If you thought Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s 2021 Oprah interview was explosive, just wait until you get your hands on Prince Harry’s book.
Prince Harry’s new tell-all memoir “Spare” (Random House, 416 pp., out Tuesday) has already made droves of headlines thanks to leaked copies ahead of release. But there’s still plenty to learn from the book, which promises tons of drama but also a thoughtful, nuanced recollection of the biggest stories the public thought it knew about the British royal.
The ghostwritten memoir is rife with bombshell revelations. These are the biggest things we’ve learned so far as we continue to dig into the book.
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Harry and William asked Charles not to marry Camilla
As Camilla Parker-Bowles, now King Charles’ queen consort, became a bigger part of Charles’ life following Diana’s death, he sat down with his sons to discuss her future in their family. While Harry and William said they’d forgive Camilla’s “pivotal role in the unraveling of our parents’ marriage” and welcome her into the family, they asked their father that he not marry her.
“You don’t need to remarry, we pleaded,” he writes. “A wedding would cause controversy. … We support you, we said. We endorse Camilla, we said. Just please don’t marry here. Just be together, Dad.”
Charles didn’t answer, according to Harry. Charles and Camilla married on April 9, 2005.
Charles joked he wasn’t Harry’s ‘real father’
Charles was a fan of telling stories that would end in a “burst of philosophizing,” Harry recalls. Once, he told his son a tale that ended on a personal note: “Who knows if I’m even your real father?” he said to Harry. “Maybe your real father is in Broadmoor, darling boy.”
Charles would “laugh and laugh, even though it was a remarkably unfunny joke,” Harry adds. Tabloids speculated Major James Hewitt to be Harry’s birth father, despite the fact that Diana didn’t meet him “until long after I was born,” he writes.
Young Harry firmly believed Diana wasn’t dead
Overwhelmed with grief, there was a time immediately after his mother’s death when Harry wholeheartedly believed Diana had staged her death.
“With nothing to do but roam in the castle and talk to myself, a suspicion took hold, which then became a firm belief. This was all a trick,” he writes. “And for once the trick wasn’t being played by the people around me, or the press, but by Mummy. Her life’s been miserable, she’s been hounded, harassed, lied about, lied to. So she’s staged an accident as a diversion and run away.”
That belief brought temporary relief to the young prince, who dreamed of himself and his brother joining Diana at a secret Swiss Alps getaway. But he battled back and forth in his mind about the truth until his aunt Duchess Sarah brought a box with clipped locks of Diana’s hair to Harry and William.
‘Mummy’s been in a car crash’: How Charles broke the news of Diana’s death to Harry
When news of Diana’s death surfaced, Harry and other members of the royal family were staying at Balmoral in Scotland – the same royal residence where Queen Elizabeth II would die 25 years later.
Harry recalls his father waking him up in the middle of the night, wearing a white dressing gown, to share the news that would change his life forever.
“Darling boy, Mummy’s been in a car crash,” Charles told his son, who was 12 at the time.
“I remember waiting patiently for Pa to confirm that indeed Mummy was all right. And I remember him not doing that,” he writes. Harry was insistent that she’d be treated at the hospital and be reunited with her family soon.
“They tried, darling boy. I’m afraid she didn’t make it,” his father said. Charles didn’t hug Harry and “wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances,” but did try to reassure his son that it was “going to be OK.”
The royal family referred to Harry as ‘The Spare’
“The Heir and the Spare” is an old term referring to aristocratic families in which the first-born child is the heir to inherit the throne, while the second-born is the leftover child there to support their older sibling.
As Harry writes, it wasn’t just a turn of phrase used by media and palace outsiders – his own family, including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Charles and Princess Diana referred to him as such.
“There was no judgment about it, but also no ambiguity,” he writes. “I was in the shadow, the support, the Plan B. I was brought into the world in case something happened to Willy. I was summoned to provide backup, distraction, diversion and, if necessary, a spare party. Kidney, perhaps. Blood transfusion. Speck of bone marrow. This was all made explicitly clear to me from the start of life’s journey and regularly reinforced thereafter.”
When Harry was 20, he recalls, he was told that his father joked to his mother on the day of his birth that she had given the future king an heir and a spare. “My work is done,” he said.
Later on in the book he recalls a teacher giving him a hard time for not showing an interest in British history — after all, many lessons were about Harry’s family.
“Did he need to use that loaded word — family? My family had declared me a nullity. The Spare,” he writes. “I didn’t complain about it, but I didn’t need to dwell on it either. … I knew this, knew my place, so why go out of my way to study it?”
Why Harry wrote his tell-all book
After he and Meghan stepped down from senior roles in the royal family in 2020 and moved to the US, Harry reunited with his family for the first time a year later at his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral. King Charles – Prince Charles at the time – and Prince William had “come ready for a fight,” Harry writes.
“Every time I ventured a new explanation, started a new line of thought, one or both of them would cut me off,” he writes. “Willy in particular didn’t want to hear anything. After he’d shut me down several times, he and I began sniping, saying some of the same things we’d said for months – years. It got so heated that Pa raised his hands. Enough!
“He stood between us, looking up at our flushed faces. Please, boys – don’t make my final years a misery.”
Harry remembers William, whom he calls “my beloved brother, my arch nemesis,” and his father saying they “honestly” didn’t know why Harry left.
“If they didn’t know why I’d left, maybe they just didn’t know me. At all. And maybe they never really did. … How can I tell them? I can’t. It would take too long. Besides, they’re clearly not in the right frame of mind to listen. Not now, anyway. Not today. And so: Pa? Willy? World? Here you go.”
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