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  • Mariyum Iqbal

The Spare heir


Published on the 10th of January, Prince Harry's memoir has currently sold 1.4 million copies, making it the fastest selling non-fiction book in the UK. But like most people, I will assume you have not read it from cover to cover. So let me break down this quite bizarre insight into the life of the black sheep royale.

Unique to any other royal memoir, this book is very intimate. If you want to know about his oscillating penis, the talking toilet he saw after smoking a joint, and losing his virginity behind a pub, I highly recommend it. This book humanises the boy and later the man he grows up to become. It does not take away from his experience as the Prince to His Royal Majesty (which came with the pressures of being an ‘extra’ heir) and his military experiences. But most importantly, J. R. Moehringer, Harry’s ghostwriter, shows the trauma he goes through after losing his mother, with Diana’s essence captured in every corner of every page.

Having said this, these moments of humour, love and growth are overshadowed with the slightly odd conclusion that many will come to too. The book is strange. At moments it is very relatable but at others I was left cringing. It is hard for me to sympathise with Meghan and Harry after the book, if that is what the couple intended, as I increasingly think they live in a bit of a bubble.

The book is broken down into three sections: his early childhood; his time in the army; and meeting Meghan and leaving the royal family.

The bizarre memories he has of his father who insinuates that Harry was not his, rather the love child of Diana and her writing instructor - which was impossible as they met after Harry was born - starts to explain the broken relationship he has with his dad. Harry was then sent to a British boarding school where he was bathed until 13 years old by the school matron. During this time Harry increasingly vocalises the tension in the brothers’ relationship. Moreover, he started smoking weed, and later lied about doing cocaine. But, overall, the odd nature of his childhood is best encapsulated by his story of the King watching Harry perform in a Shakespearean play where he puts all the focus and attention on him. During the period it is evident Harry went through immense heartbreak, with the absent Diana, and had an unhealthy relationship with his father.

Undeniably, Harry had a party phase. Infamously, Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi, where the party's theme was “coloniser”, supposedly after William and Kate edged him on. He later asked for forgiveness and educated himself. But he still seems to have blamed his brother, which I find odd, adding to a recurring theme of shifting accountability.

There is also a disturbingly long stretch about his oscillating penis. This part also mentions Diana.

As you may have heard, Prince Harry claims to have killed 25 people (Taliban fighters) while serving for the British Army in Afghanistan, equating them to chess pieces. To this, the Iranian Foreign Ministry furiously responded, calling it a war crime.

In an effort not to explain the very complex range of issues in Afghanistan or the involvement of Iran, the lack of response from the Royal family on the book as well as this statement has shocked many.

Finally Harry mentions his charity work after the war, where there is more tension between him and his brother, as well as his latter meeting with Meghan Markle. He explained the deteriorating relationship he had with the royal family and the life he now lives.

The Royals’ lack of reaction seems to be the best approach for them, as they try to preserve the image of the institution. Because the more they respond, the more it legitimises the issue, right?

While many will find it impossible to disagree that the royal family has at least some institutional racism, the relevance of this book is confusing. Following Oprah’s interview and the Netflix documentary (which was more of a romantic love story than anything else), the aim of the book is perplexing.

Clearly people still care, as the book has outsold Barack Obama's memoir and continues to climb the charts. So, the relevance of the book in terms of interest and sales goes without question. But why, and what will actually be achieved from the book, is unknown.

Other than the lack of purpose, I am not too sure it will leave many completely fulfilled, as Harry does come across as slightly ignorant. Maybe the book was written just to give an insight, or to fuel this increasingly binary divide between the couple and the royal family. That’s up to the reader to decide.

Image: Unsplash/ King Church



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