On the shelf
From Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex
Random House: 416 pages, $36
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With his memoir ‘Spare’ finally hitting bookstores around the world on Tuesday, Prince Harry is cementing his place as the world’s most unpredictable king alive – a chaos agent of the most interesting kind.
The book is chock-full of references that can sound utterly ridiculous taken out of context, but they often open a window into the mind of the estranged Duke of Sussex that the more worn-out anecdotes about bickering over formal children’s clothing may not have. Read on for stories you haven’t heard—or haven’t understood yet. All materials cited are by Harry and/or his ghostwriter JR Moehringer.
“He met Nelson Mandela… and the Spice Girls”
At the beginning of “Spare,” Harry writes about a trip to South Africa with his father – now King Charles III – shortly after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. Charles didn’t want 12-year-old Harry to spend his half-term break at St James’s Palace, where he could “perhaps glance at a newspaper, overhear a radio” in which he spoke of Diana as the British press “fell into a psychosis” over her death.
Harry also wrote afterwards: “Pa’s staff hoped a photo of him alongside the world’s most respected political leader and the world’s most popular female act would get him some positive headlines, which he badly needed. … His approval ratings around the world were in the single digits.”
For this reason, Harry’s first public appearance after his mother’s death was a photo op with the Spice Girls ahead of the group’s Halloween concert in Johannesburg. Baby Spice pinched Harry’s cheeks (“So chubby! So cute!”), while the young prince spied on Ginger Spice (“another ginger”), wishing he was home in bed away from everyone. Reporters shouted questions at him throughout.
“The journalists didn’t care how I was doing, they were trying to get me to say something messy, new.” Instead, Harry smiled and then unexpectedly made his way to the Spice Girls concert, where he saw how his father nodded his head and tapped his foot to the beat.
“On the way home I said to myself, the whole trip was a blast. Not only a great adventure, but also a bonding experience with Pa.”
“My penis has been the subject of public records and indeed a public curiosity”
Just before his big brother’s wedding, Harry traveled to the North Pole with a group of wounded soldiers to raise money for charity. Little did he know that he should have avoided sweating during group activities, because when the temperature drops below 30 degrees, the moisture freezes instantly. He also didn’t make it to the Pole because the weather delayed the journey and he had to leave for the wedding.
Back at Clarence House, Harry had a pre-wedding dinner with his father, Prince William, and the two groomsmen. “The public was told I should be best man, but that was a blatant lie. …. Willy didn’t want me to give a best man speech.” Apparently the big brother didn’t trust the little brother to stick to the script. “He wasn’t wrong.”
Harry had something more pressing to worry about. On his journey he had noticed frostbite on his fingers and ears. “When I got home I was horrified to find my nether regions were also frozen, and while the ears and cheeks were already healing, the Todger wasn’t.”
After the wedding, Harry’s penis “oscillated between extremely sensitive and borderline traumatized.” Sitting, walking, and sex were all difficult or out of the question, and he had to see a doctor. “But I couldn’t ask the palace to get me one. Some courtier would get wind of my condition and leak it to the press, and the next thing I knew my Todge was all over the front pages.”
Harry finally booked an appointment with the help of a friend, snuck in through a back door with the help of his bodyguard, and told the doctor something along the lines of, “I’ve been to the North Pole and now my South Pole’s fucked up. ” The doctor told him that the partial penectomy he googled was probably unnecessary; the probable cure would be time. “Time, he said, heals. Really doctor? That was not my experience.”
That was during Harry’s ill-fated trip to Las Vegas in 2012. He and some buddies made their way to Sin City and threw themselves into a huge two-story suite with a grand staircase, an “elevator” and a pool table – the very one where he was photographed playing (and losing) a game of strip pool.
The trip was “a bit of a neon blur” as they all started drinking upon arrival and never really stopped. Then Harry, aka “Spike”, started thinking that a tattoo would make a good souvenir. “I went to find Billy the Rock” — one of his bodyguards — who immediately shut that down. But he couldn’t prevent what happened later that night.
The gang returned to the suite around 2 a.m., traveling with “four or five women who worked at the hotel … and two women they met at the blackjack table.” Harry started playing pool with his bodyguards. Then he noticed that the “blackjack girls” looked like they wanted to play too. They joined the game, although nobody was very good. “I suggested we raise the stakes. How about a round of strip pool?” Cheers from all around.
One of these blackjack girls had taken some photos – and sold them.
“I expected these shady girls to show some decency and now I would pay the price forever. Those photos would never go away.” Luckily, his army superiors didn’t care – and some soldiers even posed for their own snaps, “covering their privates with helmets, guns and berets” as a show of support before Harry went back to war in Afghanistan .
