Sometimes I just wish I could turn off the news. The media is exhausting sometimes.
In recent years, we have experienced a huge shift in how digital media (and old-school media) report the news. Or at least, maybe we have seen behind the curtains a little bit.
If I am going to be truly honest, I did not buy Prince Harry's new book "Spare" because I am particularly interested in what he has to say, or the ins and outs of his family. The reason I read the book was to bridge the gap between what the media was saying, and what the book actually says. I just find it interesting how far the media can take something out of context and get away with it ... I also had FOMO.
FYI - You can pick up the book on Amazon or get it for free if you sign up for Audible. Well worth it.
So, let me review some aspects of the book and see what I thought of it.
The book itself, I believe, is very unlikely to have been written by Harry himself. I am not commenting on his intellectual ability, but I think somebody under his level of scrutiny will have a team of legal advisors, ghostwriters and editors to ensure they protect themselves from the frantic hoards of copywriter journalists.
The book is Prince Harry's memoir. It is, in my mind, quite a revealing look into the bizarre world of a British Royal and the way in which the members of the institution look out from their life inside the metaphorical (Harry's own words) fishbowl. It is not so much what he says, but how he is saying it. From details about his SAS-style planning of undercover shopping trips, avoiding girls with 'Thrown Syndrome" and hiding his true lifestyle (he loves a puff) within his own family.
He is clearly an isolated man with a warped sense of reality - solely thanks to his life as a Royal.
It seems to be an attempt to reveal the "under-belly" of life as a figure of extreme significance where every move he makes is subject to criticism and his every action is coveted by a team of PR experts. It moves to somewhat dispel the 'cleaner than clean' smoke-sceen which surrounds (most) of the Royal establishment. He talks about his drug use, and misadventures and goes into (maybe too much) detail about his sexual exploits and use of his mother's favourite lip-balm (Yech *shudders*).
One of the passages which stood out to me was his words about his time in the forces. It is also where the media, in my mind, have been shown up as hypocritical, dangerous parasites, greedy for attention. Many outlets claimed that he boasted about killing people during his service but the book reads very differently.
His account of his work in Afghanistan, and his ponderings on a life of killing, are quite touching. His words seem to be considered, frank and deeply personal. I must say that from my knowledge of armed forces personnel, this passage is taboo, and will be considered as a significant blunder, and is likely to cause him trouble (if not put his safety at significant risk) in the future. He is unlikely to have won many friends within the forces community here.
As you may also expect, every line of the book is darkened with the shadow of the death of Harry's mother, Princess Diana. In the book, he goes on at great length about how her death has affected his life, and in many ways, it is what he doesn't say that reveals how much her death really has.
He blames the media for her misery, her death and the years of torture he was subjected to after the fact. We all know he hates the press, but in the book he specifically mentions Rupert Murdoch. The writing of that section just shows how much Harry despises him. I think that the coverage of "Spare" has really shown that he is mostly correct in his assertions.
His words about his father are surprisingly less volatile than you may expect. He represents the current King as a gentle, out-of-touch, oldie rather than a mean, unloving father. The King is surprisingly tender, but the young Harry seemingly cannot see his actions as such.
Harry has been called out online about discrepancies in the book - one being where he was when he learned about the death of his great-grandmother, the queen's mother. He mentions in the book that he was at School in Eton, yet other sources claim he was skiing with his family. How could you get that wrong?
To me, this is more evidence that the book was ghostwritten and potentially not thoroughly checked by Harry himself. It does throw the whole aspect of 'truth' into doubt - and consider that the controversial royal pair is known for one or two bizarre factual blunders.
I suspect that the book has been carefully constructed by teams of media and PR experts in an attempt to humanise what many see as an out-of-touch, posh boy who has no concept of reality. In many ways, the book feels like it is proving that he may just be that.
Overall, I have to say that the book is not going to be on my top ten most recommended list. To me, it is an attempt at a provocative pulling back on the curtains of the Royal, but it comes across as like a rambling ranty entry into a diary after a glass or two of wine. It is very clear that this book has been written by a committee (potentially from Harry's therapy notes).
It is a strange attempt at humanising a man who has never been able to control the narrative about himself. In honesty, I do feel for him. But I'm not sure I will care very much in a week or so.
I also feel that the book didn't really need to be written. Prince Harry isn't somebody who has yet achieved anything worthy of note, he has not changed millions of lives or offered an insight that is particularly unique.
These are the words of memoir from a deeply sad, isolated individual trapped in a world of unusual privilege coming to terms with the point of his existence.
What the book has revealed is the prying profit-lead approach of the world's news media. They are not interested in truth, just content, clicks and ad revenue.