Spare us, spare them, and spare yourself, Harry. “Spare,” Prince Harry’s revenge on his family, the media, the horsey older woman who deflowered him in a field behind a busy pub and anyone who has ever treated him as the spare to Prince William’s heir, is literary self-harm. Every time Harry Plotter the half-wit prince puts the knife into his brother, the fumbling assassin falls on his own blade. Call it Harry-kiri.
Harry has already rejected his homeland and attacked his people. He has slandered the House of Windsor as institutionally racist. He has, as his Netflix exposé showed, lost his old friends without gaining any new ones. Now he has attacked his father, Charles III, and his brother, Prince William, the future king. There can be no way back from this.
Confucius said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” One for your enemy and one for yourself. Harry is so busy shoveling on the rage and self-pity, he seems unaware he is burying himself alive.
It’s a grave matter, fighting with your own blood. Your brother is the person most like you in the world. William is the only person who knows what it felt like for Harry to lose his mother, Diana, to walk behind her coffin in front of the world, to go on alone without her and to face the same barrage of flashbulbs in the line of duty.
“In some things he was my mirror,” Harry reflects, “in others my polar opposite. My dear brother, my archenemy.”
By his own admission, William too struggled with grief and anger. But William was born with one crowning advantage, and that made all the difference. He is the first-born, a once and future king from his first breath. Harry was conceived and raised as a form of life insurance — insuring, that is, the royal family against William’s early demise. This medieval compact underlay the union of Charles and Diana.
“Wonderful! Now you’ve given me an Heir and a Spare — my work is done,” Harry quotes Charles as saying. Harry concedes that this was “A joke. Presumably.” Then the knife goes in: “minutes after delivering this bit of high comedy, Pa was said to have gone off to meet with his girlfriend.”
Charles’ girlfriend then was the love of his life, Camilla Parker Bowles. She too is a horsey older woman, though presumably not the one who deflowered Harry in a field behind a pub. She is now the Queen Consort and Harry’s stepmother. In the old days, turbulent princes who behaved like Harry ended up with their heads on a spike. Some might prefer that to a life sentence in Montecito with Meghan Markle.
In the days of yore when knights contended for the favor of the fair Lady Diana, it was Harry’s father who was the heir and Prince Andrew the spare. The heir dresses up as a soldier or sailor, but the spare sees active service. Charles flunked out of basic training, but Harry tells us he toughed it out when he developed trench foot and graduated.
Inside Harry’s new memoir
William flew helicopter air-sea rescue missions — not for the faint-hearted, admittedly — but Andrew and Harry flew the real thing, in combat. Both Andrew and Harry have admitted to struggling with PTSD, Andrew after being busted as one of Jeffrey Epstein’s older playmates, Harry in the voluntary, self-lacerating way of the TikTok therapy addict.
Harry was William’s best man. When Harry tells us he killed 25 Taliban in Afghanistan, he’s telling William he’s the better man, too. No wonder William pulled rank on “Harold” when he told him that Meghan was trouble. No wonder Harry believes that “Willy” just doesn’t get it.
Harry claims he threw it all away for the love of Meghan, but “Spare” shows he is driven by resentment. He gripes that Charles and William flew on separate private jets for reasons of safety, but “no one gave a damn whom I traveled with.” He wants us to know that his half of their suite at Balmoral Castle was “less luxurious” than William’s. He complains that at boarding school, it was “confusing as hell” to receive a “slow and luxurious rinse” from the “hot” matrons.
Diana’s death flipped Harry’s script from comedy to tragedy. He reveres her memory, even if she too called him “Spare.” The most moving passages in this misbegotten memoir are not Harry’s strategic sneers at his father and brother but his admissions of endless pain at Diana’s loss. When he calls her “indescribable,” you wonder if he ever knew her at all. “Spare” is not so much ghostwritten as haunted.
Harry pretends that Diana is not dead. He summons her return in his dreams. He slides into smoking weed, binge drinking and snorting cocaine. He suffers panic attacks and depression. The click of a camera leaves him “out of commission for a full day.”
He retraces Diana’s last journey into that tunnel in Paris and hints that she was murdered. He sees a medium, who praises his aura and feeds him imaginary messages from Diana. He fantasizes that the logistical delays holding up Charles’ remarriage to Camilla are due to cosmic interference from the Universe or “Mummy . . . blocking rather than blessing their union.”
Harry believes he has found himself, but “Spare” shows he has lost the plot. He will now lose everything else. When you come for the king, you’d better not miss.
Dominic Green is a Wall Street Journal contributor and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Find him on Twitter @drdominicgreen.