- Daniela Relph and Bernadette Kitterick
- Royal Correspondents, BBC News
On January 10, “Spare” (“O que Sobra”, in the Portuguese edition), the highly anticipated and controversial autobiography of Prince Harry, went on sale.
In the book, the son of the current King Charles III recounts various aspects of his personal life: his childhood, the death of his mother, his rebellious youth, the troubled estrangement from the royal family after his marriage to the actress Meghan Markle and the complicated relationship with his brother William and his father, among others.
But which members of the British royal family were portrayed worst in Harry’s autobiography?
King Charles III
The portrayal of Charles III is largely amicable. Of all the royal family, he is the best.
Prince Harry’s comments about his father cover ground we already knew. They reinforce the image that many have of him.
He describes “Pa” as a sensitive and studious man who struggled to connect emotionally with Harry after Diana’s death.
But the king is now the boss and, while escaping the worst, must decide how to deal with attacks directed at other members of the family.
What Harry says about Queen Consort Camilla will be hard for his father to swallow. If there is to be any kind of reconciliation, it will have to come from above.
Any olive branches will probably have to be offered first by the king. And now, publicly, there is no trace of it.
Camilla, the queen consort
For Camilla, the queen consort, it’s been a rocky road. But even Harry’s opinion of his stepmother is full of contradictions.
He directs much of his fury at her, accusing her of courting the tabloids to improve her public image, labeled a “mean.” A strategy, according to him, that made it “dangerous”.
It’s a complicated story for a woman who has never enjoyed broad public support.
At the same time, in another chapter, and in an answer during the interview, the tone is kinder, even affectionate and full of admiration. He acknowledges the happiness and peace it brought to his father and praises his work with victims of domestic violence.
For Harry, Camilla is a confused person.
William, Prince of Wales
Prince William is the subject of harsh and repeated criticism. The book changed the way we view the relationship of brothers, Willy and Harold, since we now know their names.
Things haven’t been going so well lately. But they were brothers bound by loss and dependent on each other. It is not so?
Apparently not, according to Harry. The tension between them goes back decades, she says, ignored by William at Eton School, privately usurped as best man at his brother’s wedding, then assaulted by him in the kitchen. Sometimes the writing oozes anger, sometimes evil.
William appears in the play as the angry, frustrated and repressed older brother. He doesn’t fit her public image as a nice, affable and empathetic royal.
Kensington Palace has not responded to anything Harry has written. Instead, we see William letting his real work speak for itself. Doing your duty. Focus on vulnerable communities. And trying to escape the furor caused by the book. If it is possible.
Kate, Princess of Wales
There’s a lot on the subject of Kate vs. Meghan in the book. For Harry, his sister-in-law is always Kate.
References to her are often personal and come from memories of private moments. In this sense, they are revelatory.
Harry didn’t like the media portraying the two women as rivals, but this is the context in which the Princess of Wales is often discussed in his book.
In the work a tense and formal Kate is shown, next to an open and barefoot Meghan.
Kate doesn’t like hugs, she doesn’t like sharing lip gloss, and according to Harry, there’s been a notorious misunderstanding about bridesmaids’ dresses.
It’s hard to imagine that this wouldn’t hurt the Princess of Wales personally, especially as it exposes elements of her and her children’s private lives, which she has fiercely protected.
Again, just like her husband, don’t expect to hear any public responses. Rather, she will let her public engagements speak for themselves.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
To her husband, she is Meg. She changed Harry’s life. In the book and in the interviews she is less duchess than one might think.
Much of Harry’s memoir covers his life before Meghan. But his influence and her impact shine through as soon as she enters the picture. He says writing the book would have been “logistically, physically, emotionally and spiritually” impossible without her.
The book is likely to consolidate opinions about Meghan. For some, Harry was rescued by her and escaped to a life of freedom and immense happiness.
For others, it took him away from duty and family and will never be forgiven. Media coverage this week is unlikely to change their minds.
Harry, Duke of Sussex
Where to start? No one expected him to hold back. His story, his words, were the playing field.
But this story is more graphic. Those innermost words and his hatred of the British tabloid press is more intense than expected. Writing the book was a “painful” and “cathartic” experience for him at the same time.
The book will now be a roadblock that will get in the way of the reconciliation Harry says he wants with his family. Finding a truce now seems unthinkable. Trust has been broken.
In his interviews, Harry said he hadn’t spoken to his father or brother in a while. There is sadness here, but things have gotten personal and this is not a comfortable position for the royal family.
Interest in Harry and Meghan remains high, but it’s hard to judge whether it will continue over the coming months and years now that their story has come to light.
the real winners
In addition to some royals, there are a handful of other winners.
The book’s publisher, Penguin Random House, is holding a bestseller during the month of January, when sales normally stop after Christmas.
It was also a lucrative project for the British channel ITV. Interview with Harry has already been sold in 77 territories worldwide, from France to New Zealand.
The power of therapy is often mentioned, which Harry credits with allowing him to face the past and write his memoirs. The book’s credits also hint at Harry’s team: physical therapists, acupuncturists, Pilates teachers, chiropractors, personal trainers, and an energy specialist. He thanks everyone for keeping him mentally and physically strong over the years.
And among those who get an unexpected publicity boost are beard lovers. The other BBC, the British Beard Club, is considering asking Prince Harry to become a patron, or at least a courtesy member, after writing in favor of the beard in his book.
It has been an intense week of information on the royal family.
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