If he’s going to write something then I may as well too.
Prince Harry has just given us the news we have never, ever thought for a moment we wanted to hear. As if January wasn’t already the worst month of the year he has popped back into a limelight he very rarely abandons (the poor chap can’t decide whether his wellbeing is better or worse for all the fame) to make it not just a bad January but the worst in living memory. Personally I can cope with political and economic upheaval, not to mention anything else that’s crap about the world but I really don’t think I’m going to manage very well when the 10th January 2023 comes along. It might not be quite so bad if he was the only bad writer in his family, but of course his wife has already published her own vacuum of creativity – children’s book ‘The Bench’, which would have had more artistic value if all the pages had been blank or had been used for a series of dirty protests. So now they can both be writers, safe in the knowledge that no matter how dreadful their work is it will sell by the dump truck and make a lot of money for whatever they deem to be worthy causes.
The front cover and title are already out there: a rather uncomfortable close up of the author trying to look thoughtful, hard and symmetrical all at once, topped by his stage name and toed by a rather stark ‘SPARE’. If there is anybody, or indeed any creature at all in the food chain, that is in any doubt that Prince Harry is the global poster boy for blinkered, crass self-pity then that title will sure put the case to rest. This is a man who has more than most by quite some distance and yet he has decided to invite the world to feel sorry for him because he was the spare and not the heir to the throne of Great Britain; King Harry being a job I doubt he wanted and suspect he would have made a pig’s breakfast of anyway. Not everyone gets to be in the kind of position and privilege he was born into and retains, and while some may not envy him much many more would crawl over broken glass just to sniff at a single percent of his lifestyle. Even if this wasn’t one of the great, pointless, woe-is-me vanity projects of all time it still begs the question: what could be in Prince Harry’s memoir that we haven’t already heard a thousand times before? That the Queen used to attend Klan rallies on the Sandringham estate? That he was breaking in new shoes when he walked behind that coffin? That he first met Meghan on the set of ‘My Two Dads’?
“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,”
That’s what the publicity says. That’s what we can expect to light up the darkness in January, most likely as as a handy extra combustible for a dying fire. Oh boy, does that not sound like a lot of fun. You always have to roll the eyes a little when an author gives the go ahead for their book to be described as “a landmark publication”. Is that landmark like the dossier into weapons of mass destruction or landmark as in the latest Dan Brown novel? The pretention is so vast it is in danger of turning into some kind of literary black hole. I can think of many words to describe Prince Harry, many of them comprising of a lean four letters, but I would never dare to accuse him of being insightful or wise, nor that if there were such specks for evidence they could claim to be hard won. And let’s remember that these so-called revelations will only be of the the same, ever so empty, playground snitch kind that made Oprah almost speechless enough to render her bearable. As for self-examination, well I think the world has already had more than enough time watching Prince Harry examine himself, let alone need for the results to be written down in a book with big words and punctuation and everything.
I’m wrong about many things. In fact I’m rather good at being wrong, to the point that it could almost be described as a strength. But I’m going to say this anyway and then six months from now we’ll see how I did. I think ‘SPARE’ by Prince Harry (no-one has mentioned ghost writers at this stage, but I’ll be staggered if there wasn’t a little gang of ghouls and phantoms pressing most of the keys for him) will be pretty shit, a bit shit at best. Millions of copies will be printed in deeply wasteful hardback, though there is some happiness to be had in knowing that it will come out too late to be anyone’s most disappointing Christmas present this year. Many people will buy it, but far more will just wait for the ‘revelations’ to be condensed into a bitter, pathetic paragraph or two on websites and in newsrooms across the globe. It will be a field month for sycophants and there are bound to be vast swathes of interviews and analysis to clog up the lives of those who can still afford electricity. And then, a few months later, all those hardback books will start to filter into the charity shop system to be snapped up by hoarders and other assorted mentally compromised types; on a documentary years from now we’ll meet an old lady who has to negotiate a wall of second hand copies of ‘SPARE’ just to find her own toilet to not clean. Of course, I could well be wrong and Prince Harry’s book will turn out to be a masterpiece, but where would be the fun, or reality, in that?
G B Hewitt. 28.10.2023