Prince Harry ‘Spare’ Book Summary: Prince William, Kate Middleton, Charles Stories
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It’s one of the most hotly anticipated memoirs in history and some of the details of Prince Harry’s Spare book were leaked a week ahead of its release, revealing intimate details of a shockingly dysfunctional, sometimes even physically violent, British royal family.
Released on January 10, 2023, some news outlets gained advanced access to the Duke of Sussex’s fiercely protected autobiography, discovering how Harry’s relationships with certain family members, including his brother Prince William, had severely broken down after the younger prince’s marriage to Meghan Markle.
The title, Spare, derives from the aristocratic phrase “the heir and the spare” which refers to Harry’s position as the second boy in what is ultimately a patriarchal monarchy. In her now-infamous interview with the BBC’s Martin Bashir in 1995, Harry’s late mother Princess Diana said she felt “enormous relief” when she learned her first baby was male, even more so when she had a second. “Fortunately, it was two boys… William, his future being as it is and Harry, like a form of a backup in that aspect.” Here are all the shocking details from Prince Harry’s Spare autobiography.
Harry claims his ‘beloved brother’ and ‘archnemesis’ William physically attacked him
In one of the most explosive sections of the book, obtained by The Guardian, Harry detailed a confrontation with William that took place in his London home in 2019. William called Harry’s wife Meghan “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”, the prince wrote, which Harry dubbed a “parrot[ing of] the press narrative” about his American wife, as countless media headlines accused Markle of such things with quotes anonymous royal insiders and unidentified palace staff.
Harry said he expected his brother to be better than repeating the press’s narrative, but the two men ended up shouting at each other. The exchange escalated further in aggression and Harry, seeming to want things to cool down, gave his brother a glass of water and allegedly said, “Willy, I can’t speak to you when you’re like this.” Then, Harry wrote: “He set down the water, called me another name, then came at me. It all happened so fast. So very fast. He grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor. I landed on the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me. I lay there for a moment, dazed, then got to my feet and told him to get out.”
William apparently left but returned shortly after “looking regretful and apologized,” adding that William said: “You don’t need to tell Meg about this.” “You mean that you attacked me?” “I didn’t attack you, Harold.” Harry wrote that he didn’t immediately tell his wife but he did call his therapist instead. “We’d had a million physical fights in our lives, I told her,” he wrote. “As boys we’d done nothing but fight. But this felt different.” Meghan eventually noticed the “scrapes and bruises” on his back and Harry came clean about their scuffle. She “wasn’t surprised and wasn’t all that angry,” Harry wrote, but “she was terribly sad”. It’s little wonder that in Spare, Harry refers to William as both his “beloved brother” and “archnemesis”.
Harry claims William “mocked” his anxiety
Harry also discussed how William allegedly made light of his brother’s deteriorating mental health. In a Spare excerpt published by Us Weekly, Harry wrote: “I was an agoraphobe. Which was nearly impossible given my public role. After one speech, which couldn’t be avoided or canceled, and during which I’d nearly fainted, Willy came up to me backstage. Laughing,” the Duke of Sussex claimed. “‘Harold! Look at you! You’re drenched.’”
Harry said he “couldn’t fathom” his brother’s reaction. “Him of all people. He’d been present for my very first panic attack. With Kate [Middleton]. We were driving out to a polo match in Gloucestershire, in their Range Rover. I was in the back and Willy peered at me in the rearview. He saw me sweating, red-faced,” he continued. “‘You all right, Harold?’ No, I wasn’t. It was a trip of several hours and every few miles I wanted to ask him to pull over so I could jump out and try to catch my breath.”
Harry recalled William had known “something bad” was going on with him mentally, adding “He’d told me that day or soon after that I needed help. And now he was teasing me? I couldn’t imagine how he could be so insensitive.” But Harry admitted he “was at fault too” when it came to the brother’s crumbling relationship. “Both of us should’ve known better, should’ve recognized my crumbling emotional and mental states for what they were, because we’d just started to discuss the launching of a public campaign to raise awareness around mental health.”
King Charles made “sadistic” jokes about Harry’s “real father”
As the second child of Princess Diana, Harry grew up with rumors that his true father was her former lover, Major James Hewitt and not of the now-King Charles. In Spare, Harry accounted how his father appeared to enjoy making jokes about Harry’s parentage. “Pa liked telling stories, and this was one of the best in his repertoire. He’d always end with a burst of philosophizing … Who knows if I’m really the Prince of Wales? Who knows if I’m even your real father?” per Page Six.
“He’d laugh and laugh, though it was a remarkably unfunny joke, given the rumor circulating just then that my actual father was one of Mummy’s former lovers: Major James Hewitt. One cause of this rumor was Major Hewitt’s flaming ginger hair, but another cause was sadism.”
Charles never spoke with Harry directly about the rumors, but the prince speculated in Spare that gossip fiends loved the idea that Charles was not really Harry’s dad. “Maybe it made them feel better about their lives that a young prince’s life was laughable. Never mind that my mother didn’t meet Major Hewitt until long after I was born,” he added.
Harry claims William and Kate told him to wear the infamous Nazi costume
When Harry was 20, he made headlines around the world for wearing a Nazi costume to a party, his arm emblazoned with a swastika band. The photo, published by The Sun (see the front page here), was taken as a “native and colonial” theme shindig that William also attended.
