Prince Harry’s Spare The Duke of Sussex – Review

Honest, insightful and often vulnerable, Save shares Prince Harry’s personal journey from childhood to adulthood and fatherhood

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“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

—William Faulkner

I finished reading this book a few weeks ago when the public rage and panty-twisting about it was at its peak. But for all the wildly inaccurate claims about what this book is supposed to say, I think it reads like a deeply personal coming-of-age memoir.

I found Save by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex (and his ghost writer, JR Moehringer) (Random House, 2022: Amazon US / Amazon UK), to be sensible, carefully structured (for the most part) and extremely readable. Contrary to all the abuses of its detractors, this book was not scandalous and not self-aggrandizing. Instead, it was a very realistic and very absorbing memoir by and about a person who, through no fault of his own, is living an extraordinary life. Bottom line: I enjoyed it and read it in one long sitting.

The book is divided into three roughly equal parts: Harry’s childhood, the early loss of his mother Diana, and his years of education, particularly at Eton; his youth, military career along with his continuing quest for love and his growing hostility towards the paparazzi (‘paparazzi’ as he refers to them), and in part three, getting to know Meghan, his deepening relationship with her, his change relationship with your family and your fatherhood.

The predominant themes throughout the book are trauma, betrayal, and loss, which many people can relate to. Harry presents a powerful and gritty look at the dynamics of a surprisingly dysfunctional family trapped in an emotional poverty they can’t understand, a socially crippled family that uses the press as a weapon against its enemies and against the world – and each other – by publicly or politically discrediting their rivals with falsehoods. In a way, I saw this book as a modernized retelling of, shall we say, I claudiowhich was about another highly dysfunctional royal family, where individual members of the family secretly plot and ruthlessly maneuver to increase their own personal power, usually by murdering and poisoning their kin.

Paparazzi poisoning?

But not everything is killer drama. In telling his story, Prince Harry also considers the core issues of his own personal life, core issues that all thinking people recognize and reflect on at some point in their own lives. The book is alternately emotional, raw, funny and insightful. For example, I found it particularly moving that Harry was very well aware of his primary purpose and duties as The Spare, even when he was still a very young child. He writes:

“The heir and the spare – there was no judgment on that, but also no ambiguity. I was the shadow, the support, the Plan B. I was brought into the world in case something happened to Willy. I was called upon to provide support, distraction, diversion and, if necessary, a spare part. Kidney, maybe. Blood transfusion. Bone marrow stain. All of this was explicitly made clear to me from the beginning of life’s journey and regularly reinforced thereafter.”

How much might this peculiar status have damaged Harry’s self-esteem? I can’t even imagine. While many of Harry’s life experiences are unique, his writings about their effects on him and his worldviews are refreshing and insightful: his recollections of feeling misunderstood, invalidated, unheard of, and unappreciated as an individual by his family certainly ring true for me. , as I’m sure they will for many people.

Most of this book shares Harry’s public and charitable work and his military career. Both are deeply important to him and both are where the paparazzi have mercilessly hounded him. Those closest to him often ended up fearing for their lives from the hordes of insatiable paparazzi that routinely hounded them, and – again and again – this cost Harry dearly. For example, his ex-girlfriend Chelsea, whom Harry may have married, broke up with him after discovering a tracking device had been installed in her car. Even more scandalous, the paparazzi endangered the lives of Harry’s military unit in Iran.

Then Harry met Meghan. But even then they were subjected to frequent abuse, lies and outright racism by the press. These attacks were so severe that Meghan, who was pregnant at the time, contemplated suicide. What could Harry do to prevent another tragedy like the one that claimed his mother’s life, besides running away?

“My problem has never been with the monarchy, nor with the concept of a monarchy,” writes Prince Harry. “It has been with the press and the unhealthy relationship that has developed between it and the Palace. I love my homeland, I love my family and I always will. I just wish, in the second darkest moment of my life, that they were both there for me. And I believe one day they will look back and wish they had done the same.”

This captivating book shares details of Harry’s childhood, youth and ultimately finding love. But it also details a decisive journey away from loneliness and isolation to a fuller life, enlisting the support of others and discovering strength in vulnerability. It’s a coming-of-age story that reflects on the importance of finding one’s own identity and being open to new experiences. Highly recommended.

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