AS I SEE IT
“I want my father and my brother back,” Prince Harry says in an ITV interview with Tom Bradby to publicise his explosive memoir “Spare’. The Duke of Sussex seems completely unconscious of the irony of his plea, given that the revelations in his latest broadside at the British monarchy are likely to sour relations with his family, especially his brother William, permanently.
‘Spare’, compiled for the Prince by Hollywood ghost writer JR Moehringer and just published, doesn’t spare any of the kind of lurid story lines beloved of soap scriptwriters. There is sibling rivalry which erupts into violence, Harry’s torrid loss of virginity, his drug taking and a wicked stepmother. Also his tale builds on a back story stretching back through four troubled generations of royals.
The revelations are strong stuff compared with the Harry’s previous tell-and-sell portrayal of events in the six-part Netflix’s series aired last December.
The incident in leaks about the book (spoiler alert!) which has grabbed the headlines is the altercation between Harry and the Prince of Wales in 2019 at Kensington Palace over Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle whom William says is “difficult, rude and abrasive”. When Harry accuses him of parroting the media’s line on her, William’s temper flares and Harry alleges he was knocked to the ground by his brother landing on a dog bowl and injuring his back.
So whatism could readily affect this 416-page book’s readers? After all how many lose their virginity in less than romantic circumstances (Harry lost his to an older woman behind a busy pub).? How many experiment with drugs as teenagers (Harry took cocaine aged 17 “to make me feel different, that was my main goal. To feel, to be different”)? Brothers fight don’t they? And the sibling rivalry is as old as the biblical story of Cain and Able.
However, this violent incident involved the future monarch and William’s concerns about Meghan proved to be a foresight of history grimly repeating itself, given the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson and the couple’s departure from royal life.
The book claims that both William and Harry begged their father not to marry Camilla, now Queen consort to Charles III. This is hardly surprising given Camilla’s part in the unhappy marriage where Diana revealed in a gripping 1995 BBC TV interview with Martin Bashir that “there were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded”. Apparently Camilla had been cynically instrumental in choosing Diana as a virgin bride for her royal lover.
Some of the small revelations leave the deepest cuts, like Harry’s claim that after his birth Charles said to Diana, effectively dismissing her: “Your job is done now I have an heir and a spare.” He also tells that Charles still carries around his favourite teddy bear and spills the beans about his futile plea at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral: ”Boys, don’t make my final years misery.”
What, you might ask, is Harry’s purpose in all this? Is there an element of revenge or is it an attempt to shake up the monarchy in the hope of reform? It has been Harry’s contention that members of his family planted stories about him and Meghan. Tired of being exploited by the media he feels that he has been able to turn the tables and tell his story his way. But isn’t the boot still on the other foot as TV, the press and publishers milk his revelations?
Harry has found a highly profitable way to make a living now that he has been cut off from support by the Royal family; the Sussexes are now reported to be worth about €60m. thanks to books, films and other productions. But how many more times can he tell the same story that may cost him his family?
“I want a family not an institution and one that attempts to reconcile,” he says in the ITV interview.
Harry believes that the British monarchy will survive but it should be remembered that it has done so at great personal cost for some individuals involved in the institution, including the loss of his mother Princess Diana.
Whether Harry attends his father’s coronation in May remains to be seen. ”A great deal can happen between now and then,” is Harry’s comment. If he does his family must be steeling themselves for further revelations.