In Spare, Harry claims William and Kate, who in 2005 were six years away from marriage, encouraged him to wear the costume. According to an excerpt of the autobiography, obtained by Page Six, Harry detailed: “I phoned Willy and Kate, asked what they thought. Nazi uniform, they said… They both howled [with laughter]. Worse than Willy’s leotard outfit! Way more ridiculous! Which, again, was the point.”
Although the former Duke called the incident “one of the biggest mistakes in my life,” one senior publishing source who read Harry’s book told Page Six: “It’s strange as you would think that Harry would take ownership of this and just move on and not drag his brother into it, but he makes it clear that he feels strongly about William’s role in the scandal.”
Harry urged Charles not to marry “wicked stepmother” Camilla
In Princess Diana’s now-infamous tell-all interview with the BBC, she said of Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” Prince Harry has never spoken publicly about their affair or his now-stepmother, but in Spare, he revealed he and William urged his father not to marry her in 2005.
In an excerpt published by Page Six, Harry wrote: “Despite Willy and me urging him not to, Pa was going ahead. We pumped his hand, wished him well. No hard feelings. We recognized that he was finally going to be with the woman he loved, the woman he’d always loved.” He continued: “Fate might’ve intended for him in the first place. Whatever bitterness or sorrow we felt over the closing of another loop in Mummy’s story, we understood that it was besides the point… I remember wondering … if she would be cruel to me; if she would be like all the evil stepmothers in the stories.” He added: “Willy had been suspicious of the Other Woman for a long time, which confused and tormented him. When those suspicions were confirmed, he felt agonizing remorse for not having done or said anything before.”
Meghan Markle was “reprimanded” for saying Kate, pregnant with Prince Louis, “must have baby brain”
Rumors of a rift between Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, and Prince Williams’s wife, Kate Middleton, have swirled for years. In Spare, the Duke of Sussex confirmed there is truth to the row, detailing how in the lead-up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding, Meghan told Kate she “must have baby brain because of her hormones”.
According to a source quoted in the Daily Mail, Harry wrote “that there was a discussion about the timing of the wedding rehearsal and the flower girl dresses and Kate was very upset. Meghan said that Kate must have ‘baby brain’ because of her hormones.” The comment “caused a huge row because Meghan was told that she wasn’t close enough to her sister-in-law to discuss her hormones and it wasn’t the way people spoke to each other within the Royal Family.” The source continued that “the book makes clear that Meghan felt the fall-out wasn’t her fault, but it doesn’t exactly make her look very good either.”
When Oprah asked if reports were true that she had made Kate cry during the couple’s bombshell interview in 2021, Meghan replied saying “the reverse happened.” She added: “It made me cry and it really hurt my feelings. It was a really hard week of the wedding and she was upset about something but she owned it and she apologized.”
Harry thought William was “gone forever” after his marriage to Kate
The oldest son of Diana and Charles’ and therefore heir to the British throne, William’s marriage to Kate Middleton was one of the most anticipated royal weddings since his parents tied the knot in 1981.
But marriage can change permanently alter the dynamics of those around the couple, something that Harry detailed in Spare. He described Kate and William’s marriage in 2011 as “yet another farewell under this horrid roof” and “another sundering” at Westminster Abbey. “The brother I’d escorted into Westminster Abbey that morning was gone—forever. Who could deny it?” he wrote in an excerpt obtained by Us Weekly. “He’d never again be first a foremost Willy. We’d never again ride together across the Lesotho countryside with capes blowing behind us. We’d never again share a horsey-smelling cottage while learning to fly. Who shall separate us? Life, that’s who.”
He continued that he didn’t remember much about the ceremony or being his brother’s best man—it’s “mostly a blank” in his mind—but “I recall Willy walking her back up the aisle, and as they disappeared through the door, into the carriage that would convey them to Buckingham Palace, into the eternal partnership they’d pledged, I recall thinking: ‘Goodbye’,” he wrote.
Harry watched his wife Meghan’s sex scenes in Suits and it “was a mistake”
Every member of a couple feels jealousy from time to time, but the difference in marrying an actor is that they’re frequently intimate with fellow actors on-screen, even if it’s totally fake. In his autobiography Spare, Prince Harry admitted to watching his then-girlfriend Meghan Markle in Suits, the show that launched her into fame.
In an excerpt obtained by Page Six, Harry wrote that he needed “electric-shock therapy” to get her sex scenes out of his head. Soon after they started dating, Harry said he’d made “the mistake of Googling and watching some of her love scenes online”. “I’d witnessed her and a castmate mauling each other in some sort of office or conference room. I didn’t need to see such things live.”
Markle played the character Rachel Zane on the legal comedy/drama for seven seasons and apparently, William and Kate were fans of the show. In Spare, Harry wrote “Willy and Kate explained that they were regular—nay, religious—viewers of Suits,” and was not expecting them to “barrage” him with questions about her. “All this time I’d thought Willy and Kate might not welcome Meg into the family, but now I had to worry about them hounding her for an autograph,” the prince explained.
For more about Prince Harry, read his upcoming memoir, Spare. Told for the first time in his own words, the book takes readers through the Duke of Sussex’s life with the British royal family, from the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 to how the moment led to his decision decades later to move to America with his wife, Meghan Markle, and leave Buckingham Palace for good in 2020. “With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief,” the publisher’s description reads.
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