes. These episodes reminded Harry of the tragic circumstances of his mother's death, adding to his angst.

The press didn't spare Meghan even after her marriage to Harry and her first pregnancy. Their incessant hounding caused her emotional turmoil, which was so intense that it pushed her to the edge of suicidal thoughts. Discovering Meghan in tears at their home one day, Harry tried his best to comfort her, promising a solution to their woes.

Yet, they had to continue adhering to royal duties. One instance saw them attending an event at the Royal Albert Hall. Despite the trauma, they arrived in time, stepping into the blinding flashbulb lights hand in hand. Once inside, under the dimmed lights, Meghan finally allowed herself to cry, surrounded yet alone amidst the pomp and ceremony.

Prince Harry grapples with the lack of familial support

Harry was determined to protect Meghan, promising her safety even amidst the media storm. When a newspaper overstepped their boundaries by publishing a personal letter written by Meghan, Harry saw an opportunity to finally take a stand. He decided to sue the press.

Interestingly, despite their own legal tussles with the media, his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, advised him against such action. They warned him of the potential repercussions on the royal family. However, their caution didn't deter Harry and Meghan from pressing charges.

In the fallout, Harry found himself summoned by his father who reprimanded him for tarnishing the family's reputation. In his defense, Harry argued that he had no option but to sue considering the family's lack of intervention. Harry and Meghan had pleaded for assistance during their ordeal with the hate-fuelled press and derogatory social media, but to no avail.

Adding to Harry's disillusionment were the suspicious instances of confidential information reaching the press. When the decision to step back from royal duties in 2020 was leaked before an official statement, Harry found traces of betrayal in his own family. A private correspondence shared only with his father and a select few was now public knowledge.

This toxic mix of relentless press harassment and unreliable familial support eventually led to Harry and Meghan's departure from the UK. However, the decision didn't come lightly. During the negotiation of their exit's terms, Harry strove for a compromise that would ensure their safety. He was met with resistance and calls for an 'all-or-nothing' approach. Nonetheless, they reached an agreement that allowed Harry and Meghan to retain their security temporarily.

In the wake of their decision to step back from royal duties, the press predictably erupted with outrage, labeling their actions as 'insults' and 'crimes.' Unfazed by the criticism, Harry stood by his decision, confirmed two years later as he settled into life in California with Meghan and their two children.

While Harry's relationship with his family remains ambivalent, his love for them persists. His only wish was for their support during one of his life's darkest periods — a wish that, unfortunately, was left unfulfilled.

Concluding Thoughts

As Harry reflects on his journey, he can't help but discern a persistent pattern – the unrelenting torment of the press, intent on exploiting and inciting discord within the royal family.

It's regrettable that the circumstances led to Harry and Meghan's decision to escape the country.

But life hasn't been entirely bleak. Harry found solace in confronting the painful loss of his mother and experienced joy by falling in love and starting a family — elements of life that once seemed elusive to him.

While Harry may have been considered "the Spare" in the royal succession line, he emerged as the one who dared to liberate himself, charting his own path and embracing life on his own terms.

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