Sunday, March 26, 2023

Spare by Prince Harry

Spare by Prince Harry is an autobiography that’s both compelling and well-crafted, with Harry writing it along with J.R. Moehringer, ghost writer of Open by Andre Agassi and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It’s a very personal story that covers Harry’s life and the things that caused him to not be an active part of the royal family.

The British press would hound Harry and anyone associated with him, and palace advisors would leave him to fend for himself, with him being told about lies said of him to "ignore it and it will go away." The press operated at time on the basis that even if something was not true, the value they would derive from printing it outweighed the potential negative in libel suits. Harry also wrote about how as he looked at pictures from inside the Paris tunnel where his mom died when he was twelve, he saw how her dying face was lit up by flashes from press photographers. He also notes that one of the worst papers was News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Harry's father and brother certainly don't come across positively in the book, but less for them being malicious, and more for them simply going along with what royal advisors wanted. One anecdote Harry tells is how when he got injured in military exercises just prior to joining the Army, the palace reported he got hurt playing rugby, so the press said he afraid to serve his country. It was interesting to read about his military service, with him first directing people toward enemy targets and then becoming a helicopter pilot. Also covered is his charity work, including for soldiers injured in combat (which led to the formation of the Invictus Games), and for people in Africa with AIDS. It was great content about Harry's love of Botswana, flying into Maun and spending time in the Okavango Delta in the Kalahari Desert. He would sit around the campfire, often with his friends Teej and Mike who owned a film production company, with the wilds of Africa just outside that circle. He refers to Botswana as being the most sparsely populated nation on earth, with 40% of the land given over to nature.

The latter part of the book is about his time with his now wife. The press was frequently racist toward Meghan, harassing she and her family and referring to her as being “from Compton, home of gangsters.” Things she was doing that at worst were cultural misunderstandings were blown up to be character flaws and conflicts. Palace decision-makers didn't back her in the press regarding things that she was criticized for, often when the same palace advisors had given her the go-ahead or direction, on things to do or wear. They also wouldn't officially contradict false statements, they just let them sit out there, perhaps in part because if she was getting all the bad press, it wasn’t being directed towards Charles or William. Harry and Meghan were in British Columbia, Canada when their security was pulled in March 2020, leaving them not knowing where they could go and still be safe. Tyler Perry offered them use of his empty house in Los Angeles, saying that he was doing it because of the love his late mother felt towards Harry’s late mother, Diana. There’s much in the book that’s a shame with the deterioration of Harry’s relationship with Charles and William, much that’s outraging with how the press and the palace advisors treated he and Meghan, and much that's interesting and really good storytelling.