“Because rhinos, elephants, that’s mine”
Towards the end of 2015, Harry – who had been struggling with anxiety – was casually told by a therapist that he suffered from post-traumatic stress. So he tried therapy, meditation, psychedelics.
“I had experimented with them for fun over the years, but now I had started using them therapeutically and medicinally.” Under the influence of ayahuasca and psychedelic mushrooms, Harry was “able to let go of rigid prejudices and see that there was a… other world beyond my heavily filtered senses”.
Work helped too, and Harry wanted to work in Africa – but that was a problem for Prince William, who wanted Africa to himself and was willing to use his veto power as heir to the throne. Big Brother was upset that Harry was the one invited to the North Pole. “It was all so obvious. He cared less about finding his purpose or passion and more about winning his lifelong competition with me.”
But Harry continued with a four-month fact-finding tour of the African continent. In South Africa he participated in anti-poaching patrols to protect rhinos. He also assisted in a lengthy operation to fix the face of a rhino that had had its horn removed while sedated.
“She was Monica. And I was a Chandler’
In January 2016, Harry, a Friends fanboy, found himself with some buddies in Los Angeles, his future home. He was introduced to “real tequila, fancy smancy tequila” and I was schooled in all the many ways to drink it. The next day – no hangover thanks – they went to the house of Courteney Cox, who was friends with the girlfriend of one of his buddies.
“As a friends Fanatic, the idea of crashing at Monica was very tempting. And amusing. But then… Courteney showed up.” Would they have to leave? Courteney said no, of course not. Then she invited more people and the party started.
After three or four tequilas during the celebrations, Harry finally learned that the guy he had spoken to who seemed familiar was Will Arnett, the voice of Batman in The Lego Movie and its sequels. So of course he asked Arnett to do it. do the voice “He closed his eyes. He wanted to say no, but he didn’t want to be rude. Or he realized I wasn’t going to stop.” Then – “Hello Harry,‘ said Batman’s voice, tickling the prince to the core.
Will then led them to a fridge that contained, among other things, chocolates filled with mushrooms. Yes, such mushrooms. The actor grabbed a soft drink. Harry and his companion gave in.
Later, when Harry went to the bathroom, a trash can – the kind with a foot pedal to open it – suddenly turned into a head and then smiled at the prince after stepping on the pedal. “I laughed, turned away, pissed. Now the toilet has also become a head. The bowl was his gaping maw, the hinges of the seat were his piercing eyes. …. I finished, blushed, shut his mouth.” Giggling, he left the bathroom.
“I thought about petting them, but then I remembered I had a dead bird in each hand.”
Harry had been told that as sixth in line to the throne, he had to ask the Queen’s permission before proposing to Meghan Markle, a divorced woman. He decided to go get his grandmother alone during a family hunting trip. He only succeeded after the last drive of the day.
“I saw Grandma hop in her smaller Range Rover and drive into the middle of the stubble field. She started looking for dead birds while her dogs hunted.” Harry joined her, helping her collect birds and trying to strike up a conversation while his subconscious “rolled over” with thoughts of what he was going to do , if he could not marry his beloved.
But he managed to get the words out, telling Queen Elizabeth II that he loved Meg very much and wanted to marry her and had been told he had to ask her permission. “You need to?‘ asked the queen. Yes, Harry replied, her staff had told him so. His staff too.
“I stood perfectly still, as motionless as the birds in my hands. I stared at her face but it was unreadable. Finally she answered: Well, I guess I have to say yes then.”
Harry searched feverishly for some hidden meaning in what she had just said, then realised, “She says yes, you Muppet! She gives permission. Who cares how she phrases it, just know when to take a yes for an answer.
“How can you really describe light? Even Einstein had a problem with that.’
This passage from the book’s introduction is among the richest written in the pages of Spare. It is presented here without elaboration because no one wants to upset a boy who expresses his love for his late mother.
“Recently,” Harry wrote, “astronomers rearranged their largest telescopes, aimed them at a tiny fissure in the cosmos, and managed to catch a glimpse of a stunning sphere they named Earendel, the Old English word for morning star. Billions of miles away and likely long gone, Earendel is closer to the Big Bang, the moment of creation, than our own Milky Way, yet somehow it’s still visible to mortal eyes simply because it’s so incredibly bright and dazzling.
“That was my mother.”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2023-01-11/prince-harry-book-spare-random-anecdotes Explanation of the strangest quotes from Prince Harry’s memoir “Spare”