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Spare by Prince Harry - Review

Friday, March 29, 2024

I listened to this book on Spotify and it took me forever! I was really interested to listen to it, but I don't listen to audiobooks that much - mostly just on the way to work and back just once a week. This is also really long at nearly sixteen hours long! But I persevered and I finally finished it in the middle of March. I've already had some interesting conversations about it and if you've read it I would love to hear your opinion too. 

It's read by Harry which was a plus in its favour because I find him quite personable and it was interesting to listen to him for so long. But I am glad to have finished this!

So I'll start off by saying that I am in no way a Royalist. I would get rid of the Royal Family in its entirety if it was up to me. I don't buy any of the arguments for keeping them, so I'm not a fan. But I do find Harry interesting, to say the least. I think he's done a lot of work on his privileges since he met Meghan and is doing well... but is still a ridiculously overprivileged person with no real idea about the real world. I also sympathise because of course he lost his mum so tragically, and I did already think that the press had just been terrible towards Harry and Meghan and was interested to see what he had to say. I guess I'm saying I like him more than some of his family, but still wouldn't say I'm a fan.

I will also say that in any given situations there are shades of truth. There's my truth and perception, there's your truth and perception, and there's the actual truth, which is probably somewhere in the middle. People bring their past experiences and prejudices to any situation, and they don't always have all the information that they might need to understand the entire truth. So some of this book I think is definitely just Harry's perceptions of many of his experiences.... many of which stem from feeling like he's just the 'spare' and not the heir. 

The book is roughly split into three parts - the first part details his early life and the death of his mother, and his school days. The middle part is his later teens, his time abroad, his military career, his early relationships, and the 'naughty' Harry that the papers kept writing about. The third part is about Meghan and their relationship and the abuse Meghan suffered, and their escape to California, and the birth of their two children. The book ends just as the Queen died, and honestly, if I was Harry, I don't think I would ever forgive my family for that debacle. 

Overarching themes are that Charles is very closed off from his sons and that a lot of issues could be solved if he wasn't, that he tells them to not read the papers instead of like actually doing something, and that he courts the press himself when he wants to, that William is a self entitled douche because he's the heir, that William doesn't like to rock the boat but is resentful when Harry does, that the Queen has to be consulted on literally everything, that Harry and Meghan really should have been given security even now, that they didn't want to leave the family but needed more help and protection, that Harry has just been badly let down since he was a child by a lot of the adults in his life. And I would include Diana there too. She has her own stuff going on when he was just little. It's obvious that Harry has looked for parent figures outside of his own family, maybe just because he is a more emotionally mature person and craves that in others. 

The first part was interesting because there's a lot of stuff about the ways and traditions of the Royal Family that I just didn't know, and that Harry just accepted when he was little. As he grows up he pushes back against some of these because he just wants to know the why of certain things. For example, he has to ask the Queen's permission to keep his beard for his wedding day, and William is angry about it because he wasn't able to. But it's not obvious if William even asked, or if he just took the 'no' from courtiers as an answer and shaved. Harry clearly didn't accept this, and William complained about it. I also felt for Harry as he just clearly felt like the extra part and just not wanted very much. Royal life seems lonely and like you're just shunted from one place to another, and Harry seems to have been thought of as the 'thick' one. It was interesting to hear about where he was when 9/11 happened as that's something that unites all of us of a certain age above. And in fact, Harry is only 8 months younger than me - I turned forty in January and he will turn forty in September. 

The second part was interesting too, because there was all of Harry's rambunctious party ways as well as his military career. I knew he had served but didn't know too much about it. I do think he talks about killing members of the Taliban in a really blase, unbothered way. I would have liked a deeper dive into that. His experiences travelling in Botswana and at the north and south poles were really interesting too - but again, he glosses over the immense privilege he has had in being able to go there in the first place.

The third part is adorable because it's just their love story. It would be hard for anyone, even Meghan haters, to not feel for them as Harry describes falling in love and being besieged by the press. It's obvious that Meghan has suffered disgusting racist abuse and just nonsense because she didn't understand royal protocol - but who of us would? Like for instance closing her own car door - don't we all do that automatically when we get out of the car? We've been doing it since we were small children, for goodness sake. I have to say I wouldn't wait for an aide to do it either!

It's clear that Harry loathes the press, but it's easy to understand why, too. Not only because of his mother but because of what he's suffered through and his wife. I'm not surprised he's suing them; I am surprised that family's reaction seemed to be like, oh well, what can you do? He doesn't seem to like Camilla very much at all. It's easy to believe his version of the truth on most things, but I know that that can't be right. But it's easy to WANT to believe him, too. 

In all I'm giving this four out of five. I'm glad I listened to it all. 

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