Spare the truth
When Spare, the book by Prince Harry, came out in January, I vowed not to read it just out of obstreperousness. I wasn’t moved by the fact that Guinness World Records named it the “fastest selling non-fiction book of all time.” Nor did I bow to temptation when I saw stacks of copies in my local Indigo. A week ago, however, out of nowhere, I got a message on my iPad saying I could renew Spare for another three weeks on Libby. The notice looked official and included my Toronto Public Library number. Turns out Libby is an online provider of library books for free.
I knew, of course, the book had been ghosted by novelist J. R. Moehringer and that Harry had received an advance of a reported $20 million. I thought, well, I guess I’m supposed to read this book. I read it all, more than 400 pages, in two riveted days. Written in the first person, Spare covers every detail of Harry’s life including his crepe-draped memories of the death of his mother, Lady Diana, when he was twelve. For a number of years he thought she was still alive and had gone into hiding to escape the paparazzi.
And, oh the paparazzi, whom he calls the paps. Even though he’s the Spare and his older brother William is the Heir, Harry was constantly followed or spied upon by the British press who made up tales about him and all the Royals.
But Harry doesn’t spare the Royal family. Charles comes off as a distant father who would rather write Harry a letter than speak directly to him. William is very competitive and did not even acknowledge Harry when both attended Eton. Margaret, he writes, “could kill a houseplant with one scowl.” There are no anecdotes about Philip and too few about the Queen whom he calls Granny.
His marriage to Meghan Markle, a biracial American, caused some well-documented concern. A Royal who remains unnamed in this so-called tell-all was said to have worried about “how dark” Meghan’s unborn child would be.
Is it all accurate? I wonder about the many direct quotes that are cited from years gone by. Does anyone have that good a memory? And if they really wanted peace and quiet, why write a book? South Park did a wonderful parody called The Worldwide Privacy Tour. So, read Spare if you like – it is very readable – but you don’t need to believe everything.