I read Prince Harry’s memoir so you don’t have to


Photo by Katie Chin

In his memoir “Spare,” Prince Harry details his life as a prince in the British royal family.

Surya Saraf, Copy Editor

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, is crabby — he was never the heir to the British throne, always in the shadow of his older brother Prince William, always the “spare” to William’s “heir.” In his debut memoir “Spare,” a 400-page whinge filled with pitiful attempts at fancy figurative language and literary references, Harry details his life as a prince in the British royal family, until abdicating his position for good.

The memoir begins with Harry reminiscing about his childhood and the loss of his mother, Princess Diana of Wales, in a car accident while pursued by paparazzi. After a raw account of PTSD and desensitization to war, told through Harry’s service in the British Air Force in Afghanistan, he concludes the memoir ardently recounting his relationship with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their departure from the royal family.

While Harry complains about being the “spare” and depicts himself as brave and resilient as he traverses a public life, he leaves out the obvious concessions of his privilege. The memoir’s jumping from one luxurious trip to the next (Safaris in Africa, summers in Balmoral and Eton, royal tours), self-pitying and petulant yet still attempting to remain relatable, shows Harry’s refusal to acknowledge himself as advantaged in any way. In effect, the novel comes off as slightly whiny, a back and forth of Harry’s misfortunes as the “spare” and his altruism as a man of good faith. Not to mention, the bizarre anatomical descriptions of his privates only make the read less enjoyable. Though privileged and out of touch, the memoir provides some emotional insight into loss and living under the public eye.

Death, a major theme, follows Harry through adulthood. The memory of Diana, known tenderly as “mummy,” leaves him shattered as a grown man. Harry is still unable to reconcile his emotions, seeking an unrequited closure that Diana is truly gone. His life in the limelight only makes his mother’s death more traumatic, its causes open to speculation and crude opinions by journalists. Harry speaks to the public when he says that trauma is real, and one should be allowed to cope with it in peace.

Harry also calls attention to the wickedness of the press, and their desire to bring about his doom by milking the nitty-gritty, vulgar details of his life — after all, it was the distracting, bright clicks of their cameras that killed Diana. He perceptively describes his role as a “glove puppet,” a pawn to the media, who capitalize on his every life detail — from cheating on a test at school to struggling with drug use to a mere bad haircut — for entertainment. Children deserve to be children, he writes, and not pestered by the press for living their lives, a sincere reminder of the importance of a childhood.

The ounce of relatability in the memoir comes from the fact that Harry is very honest, raw and unafraid to reveal his flaws. He is open about his anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD from his military service and details his therapy journey to relieve the trauma caused by his mother’s death — emotions that, no matter the background of the reader, are touching.

“Spare” is no doubt an interesting read, a sensitive account of what it means to be royal, but comes off as pretentious and out of touch. The question arises: To what extent should royals, with privileges left and right, servants at their beck and call and a permanent position in high society, still be treated as credible preachers of lifelong burden? Everyone has their own story, but it must be told with humility and self-awareness, which “Spare” only partly achieves.