I can tell you now this book is one of the most talked-about books I’ve ever read. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have divided the world. Their whole relationship has been “front-page news” since its reveal. In this book Prince Harry takes you through his whole life, admitting a lot and also revealing so much about how the Royal Family is run.
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Harry is often referred to as the “spare” which is a play on the fact that his brother William is the “heir”. This book covers Harry’s life from growing up as a child, his struggles with losing his mother, some odd personal stories and a fascinating look into the behind-the-scenes of what it’s really like to be a prince.
Spare plot – 4/5
With a memoir or non-fiction book, in this section, I review the stories that the author has chosen to talk about. Spare has a wide variety of stories. Before it was even released, many of the best stories had been leaked, blown up by the press and arguably created further hype around the book. Harry covers everything here from the harrowing loss of his mother at such a young age, the constant struggles of wanting to be a regular boy/young man and man but having to constantly remember he’s a prince and so has duties, responsibilities and an image to portray.
Harry reveals a lot in this book including the fact he has taken drugs, his thoughts on some of the controversial press around him and even some stories no one ever knew about (some I’d argue we didn’t need/want to know). It is an absolutely fascinating look into a man who never chose to be born into the royal family but grew up shaking hands, waving to crowds, responding to the press and being forced to act a certain way.
What struck me is how “normal” Harry’s childhood was. Yes, the “normality” of his activities was gentrified – he ate his dinner in front of the tv but off of a silver platter and he played on a ride-on push bike but in thousands of acres of land at a castle – but these fancier elements weren’t activities he chose, they were made fancier because he was part of the poshest family in the land.
Spare showed me that Harry’s family tried to be as normal as I suppose a Royal family can be when they could – they had family dinners where the late Queen was often referred to as playing with Harry, laughing at his silliness and enjoying his childlike behaviour.
I don’t want to reveal too much here, though a lot of it has already been catalogued (both because of the book and due to the press at the time) but as he grew up, his rebelliousness began to build but you can tell he fought against his desire to rebel and not conform because of his love and closeness with his family. It’s a great look into the behind-the-scenes of a real prince.
Spare characters – 4/5
In this section I’m going to focus on the personality Harry puts across with this memoir. Harry has been a fav-favourite for a lot of the British public for many years. He was good-looking, the cheeky one, the one who didn’t seem to take being a Royal too seriously and he always seem to enjoy his duties.
In Spare, it shows a much darker side of the smile he always portrayed. For much of his late-20s, Harry suffered from a lot of anxiety and would often deliver speeches just after a panic attack or whilst suffering from a smaller anxiety attack. His perception of being a royal is this image of being “perfect”; you have to be seen to be kind, selfless, generous, outgoing and always wanting to help. This constant requirement meant that behind the scenes, off “royal duty” as it were, he’d do what he wanted to do.
The two main themes of this book were the death of his mother and how the press have controlled and dominated his life – which is obviously what brought on his leaving the royal family in the end. The press, including names, are painted out (and I’d argue rightly so) as the villains throughout this whole book. They manipulated the public to sell papers, not thinking of the consequences this would have on their lives. There’s the argument that the press killed Princess Diana too (which Harry discusses and explores too). He’s clearly a hurt boy and one who, as a result, became truly fed up with the way the press has become to control the royal family and their actions.
He admits to having often had difficult conversations with family members, especially William. He admits to disliking certain staff and having falling outs with close family members. One thing you constantly have to remember when reading a memoir is that you’re reading every story from the point-of-view of the one writing it – there are other angles and there are other portrayals, so remember to extract the fact and avoid forming an opinion based on an opinion.
I still like Harry and I feel sorry for the onslaught he’s gone through. He’s been a bit of a hypocrite with some of the things he’s said but we have to remember it took courage to remove himself from the royal family – he gave up his wealth, security and “fame” to be with Meghan and that’s not a small step.
Spare final rating – 4
Spare bordered on a little boring and weird at times but in the end, it’s an absolutely fascinating look into the behind-the-scenes of one of the most talked-about men of the past decade. Seeing what it’s like to grow up a prince having never chosen that life and then the vast differences from most other people’s lives are fascinating to read.
The book focuses on the impact the press and his mother’s death have had on Harry’s life. Almost every decision he’s ever made has been because of one of those two elements. Spare is a hate letter to the press, a love letter to his mother and a fascinating look into the real life of a price that we only usually read fictional depictions of in fantasy books.
If you liked this book, you may find these other books I’ve reviewed interesting: