Spare me the details

Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Devon Helmer, Managing Editor

This previously ran in our February 2023 print issue.

In a wave of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hysteria following the release of their Netflix documentary and his series of TV appearances on 60 Minutes and Good Morning America, Prince Harry has dropped the ultimate bombshell: the release of his novel, Spare

On its Jan. 10 release date, publisher Penguin Random House reported a total of 1.4 million sales of English-language copies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada combined. In addition to becoming the U.K.’s fastest-selling memoir, Guinness World Records also confirmed that the novel’s impressive sales turnout had made Spare the fastest-selling nonfiction book of all time, beating out the record previously held by former President Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land

Prince Harry’s autobiographical narrative kicks off by introducing his writing as not only a message but a method of explanation from the Duke of Sussex to his brother and father, Prince William and King Charles. 

In his interview with Good Morning America, Harry stated his belief that he thinks his family can “reconcile” and “put [their] differences behind [them.]” 

After reading this book this statement could not be further from the truth. What was supposed to be a vessel of apology and clarification to his family instead served as the “blame game” for 407 pages, not including the acknowledgments at the finale of the book. 

Harry, nicknamed “Haz” by his close circle, takes the depth of his descriptions and reflections to a whole new level, seemingly doing everything in his power to break what he shares to be their so-called family motto, especially when dealing with the press: “Never complain, never explain.” 

The Prince’s narrative and recounting of his experiences throughout the novel all circle back to one central theme and common enemy: the press. Starting with the experiences of his mother, Diana Princess of Wales, and flooding into his own experience as a royal, all the experiences negative and harmful to his psyche, spending nearly his entire life up to this point dealing with the trauma they have caused him and his family. 

Another highlight in the novel pertains to Prince Harry’s involvement in the military before he was forcibly stripped of his honorary military titles after he stepped down as a full-time royal in 2020. I would estimate that nearly 45% of the book is specifics on his time in boot camp and the military, as well as his two tours in the Middle East.

In reading the book, watching the Netflix documentary series, and series of TV interviews, royal watchers have been given an insight into the privacy of the monarchy, which was once kept as just that. After exposing what Harry considers to be “his truth,” questions that had haunted the media and the public over the past few years had seemingly been answered. However, many questions still remain unanswered, largely due to the fact that the palace and full-time royals have yet to respond. 

Prince Harry explains that his father and brother didn’t understand why he made the decision he did in leaving the monarchy and pursuing a separate life for himself and his family, with Spare acting as a mechanism to attempt to get them all on the same level of understanding. If this is the case, why did he have to publish it for the world to read at the same time as his relatives whom he felt were owed an explanation?

Spare still would have achieved this volume of sales while leaving out the details that undermine the high class of a royal. I could have gone on through my daily life without knowing how Prince Harry lost his virginity, had frostbitten genitals at his brother’s wedding to Kate Middleton, and the frequency with which he used psychedelics and cocaine in his past life.  

That being said, my time put in does not equal total satisfaction on my end: just because I’ve consumed all of the recent royal media as of late doesn’t mean I have inherently enjoyed it after the fact. Personally, I would not recommend the book to anyone who does not have a prior interest in the royals, or an overall drive to read the over 400 pages the book holds. Spare yourself some time, and pick up a different title to occupy your mind. 3/5 stars.