Prince Harry’s bombshell book, fittingly entitled Spare, delves deep into his childhood treatment as second-best, his mother’s passing, and the abuse he and Duchess Meghan received at the hands of the British press. The book has ironically faced global media attention, the very thing Harry and Meghan were trying to escape. With the recent release of his Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan and now his memoir, the question everyone seems to be wondering remains: why does Harry continue to voluntarily put himself in the media?
People around the globe praise Harry for his departure from the royal family as they believe he hates the British monarchy and calls for its abolition, when in reality, Harry states, “My problem has never been with the monarchy, nor the concept of monarchy. It’s been with the press and the sick relationship that’s evolved between it and the Palace. I love my Mother Country, and I love my family, and I always will. I just wish, at the second-darkest moment of my life, they’d both been there for me. And I believe they’ll look back one day and wish they had too.” Contrary to what people assume, Harry does not contest the institution; his qualms are rather with the British press that has been following his every move since birth. This moral standpoint calls into question what value he sees in a monarchy. Harry himself loathes the concept of the “heir and the spare,” the dispensable manner in which he was treated, and the problematic decisions his family makes. Still, he sees no issue in the establishment that calls for that dynamic. Yes, the press and his relatives were brutal, but he needs to take a step back and examine the entire institution that made them that way.
The media truly is unforgiving in its nature and called Harry “Prince Thicko” throughout his teenage years. Harry recalls his high school experience at Eton College, where he was struggling to keep up with his academic workload and his report card became public domain. This is when the media began to call him naughty and stupid. It is disgustingly wrong to publicly make fun of a teenager, and the press’s actions during this time were inexcusable. It set the stage for Harry’s justified lifelong hatred of the media, combined with the trauma his mother faced throughout her lifetime.
However, Harry has made some mistakes. Despite attending the most academically prestigious schools in the world, Harry appears to have a limited worldview. This became evident when he wore a Nazi costume to a colonizer-themed party. Claiming Prince William and Duchess Kate encouraged the idea, his excuse after the backlash was that he never learned about the atrocities of the Holocaust (a ridiculous justification given that the schools he attended certainly had World War II as part of the curriculum). Prince Harry has a massive platform simply due to his title, yet is so ignorant about the world and issues that don’t manifest in his own life.
Spare continues to follow Harry’s journey as a soldier, as a husband, and later as a father. A common thread throughout was the never-ending amount of media attention he received, especially when he married Meghan Markle. Readers watch as his familial ties dissolve (his family thought Meghan was “rude” and “abrasive,” causing a physical altercation between he and William) as his marriage grows stronger. He ends these stories on a hopeful note, wishing he and his family could “reunite” someday and reconcile their differences. This begs yet another question: why slander one’s own relatives if you wish to restore harmony in the future?
Regardless of whether you believe Prince Harry’s stories or not, one fact becomes glaringly obvious after reading Spare: Harry was not meant to be in a position of influence. Every time he is presented with an opportunity to make real change in the world, he only thinks of himself. Instead of joining forces to combat poaching in Africa, he and Prince William clashed over who was allowed to address it. He relished his time at war rather than stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture. And finally, he published an entire memoir slamming his family as opposed to making amends through conversation and compromise.
There were many ways to fight back against the near-constant stream of media that has consumed Harry’s life until this point. Yet he chose the option that was least conducive to his effort: publicizing himself more. And honestly, he left the world with more questions than answers.
Grace Diaz and Julia Szymanski
Graphic: Gina Vaynshteyn