PRINCE Harry’s highly anticipated memoir was released on Tuesday and the 416-page book gained varied reactions from critics worldwide.
The Duke of Sussex’s book ‘Spare,’ released on January 10, tackles Harry’s life as a royalty — from childhood, the death of his mother, his stint in the British army, and his married life.
According to the book’s synopsis, Spare gave Harry the opportunity to tell his side of story for the first time, “chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty.”
“A landmark publication, Spare is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.” it read.
The heir and the spare
The non-fiction book’s title came from what King Charles allegedly told Princess Diana when the second royal prince was born.
“Wonderful! Now you’ve given me an heir and a spare – my work is done,” the prince recalled his father Charles as saying.
This is in reference to an old saying in royal and aristocratic circles that labels a first son as an heir to titles, fortune, and power, while the second son serves as a “spare” if anything happens to the first-born.
According to The Guardian, Spare tackles the “torment of a royal in the age of the smartphone and Instagram; a torment of a different order from even that suffered by his mother, and certainly by Princess Margaret, forbidden from marrying the man she loved by her own sister.”
Sold 1.43 million copies
Despite the leak of snippets of the novel prior to its scheduled release, Spare still broke records for its publisher during its first day on the market.
Published in 16 languages, the book sold over 1.43 million copies across all formats in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Penguin Random House reported that Spare was recorded as its fastest selling nonfiction book during its first-day release with sales.
“The first full day of sales of SPARE represents the largest first-day sales total for any nonfiction book ever published by Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade publisher,” it wrote.
Spare was also reported to have returned to the press for its second printing after the first batch. Two million copies had been sold out in the US.
Harry’s ‘weird’ lifestyle
Critics have varying opinions regarding the highly-anticipated memoir from the royalty.
According to Vulture, Spare is the “literary equivalent of the tea going cold and the crumpets being a bit too stale,” pertaining to the high amount of royalty drama explicitly described and narrated in Harry’s account.
Spare included bits of Harry’s “weird” lifestyle, as described by BBC. It talked about his frostbitten penis and his experience of losing his virginity in a local pub, among others.
“It’s disarmingly frank and intimate – showing the sheer weirdness of his often isolated life. And it’s the small details, rather than the set-piece moments, that give a glimpse of how little we really knew,” BBC wrote.
The British Broadcasting Corporation regarded Spare as “the strangest book ever written by a royal,” noting that the memoir was a mixture of confessions, rants, and love letters from the prince.
“Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, is part confession, part rant and part love letter,” BBC wrote in a review. “In places it feels like the longest angry drunk text ever sent.”
Time praised ghost writer
BBC also noted Harry’s ignorance toward the real world, saying that although the book gave light to the dimness of the royal life, “it remains strangely silent on any views about the outside world, even though he’s no longer a working royal.”
Meanwhile, Time Magazine praised Spare’s ghostwriter, former newspaperman and Pulitzer prize winner for feature writing J.R. Moehringer, for his “impressive writing propels the reader quickly through the 416-page book.”
The American news magazine also mentioned that the memoir was filled with “lyrical meditations.” It cited William Shakespeare and other classical references that were used to describe Harry’s lonely childhood that came after his beloved mother’s death and his father’s unintentional parenting negligence.
Time also commended Spare for its possession of both mundane and weighty details — from the depiction of King Charles’ everyday physical therapy in the form of a headstand in his undergarments, to the fact that “it was made explicitly clear to the boys from birth that if William got sick, Harry, as the spare, might need to provide a ‘spare part’—a kidney or bone marrow—to save the heir.”
While the novel may be imperfect in many aspects, Time argues that Spare is unflinching, introspective, and well-written.
The Buckingham Palace has not released any statement on Harry’s book.