Omid Scobie’s weekly Yahoo UK column came out on Friday, so that’s why we’re a little late getting to it. The column is about Prince Harry’s memoir Spare, of which Scobie seemingly has insider information about. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Scobie has read a draft already, but maybe he simply has information from Team Sussex and/or Penguin Random House. If I was part of the Sussex operation, I would leak sh-t to Scobie, that’s all I’ll say. Some highlights from Scobie’s column.
The freakout over the memoir being called ‘Spare’: “Royal sources” (aka anonymous palace aides), media pundits and newspapers wasted no time sharing breathless outrage after publisher Penguin Random House revealed the tome’s title, steely-faced cover and January 10 release date. “Malevolent”, “cruel”, “playing the victim once again”, and, quelle surprise, “all Meghan’s doing”, were just some of the angered reactions.
Harry decided to call his memoir ‘Spare’ early in the process: Of course, calling the book SPARE – a decision made by Prince Harry early on in the process – shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise. It’s a punchy choice, but for a word that has trailed the prince like a shadow, being the spare was one of the most defining aspects of his royal existence. Leaning on the derogatory moniker for a title is Harry finally owning the term after a lifetime of being called it.
What being the spare entails: Harry had to be the royal support act at an early age. With no real defined job, The Firm mostly needed one thing from him: to support his more important older brother, Prince William. It’s a bizarre and somewhat cruel existence — the outcome of a system built on hereditary privilege. And in many cases it’s also a curse…A spare also carries a purpose rarely acknowledged by any royal or palace official — the resident scapegoat to protect the Crown and higher ranking family members. Collateral damage when blame or distraction is needed. To those who have followed the royal beat closely enough, the coincidental timing of certain revelations or stories about Harry have already highlighted this. It’ll be interesting to see how SPARE — which doesn’t shy away from this specific burden — describes these moments.
What ‘Spare’ is actually like as a memoir: Among those who have already had sight of the book’s manuscript, Harry’s journey of being the spare, plus that difficult decision to change his destiny and start a new life elsewhere, serve as significant parts of the book. Filled with the prince’s trademark cheekiness, this memoir also tells a surprisingly relatable life story. Sure, its opulent royal backdrop is far beyond a world any of us will ever know, but themes explored in SPARE should resonate with readers from all backgrounds.
Does Harry trash the Windsors or what? For all the tabloid reports about Harry supposedly “trashing” his family (spoiler alert: he doesn’t), the book actually offers a more sympathetic look at the realities of their near-impossible existence. There were also no last-minute rewrites or edits after the Queen’s death. SPARE’s manuscript was completed almost five months before the monarch’s passing, a detail that will be acknowledged in a note at the start of the book.
The palace is still freaking out: No matter how carefully Harry shares the parts of his story involving others, there is still the very real risk of serious blowback from the institution and family. Palace aides recently told me about the “genuine fear” amongst senior members that this book will cause irrevocable damage to reputations and relations. But, for Harry, SPARE’s larger intention appears to make that risk worth taking.
“Palace aides recently told me about the ‘genuine fear’ amongst senior members that this book will cause irrevocable damage to reputations and relations.” As with so many things over the past three years, the palace aides have no one to blame but themselves. Whenever Harry and Meghan do or say anything, however mild, however good-intentioned, however light-footed, the palace aides declare DefCon 2 and throw a month-long tantrum in the British media. The palace aides and the Windsors have set themselves up to scandalized and torn asunder no matter what Harry and Meghan say or do, thus Spare will arrive on Salt Island’s shores like a bomb.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about timing and what’s going to happen in the lead-up to the release of Spare. I’ve been thinking about the royal Christmas at Sandringham and how the palaces are going to pace out their attacks on Harry, clearly before they even know what’s in Spare. My prediction is that immediately post-Christmas, the Windsors will drop a wall-to-wall campaign against Harry. Christmas falls on a Sunday this year – I suspect that December 26th will be the start of a “pre-Oprah-interview” level campaign against Harry and Meghan. It won’t just be about attacking Harry, remember. They’ll go after Meghan too, because they hate her and blame her for “taking away Harry.”
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.