Opinion |  Post Elizabeth: 5 things we know about Prince Harry's memoir

Opinion | Post Elizabeth: 5 things we know about Prince Harry’s memoir

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One picture may be worth a thousand words, but the one-word title of Prince Harry’s forthcoming memoir was enough to ignite social media when details of the much-awaited book dropped this week. Harry’s story is called “Spare,” a play on the royal dynamic of “an heir and a spare” — and Harry’s unofficial role as backup to his older brother, Prince William, the heir to the throne.

The internet seized on the “power and the pathos of one word,” as one royal commentator tweeted Thursday. The arresting cover photo (reportedly taken by Ramona Rosales, who also photographed Harry’s wife, Meghan, for Variety) sparked chatter too. But amid speculation of a tell-all, the question remains: Will this book say anything we don’t already know?

As you would expect, Penguin Random House is busy stoking the memoir as “remarkably personal and emotionally powerful.” And as of Friday morning, “Spare” sits atop Amazon’s bestseller list.

But let’s take a moment to consider all that we actually know.

1. After a lot of uncertainty about timing, Harry’s memoir will be released Jan. 10. The price point — $36 retail — is well above the average hardcover price. The book will be published in 16 languages. (The Spanish title, “Spare: En La Sombra,” translates as “Spare: Life in the Shadows,” Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reports.)

2. Harry is giving away some share of the profits. The multi-book deal reportedly generated an advance in the range of $20 million. A publisher statement says Harry “wishes to support British charities with donations from his proceeds.” It’s unclear how much he may ultimately earn or distribute. He has already given $1.5 million to Sentebale, a charity he co-founded in 2006 to help youth in Lesotho and Botswana affected by HIV/AIDS, the statement said.

3. The book is 416 pages. The prince is narrating the audio version.

4. The prince had writing help. “Harry is working with the acclaimed ghostwriter JR Moehringer, who won accolades for his work on the autobiography of the tennis player Andre Agassi, and is known for probing the tensions inherent in father-son relationships,” the New York Times reports. Moehringer, who reportedly received his own million-dollar advance, is a former Times journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2000. (The Telegraph notes that Moehringer has worked on at least three biographies with one-word titles.)

5. Until someone gets their hands on a bootleg copy, we can only speculate about the contents. The 2021 announcement quoted Harry as saying: “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become.” Cue frenzied speculation (and reported palace dread) about what he might reveal. Would the prince criticize stepmother Camilla, whom his mother, Princess Diana, famously derided as the third person in her marriage? Or elaborate on the family tensions — and those accusations of racist remarks — that he and Meghan disclosed in their Oprah Winfrey interview? “The decision to write a tell-all autobiography has been branded a ‘moneymaking exercise at the expense of his blood family,'” the Daily Mail huffed last summer.

Although books about the royals are common, books by royals are much less so. The publisher’s book site recalls Harry and William walking behind Diana’s coffin in 1997: “Billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling — and how their lives would play out from that point on. For Harry, this is that story at last.” Whatever Penguin says about the book’s “raw, unflinching honesty,” remember: The publisher has an advance to recoup. On the other hand, the frustrations Harry has shared — his father stopped taking his calls as Harry sought to negotiate his 2020 exit from royal life — make it clear that the only thing muzzling him at this point is his own judgment.

Royal roles questioned: The status of Harry and his uncle Prince Andrew as designated stand-ins for the monarch has been questioned in Parliament. Neither prince is a “working” royal; Harry famously stepped back from official duties in 2020, and Andrew was yanked off stage in 2019 amid a backlash to a “nuclear explosion level bad” interview about his association with financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Yet by virtue of their age and position in the line of succession, both remain counselors of state under the Regency Act, which puts them among the handful of people who can step in for the monarch if he is abroad or incapacitated. The princes’ status as potential stand-ins was raised in the House of Lords this week, People magazine reports, with one member suggesting the king consider a “sensible amendment” to update the act. Royal biographer Robert Hardman predicts in the Daily Mail that a proposal will come before Parliament, “possibly within weeks,” to expand the group of counselors to include the king’s sister, Princess Anne, and youngest brother, Prince Edward.

Majestic flashback: The November issue of British Vogue includes a collection of tributes to the late Queen Elizabeth II. We particularly enjoyed Jordan’s Queen Rania reflecting on “an icon in sensible shoes.” And this: Julie Andrews confessing to being “almost speechless” when, as she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire, the queen told her, “I’ve been waiting a long time to see you here.”

Inside Althorp: The Spencer family’s ancestral home is opening its doors — at least virtually. The wife of Princess Diana’s younger brother Charles announced a video series exploring the Althorp estate and artifacts, People magazine reports.

“If I’m honest,” Karen, Countess Spencer, says in a trailer for the production, called “Spencer 1508,” “I initially sort of rejected the full-time nature of this role.” But being chatelaine of the 514-year-old grand home grew on her. “I thought that this whole house was lovely, but that wasn’t going to take up very much of my time. I will confess that it, it has sucked me in.”

The countess is Charles’s third wife; the couple married at the Althorp estate in 2011. “We’re trying to make this place accessible to those who won’t ever have a chance to visit here,” Charles says in another trailer.

Diana is buried at the estate in a location off-limits to the public.

Richer than the royals: For the first time, the residents of 10 Downing Street may be wealthier than those of Buckingham Palace, writes Post London correspondent Karla Adam. The annual Sunday Times Rich List estimates the wealth of Britain’s new prime minister, former banker Rishi Sunak, and his wife, Indian tech heiress Akshata Murty, around 730 million pounds ($830 million). (The couple are in a three-way tie for ranking No. 222 on this year’s list.) By comparison, Queen Elizabeth’s net worth was estimated at about 370 million pounds ($420 million) before her death. If that sounds low, it’s because the monarch doesn’t personally “own” all of the jewels and castles associated with the royal family but is custodian of gems and properties that belong to the crown.

Prime details: Here’s a Post slideshow on the 15 prime ministers who spanned Elizabeth’s seven-decade reign. (Among our favorite nuggets was this one drawn from Ben Pimlott’s “The Queen: Elizabeth II and the Monarchy”: that Harold Wilson, Elizabeth’s first prime minister from the Labor Party, and a politician with socialist leanings, “behaved towards her — unexpectedly — as an equal, and talked to her as if she were a member of his Cabinet.”)

The Royal Parks reports that hundreds of teddy bears left among floral tributes to Queen Elizabeth are being cleaned and donated. A week after the funeral, volunteers began removing floral tributes to be composted and reused around park properties.

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