Books with Sommer: ‘Spare’ by Prince Harry


Sommer Bianchi '23, Head of Social Media

So I did it: I spent 20 dollars on Prince Harry’s book. I planned to read it super quickly so I could return it for a refund (just in case), but after reading it, I might let Harry keep my money and spend it on his private jets (not cool, by the way). Not only did I not want to finish it quickly, I physically couldn’t; he, or his ghostwriter, put so much effort and detail into the writing that it almost felt like fiction. In some ways, it would have been better if it wasn’t real, but I’ll get into that later. Want to know what the book was actually about without having to read it? Here you go. 

When I tell people I read Spare and that I feel sympathy for Harry, I often get the response, “Why? He’s a prince, he literally has everything,”. To that, fair point. He is a part of the most distinguished, and arguably the most famous of families in the world. Just by being born, he surpassed the majority of the world in wealth and social status. But putting his title aside, he is just another person trying to get by. Faced with PTSD, anxiety, and working through the lifelong grief of losing his mother, he goes through the same things as normal people do. He is placed in Eton, a school far too academically challenging for him. He works to find himself in a world covered in drugs and alcohol. He struggles, he finds love, and while he is still from one of the richest families in the world, blue blood still bleed red. 

I was also incredibly surprised at how many people told me that reading Spare is a waste of time and that the whole thing is a 410-paged victim complex with a dash of superiority. Suddenly reading an excerpt meant reading the whole thing, and because Prince Harry had written it meant that all of it must be worded to make himself look the best. I would argue that this is a primary source, we can piece together events that prove that Prince Harry’s story can corroborate with real-time events. Of course, it’s biased; he is writing from his perspective, which will always be biased toward the writer. However, his own truth is the closest thing you can get to the truth when it comes to the Royal Family. He will make himself look better, and he will advocate for the good nature of his wife, that is just a fact. But looking into the other sources we have, most of them are filled with hatred and distaste for himself and Megahn, and are often inaccurate and filled with tales of those bought by money. Sure, we don’t need the truth, in fact, we have no right to it. This is a family, something considered sacred and private. But as Harry mentions throughout the book, the Royal family never actually gets any privacy while the press takes their lives and spins them through loop-de-loops of their own inventions. 

The press makes major appearances in Spare, and why shouldn’t it? They have followed Harry from the moment he was born, and have tormented and harassed him religiously. From being accused of being a drug addict to being “naughty” to comparing killing to being called a disgrace, Harry has seen it all. I found the stories he told about himself and Diana completely disgusting. I simply don’t understand how someone could do that to another human being, and in reality, it’s probably because they don’t consider them human beings. And how much easier it is to bully and dehumanize someone from behind a keyboard or the lens of a camera. The press is a constant source of stress and conflict; with their mobs and raids of people’s houses, they destroyed lives for years. And all for money. Why do we feed into this? This endless hunger for gossip fuels that constant craving for cash. When are lines drawn? When does ruin someone’s mental health, someone’s life, become too much to cope with? I just can’t fathom it. It just doesn’t make sense to me, it can’t. 

Harry joined the army either because he didn’t want anything to do with further schooling or because it was just a way to branch out from his family. I think it was definitely a way for him to find peace, but also equality. Even though he was a prince, Harry trained with everyone else and worked like everyone else. But with his military experience, I try to take what he says with a grain of salt. He is experiencing Afghanistan from a British soldier’s perspective, so of course he sees things a certain way. His descriptions of the Taliban killing British soldiers and how it enraged him felt truly emotional and patriotic, but also gave me pause. Harry killed 25 people. He admitted this, along with the fact that in order to kill someone, he couldn’t think of them as people. But wouldn’t the Taliban see him the same way? His “chess pieces” were people to someone, just like his fellow soldiers were people to him. I would also like to acknowledge that I know nothing about war; I don’t know anyone who has served, and I haven’t studied war and its effects on the human brain, none of it. I am, after all, a high schooler. All I can do is share my take on it and will be asking teachers and reading up on case studies and articles on the subject. 

Many people discredited or outright said the book was flawed based on one scene. I’ll call it “The Scene” because I am not describing it. Google it if you must. Honestly, it didn’t bother me that much. I actually thought it was kind of funny that he even included it. I could have definitely been shorter, I would say that. Details were included that didn’t need to be, so take that as you will

On a separate note, let’s talk about Meghan. A lot of people are now looking over the whole media circus that was 2020-2021 concerning Meghan. I’m kinda sad to say that at the time, I was definitely not a fan of hers, but then again, I knew nothing about her. I had no idea what Suits were, and all I saw was another actress trying to get into the Royal Family. What I didn’t take the time to consider is why I felt this way. Why was the press treating Meghan so horribly? It took me taking a step away to see the racism and misogyny that fueled the news. If a princess had been getting married to a man, I’m very sure that past relationships, “nudes” (that were fake), and all sorts of sexist propaganda would have not shown up. God forbid that Meghan wore the wrong hat or the wrong color; would that have ever been an issue with a man? Sadly, I did expect the racism, but I didn’t expect the lengths it went to. All because she was marrying the man she loved, she had to be bullied and berated to the point where she was considering suicide. I even just searched her name and this is still happening, most recently with Jeremy Clarkson. I still don’t know a lot about Meghan, but all I can do is sympathize with her pain and all of the abuse she has gone through. 

How we consume media, what we say about others, and the overall message. Looking back, I felt slightly disgusted with myself. I believed everything, and even worse, I had sought out news on the Royal Family, thinking that everything written had to be true. I wasn’t alive when Diana died, nor when new ideas were coming out about how we consume media. But in the new age of technology, I think we have to discuss it. As previously said, we have no right to the private lives of others, so why do we act like it? Why do we see fame as an all-access pass to a reality show that the cast didn’t consent to? And what about the things we say about others? How the way we describe and berate one another is simply commonplace. Everything from award shows to school dances to Instagram, we are displayed and critiqued like human canvases. When do we stop? When do we realize that we all bleed red, no matter race, sex, or social status? When do likes and fame stop controlling us? As I write this article, I’m taking a look at myself and the way that I treat others. How do I consume my news? Do I help feed into this critique, and if so, how can I let that go? While Harry and Meghan, and all celebrities, are in no way perfect (ahem private jets), starting off by looking at them as human beings rather than a net worth might start us on the right track. Whether or not you like Harry and Meghan, their story is an important one that shows us the power of media and its consequences.