Emmy Griffin / January 13, 2023

A Prince’s Tale

Prince Harry’s book unveils a deeply damaged man who is willing to transgress every barrier to purge his soul of the scourge of divorce.

Russian writer Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Britain’s Prince Harry has decided to air all his family’s dirty laundry, capitalizing on the need to be the hero of his own story. His book Spare, which was released on Tuesday, has already broken sales records with 1.4 million copies sold on the first day of its release. For all the talk of it being a thinly veiled revenge piece on his family, it is at heart a treatise on the evils and fallout of divorce. Despite Tolstoy’s claim that unhappy families are different in their own way, this story of a broken family is an all too common one.

Prince Harry’s resentment toward his older brother, Prince William, is clear from the outset. “Spare” is a bitter, cynical title given to second-born male children in time gone by as a way of ensuring that the royal bloodline continued. To the dejected Harry, it means an inferiority complex (fostered, according to his memoir, by his father). The younger brother accuses the older one of ignoring him at school and throwing tantrums about infringement on causes — the Royals are philanthropists.

Outranking his older brother in the military seems to be a highlight for Prince Harry. According to Guardian writer Caroline Harris: “Harry attended Sandhurst before William, as the latter went to university. At Harry’s ‘passing out’, William saluted.” Harris goes on to quote directly from the memoir: “He couldn’t resort to his typical attitude when we were sharing an institution, couldn’t pretend not to know me — or he’d be insubordinate. For one brief moment, Spare outranked Heir.”

The black-sheep prince goes on to incite scandal in an attempt to further underline his superiority to his brother in military valor. Harry foolishly boasted that he had killed 25 Taliban fighters. Advertising the notches in his rifle butt is completely taboo in the army. It needlessly puts yourself and others at risk, plus it’s just bad form. (This is one story where Harry’s narcissism is especially evident.)

Between Prince Harry and his father King Charles III, there is a level of disengagement and lack of trust that is evident throughout his story. King Charles (then Prince of Wales) divorced his mother, Princess Diana, when Harry was eight years old. When his mother died, Harry was only 12. He needed a present father, but it doesn’t seem like he had one. Instead, according to the memoir, he had a father who wouldn’t protect him from the press, joked about his potential illegitimacy, and used the wild younger prince’s missteps as positive public relations for himself.

Then there’s Camilla Parker Bowles, the current Queen Consort and wife to King Charles. She was the other woman throughout his parents’ marriage and the biggest contributor in their divorce. According to Prince Harry’s book, the Queen Consort is a political animal. Camilla is the one whom Prince Harry blames for leaking bad stories about himself and his wife to bolster her own image. One story Prince Harry recounts is the rumor of tension between the Cambridges (William and Kate) and the Sussexes (Harry and Meghan). William admitted to his brother that he confided in his father and consequently Camilla about the familial discord. All four immediately understood where the press leaks had come from. How awful, if true; it’s kind of an evil stepmother moment.

How did Harry choose to cope with his life and circumstances? Like many a child of divorce, he turned to drugs and promiscuity, both for self-medication and defiance against his family — all of which he details in the book.

His wife, Meghan, is the shining angel in his story, his own mother reincarnated. This can only be explained by the blinders of love because in every interview Meghan Markel comes off as extremely unlikable, controlling, and entitled. She is the angel because, like his mother, she became the target of the tabloids and, like his mother, she was disliked by the royal family and was driven to suicidal thoughts.

Prince Harry attempts to paint a picture of himself as the “good” and “worthy” son. In an interview with ABC, he sees this book as an attempt to get his family to modernize, be less bigoted and privileged, and be more woke. He also sees this book as an act of freeing himself from past family pain.

Perhaps the most baffling aspect of Prince Harry’s decision to release his book is that he believes it will provoke reconciliation between himself and his family. This line of thinking doesn’t even really seem sane.

This salacious and transgressive tell-all book is compelling in the way human tragedy is always compelling. Ultimately, it is the story of a child dealing with the fallout of a marriage breakup, the death of his beloved mother, and the ensuing horribleness that comes along with dealing with that trauma. His story is only different because he was born into extraordinary privilege and is constantly in the public eye. He genuinely had a very sad childhood; where he has erred is falling face first into the faddish woke ideology and placing himself at the center of his family tragedy. He’s also taking advantage of the family motto “never complain, never explain,” knowing that his father and brother will keep a dignified silence.

Prince Harry’s story is one of a selfish and deeply damaged man who is willing to transgress every barrier of loyalty, propriety, and decency to purge his soul of the scourge of divorce. He is not the protagonist but the antagonist, and an unreliable narrator at that.

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