Spare – The Controversy

Prince Harry’s autobiography ‘Spare’ is the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever. The book has recorded a sales figure of 630,000 print copies in its first week across hardback, ebook and audio formats writes M R Dua

  • The book, ‘Spare’, ghostwritten by a well-known, Pulitzer Prizewinner, John Joseph Moehringer, best known by his pen name J R Moehringer
  • Penguin Random House reported it was the highest first-day sales of any non-fiction title it had published in the North America
  • The book’s title comes from an old saying in royal circles: that a first son is an heir to titles, power and fortune, and a second is, a spare
  • Harry’s memoir has knocked Prince William’s popularity more than his own according to Ipsos Mori poll. Prince’s ratings have plunged 8%

EVER since ‘Spare’, the young British Prince Harry’s book, went on sale since its release on 11 January this year, it has raised a fulsome, intense heat and dust, and the book’s sale has established new unbeatable records. The memoir, published in 16 languages, has smashed records around the world. It sold 467,183 copies in Britain in its first week, making it the fastest-selling non-fiction title of all time there. On publication day alone, it reportedly sold more than 400,000 in hardback, e-book and audio formats.

A further one million units were sold on its first day in the US and Canadian markets, where it had an initial print run of two million books. Penguin Random House reported it was the highest first-day sales of any non-fiction title it had published in the North American market, greater than the previous record holder, Barack Obama’s A Promised Land, which sold nearly 900,000 copies in November 2020.

The book is being reviewed and discussed not only in the British (mostly tabloid)  print media; even dozens of reputed American daily newspapers, such as The New York Times (four times), Washington Post, Los Angeles Times; and the financials, like The Economist, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); weekly periodicals including, People, the New Yorker, etc, have carried multiple writes-up multiple times in the same issue. For example, on January 11, 2023, the WSJ published three pieces—a long special edit page article, an elaborate review, and a news item heralding the book’s release everywhere, anywhere in the world.

TITLE & CHAPTERS

The book’s title – ‘Spare’-  comes from an old saying in royal and aristocratic circles: that a first son is an heir to titles, power and fortune, and a second is, therefore, a spare, should anything happen to the first-born.

The memoir’s main theme relates to the current British King Charles III: Prince Harry, {second son of King Charles III, first son and older brother of Prince William. Prince Harry’s mother Diana who died in a road accident in France. 

Harry was only 12 years old when Diana died. Now 38, he seems to be sorely missing his mother, the late Princess Diana (nee Diana Frances Spencer), kindergarten teacher, secret girlfriend of Prince Charles, and he writes in this memoir about his life after her death, and the (mis)treatment that the Royal family is meting out with him. Before the book went on sale, its crucial contents were said to have leaked. The 400-page, $30-priced ‘Spare’ narrates how Diana’s tragic death in a road crash, ‘gave him jolt of hope, and burst of energy … and a stab of sorrow.’

Prince Harry’s memoir talks about the British Royals prominently, sarcastically, in unlikely include, his older brother, Prince William – with whom he’s still not on talking terms, how and  why he has fallen out of love with royalty, bitterly blasted as ‘Firm’ in the book; his own dad, who divorced his mother, Diana, to wed Camila. Also, Harry was prodigiously morose and immeasurably upset because some tabloids (like The Sun, The Mail, The Evening Standard, etc), generally branded sensational, scandalous, publicised the royals’ mutual differences tweaked as malicious stories against one another. Enormously grim and unhappy, Harry’s ‘Spare’ discloses that, like his mother, he too was relentlessly chased by the extremely inquisitive paparazzi, especially after her divorce.

SHOCKING REVELATION

‘Spare’ has listed that though too many detestable, racist stories appeared in the media on the spectacular celebrations of Prince Harry’s 2018 wedding with American actress Meghan Markle, no one from the royals came to the rescue of the newly-wedded couple. On the other hand, Prince Harry’s father advised him: ‘Don’t read it, darling boy.’

Harry says when he decided in 2020 to break off with his ‘Mother Country,’ United Kingdom, and quit his royal duties and settled with family in the US, California’s Montecito city, in Santa Barbara County, will always be the ‘darkest moment in his life.’

