One thing that I know for sure about the Royal Family is that everyone has an opinion. Mostly differing. Beyond that, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what is as made up as a Walt Disney fairytale. As Americans, we’ve only “known” the House of Windsor from across the pond and through the tabloids. The over the top weddings we set early alarms to watch, the baby announcements outside the hospital eagerly awaiting a name, and being able to pinpoint precisely where we were when we heard the news of Princess Diana’s passing (THS Student parking lot after a tennis tournament for me) are the basis of our royal lexicon.
“I heard the story of what Pa allegedly said to Mummy the day of my birth: Wonderful! Now you’ve given me an Heir and a Spare—my work is done. A joke. Presumably. On the other hand, minutes after delivering this bit of high comedy, Pa was said to have gone off to meet with his girlfriend. So. Many a true word spoken in jest.”― Prince Harry, Spare
Spare by Prince Harry is the book I chose to review for February, and while I wouldn’t put it at the top of my celebrity memoir list, I enjoyed it and look forward to hearing what my book club has to say about it in a few days. The book is broken up into three parts: early childhood and the aftermath of coming to terms with the death of his mother, war stories from his military service, and searching for his place in the hierarchy of his adult life inside the Royal Family and the real world. I’ve heard from a few people that part 2 seemed stagnate, but to me it was fascinating and at times hard to imagine a Prince in a Blackhawk.
“But another part of me felt hugely ambitious. People assumed that the Spare wouldn’t or shouldn’t have any ambition. People assumed that royals generally had no career desires or anxieties. You’re royal, everything’s done for you, why worry? But in fact I worried quite a lot about making my own way, finding my purpose in this world. I didn’t want to be one of those cocktail-slurping, eyeroll-causing sloths everyone avoided at family gatherings. There had been plenty of those in my family, going back centuries.” —Prince Harry, Spare
While reading I noted major Truman Show vibes in learning about The Royal Rota (British media hired to cover the Royal Family) and saw how the paparazzi are masters at twisting everyday life into juicy tabloid fodder to entice readers into buying and believing. I know I should take headlines with a grain of salt, but there is a reason they call it click bait. The overwhelming theme of the book to me was to uncover the dark history of the unrelenting lies spewing from the British media and how they have ruined lives and in the case of his mother, ended a few. Even among the members of the family you get the impression that it’s hard for them to remember where reality ends and make believe begins.
“Maybe money sits at the heart of every controversy about monarchy. Britain has long had trouble making up its mind. Many support the Crown, but many also feel anxious about the cost. That anxiety is increased by the fact that the cost is unknowable. Depends on who’s crunching the numbers. Does the Crown cost taxpayers? Yes. Does it also pay a fortune into government coffers? Also yes. Does the Crown generate tourism income that benefits all? Of course. Does it also rest upon lands obtained and secured when the system was unjust and wealth was generated by exploited workers and thuggery, annexation and enslaved people? Can anyone deny it? According to the last study I saw, the monarchy costs the average taxpayer the price of a pint each year. In light of its many good works that seems a pretty sound investment. But no one wants to hear a prince argue for the existence of a monarchy, any more than they want to hear a prince argue against it. I leave cost-benefit analyses to others. My emotions are complicated on this subject, naturally, but my bottom-line position isn’t. I’ll forever support my Queen, my Commander in Chief, my Granny. Even after she’s gone. My problem has never been with the monarchy, nor the concept of monarchy. It’s been with the press and the sick relationship that’s evolved between it and the Palace. I love my Mother Country, and I love my family, and I always will. I just wish, at the second-darkest moment of my life, they’d both been there for me. And I believe they’ll look back one day and wish they had too.”― Prince Harry, Spare
I tried to shorten that quote, but it was too encompassing. Spare is worth your time, and I trust it will shed new light on the institution and the Prince. If you’re curious, I recommend you check it out. Perhaps you’ll form a new opinion in the process and I hope you’ll share it with me when our paths cross.