News from Nowhere: Cry God for Harry!
His memoir is called Spare, ostensibly in acknowledgment of his role in the line of succession: his older brother being the heir, he himself being merely the spare.
So, at last, Prince Harry’s eagerly awaited autobiography is out.
Eagerly awaited? Well, so his publishers would have us believe, although, after his Netflix show, his Spotify podcast, and his series of interviews with Anderson Cooper at CBS, ITV's Tom Bradby, and the Oprah Winfrey Network's very own Oprah Winfrey, it’s unclear how much appetite remains for further revelations from the prince of self-pity.
Autobiography? Again, so his publishers would hope we believe, though there may be those who doubt whether the authorship of this 410-page memoir can honestly be ascribed to a man whose literary skills haven’t previously stretched to anything much longer than a Harrods shopping list.
Prince Harry’s book was released last week – but then the powers-that-be have recently released a new Avatar movie and Boris Becker, so it looks like they’ll let loose pretty much anything in the world these days. Heaven only knows what we’ve done to deserve these things. For once, it’s not even because we voted for Brexit.
Like the Avatar sequel, Harry’s book came out amidst a storm of publicity and proved as tedious, superficial, and unbelievable as anyone might have expected. And, like Boris Becker, the Duke of Sussex himself is a flame-haired celebrity of Teutonic ancestry with a poor reputation for financial prudence, who commands high fees for his media appearances but who now finds himself less than welcome in the UK.
Ahead of his book’s publication, the pariah prince announced that he’d like to ‘get his father back’ and his brother too. It wasn’t clear whether he meant that he wanted to do so in terms of redemption or revenge: to get them back into his life or to get back at them for all their perceived slights.
If he sincerely wishes for reconciliation, then he has a rather peculiar way of going about it. Remorseless attempts at public humiliation rarely make friends. To openly accuse a sibling of an act of enraged physical violence is hardly a cue for the restoration of brotherly love.
This feels like Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus, or Liam and Noel Gallagher, all over again.
The disloyal royal has particularly railed against his family’s guiding PR principle that they should ‘never complain’. Nonetheless, he might take note that his outwardly anodyne brother and sister-in-law maintain enviable levels of popularity with the British public simply by virtue of their consistent failure to say or do anything remotely interesting, while, by contrast, his disgraced uncle only stoked further outrage when in 2019, he gave a notoriously ill-judged, sanctimonious, and supercilious interview to the BBC in a vain bid to excuse his many transgressions. Even his own father, shortly after ascending to the throne last year, prompted general ridicule when he lost his temper at a ‘stinking’ leaky pen.
Indeed, the ginger whinger’s personal approval ratings have plummeted since he started raking in the cash by playing upon his family background through his self-righteous forays into the world of the media. He has with some justification suggested that tabloid hostility toward his wife was prompted by the color of her skin, but the pair appear blissfully unaware of the fact that the more they lament their ill-treatment, the lower they sink in the nation’s esteem.
His account of his life reveals his drug use, his chequered relationship history, and his kill count as a soldier in Afghanistan. The last of those, that crassly macho boast, was extraordinary in that it managed to unite Taliban leaders and British Army veterans in condemning it. One’s forced to wonder whether he’s lining himself up for a job as some kind of United Nations bad-will ambassador, bringing the planet together in exasperation at the blundering insensitivity of his words.
Having been widely reported in the press, such unedifying details have stirred up waves of controversy coolly calculated to promote sales of his book, sales which will doubtless rocket faster and higher than NASA’s latest shot at the moon, make the glamorously mercenary couple wealth beyond the combined dreams of Croesus, Bezos, Musk, and Trump, and add further luster to the Markle sparkle. Even the UK’s own Rishi Rich might feel a pang of envy at the thought of it.
Meanwhile, the young duke has stayed very focused on his own sense of injustice and trauma. He denies the official explanation of the accident which caused his mother’s death – an event that clearly continues to haunt him (and to fuel his hatred of the gutter press). Indeed, he says he went so far as to consult a spiritualist in an attempt to contact the dear departed people’s princess.
Once more, he stresses his dislike of his stepmother, his struggles with mental illness, and his perception of his father’s emotional coldness. He’s also accused his father of having been jealous of Ms. Markle’s fame, although some might question whether one of the former regulars from a streamed TV show was really so much better known on the global stage than the man born to be King of England.
However, perhaps Harry’s most damaging claim is rather less sensational. He repeats his assertion that state-funded royal press offices have been deployed by his closest family members to run smear campaigns against him and his wife. As one BBC correspondent has pointed out, the Palace’s time-honored refusal to comment on such things represents a wholly inadequate response to this allegation of serious misuse of public resources.
His memoir is called Spare, ostensibly in acknowledgment of his role in the line of succession: his older brother being the heir, he himself being merely the spare. But, at a time in which millions of his father’s subjects are struggling to feed their families and heat their homes, it feels increasingly difficult to find a great deal of sympathy for the self-absorption of this sorry product of pampering and privilege.
The book, then, lives up to its title. It really is spare: entirely surplus to requirements. It will most likely, after the current tsunami of press prudery and prurience has passed, seem utterly irrelevant to the vast majority of British people – as indeed, sadly, will this lost and wayward prince.
The final fate of Prince Henry Charles Albert David may eventually recall that of his distant ancestor, the deposed King Henry VI, who died in 1471 a prisoner in the Tower of London, or of King Charles I, whose extravagant conduct brought down the monarchy and led to his execution in 1649 – or of his great-grandfather’s brother David, who abdicated in 1936 to pursue a scandalous marriage with an American divorcee.
However, one suspects he might like to think of himself instead as a modern incarnation of his great-great-grandfather, Albert the playboy prince, who later became a rather fine sovereign, or of the dissolute Prince Harry who would, as his nation’s most celebrated warrior-king, lead England to a glorious victory over the French at Agincourt in 1415, and who, as Shakespeare said, came to throw off the ‘loose behavior’ of his youth, and, like the sun emerging from the clouds, break through ‘the foul and ugly mists of vapors that did seem to strangle him’.
The late great King Henry V reigned less than a decade and was dead at thirty-five, three years before he might have reached our own Prince Harry’s current age. But, though only one ever signed highly lucrative deals with international media organizations, those two prodigal princes had a couple of crucial things in common: they both fought for their country and they both drove their parents spare.