Prince Harry’s memoir talks about the British Royals prominently, sarcastically, in unlikely include, his older brother, Prince William – with whom he’s still not on talking terms, how and  why he has fallen out of love with royalty, bitterly blasted as ‘Firm’ in the book; his own dad, who divorced his mother, Diana, to wed Camila

Now drowned in deep sorrowful disposition, Prince Harry continues, “my mother was simply indescribable, a princess, named after a goddess…so exquisitely vivid in my mind…I could see her, clear as the swan, skimming towards me… how could I hear her laughter, loud as the songbirds…her devastating smile, her vulnerable eyes, her childlike love for movies and music and clothes and sweets – and us… and how she loved my brother and me…Obsessively…”

‘Spare’, which was leaked in Spain before the official release, covers a wide range of subjects, from his fractious relationship with brother William to the struggles after his mother Diana’s death in 1997.

He also reveals a heated row with William, the heir to the throne, saying his brother knocked him over, and how they had both begged his father not to marry Camilla, who he wed in 2005 and is now the queen consort.

In TV interviews ahead of the book launch, Harry has doubled down on his accusations that some royals, including Camilla and William, leaked stories to tabloid papers which had damaged either him or his wife Meghan in order to protect themselves or enhance their reputations.

“I think she (his mother Diana) would be heartbroken about the fact that William, his office, were part of these stories,” he told Good Morning America (GMA).

In another interview with CBS show 60 minutes, he said Camilla had been a tabloid “villain” and needed to rehabilitate her image, which made her “dangerous”.

“I don’t regard her as an evil stepmother. I see someone who married into this institution and has done everything that she can to, you know, improve her reputation and her own image,” he told GMA.

Finally, the author, Prince Harry, wishes to support British charities with donations from his proceeds from ‘Spare’. He has donated $1,500,000 to Sentebale, an organisation he founded with Prince Seeiso in their mothers’ legacies, which supports vulnerable children and young people in Lesotho and Botswana affected by HIV/AIDS. Prince Harry will also donate to the non-profit organisation WellChild in the amount of £300,000. WellChild, which he has been Royal patron of for fifteen years, makes it possible for children and young people with complex health needs to be cared for at home instead of hospital.

FORBIDDEN REALITY

The book, ‘Spare’, ghostwritten by a well-known, talented, Pulitzer Prizewinner, John Joseph Moehringer, who is best known by his pen name J R Moehringer, has brilliantly portrayed Diana as a happy-go-lucky lively person. To capture the prince’s tragic state of mind, the ghost writer Moehringer has quoted liberally from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, likening Harry to ‘Hamlet’, a lonely prince. In addition, many other references to literary giants such as William Faulkner, galore in the book. Moehringer has worked for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Though Prince Harry may have reason to be morose, angry and hugely upset the way the royals treated him post-Diana death, people at large opine that the prince overlooks his duties to the Buckingham Palace and the Windsor House that have preserved the affection and everlasting respect for it over the centuries. The stark fact is that a large majority of old guard traditional Britons would deem it as Harry’s deepest disregard, disrespect, and indiscretion. Moreover, washing the Royals’ dirty linen in public and among the hungry media hawks are always waiting for Royals’ juicy details.

Prince Harry And Meghan Markel, The Duke And Of Sussex, May Not Be Invited To The Royal Celebrations Of The Coronation Of King Charles Iii Planned To Be Organised On June 2023. If It Happens, It’ll Be Another Painful Event In The Long History Of The British Monarchy

Since an infinite number of writings on his intimate family affairs, as listed in his memoir, have been put out by multiple media platforms locally and worldwide which massive populations of readers have consumed concernedly, gingerly, and discussed, commented upon. Also, how whoppingly damaging, humiliating, undermining but personalised statements with the prince’s name and picture would weigh with millions of young Britons.

Harry’s memoir has knocked Prince William’s popularity more than his own, a poll suggests. Since the book was published on January 10, the Prince of Wales’s ratings have plunged eight percentage points, while his brother’s have dipped seven points, according to Ipsos Mori. Incidentally, one wonders while Harry resents paparazzi incessantly chasing him and overwhelmingly gossiping about his personal family or the extended royal family members, like his older brother, (whom he calls ‘Willy’) and his wife Kate intimate palace petty fights and trivial issues with them. All that and much more he himself offered to the media on a platter. It looks plainly ridiculous and hypocritical when he frantically decries.

And, as the recent media reports have it, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, may not be invited to Royal celebrations planned to be organised on June 2023 Coronation of King Charles III. If it happens, it’ll be another acutely painful event in the long history of the British Monarchy. 

M R DUA

The author was a professor and head of print journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, for nearly two decades. He also taught journalism at different universities in California, Calicut, and Chandigarh. He was editor of publications, Union Labour Ministry. He was also director of JIMS, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, and Institute of Media, Gurugram. He has authored five books on media issues. His writings have appeared in national newspapers, magazines, and media research journals in India and USA.

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