Prince Harry’s Spare: What He’s Really Looking For | ROYALS

Between Prince Harry’s book Spare, the Netflix docuseries, and countless interviews, it feels like we finally got an inside look at the Duke of Sussex’s private life… so why does it still feel so unclear what Prince Harry really wants? In the book itself, a confusing picture emerges – he says things that are totally at odds with each other – like admonishing the institution of the royal family but still seemingly wanting to be a part of it… or at the very least benefit from it. So what exactly is Harry looking for – redemption or revenge?


With the release of the Netflix docuseries, countless interviews, and now Prince Harry’s book, Spare – it feels like we finally got an inside look at the Duke of Sussex’s private life. But with more information than ever, why does it still feel so unclear what Prince Harry really wants?

In the beginning of the book Harry says that he wrote Spare to explain to his father, brother, and the public why he ultimately had to leave his position and the country. But in an interview with The Telegraph, Harry says it’s an attempt to save his family, claiming “This is not about trying to collapse the monarchy, this is about trying to save them from themselves.”

And in another interview, he claims to have written Spare to protect his nephews and niece. In theory, it could have been a combination of these things that inspired him to finally get his story out, but the $20 million advance probably didn’t hurt, either. In the book itself, a confusing picture emerges – he says things that are totally at odds with each other – like admonishing the institution of the royal family but still seemingly wanting to be a part of it…or at the very least benefit from it.

So what exactly is Harry looking for – redemption or revenge? To change the system, or rub salt in the wounds? Here’s our take on how by trying to clear the air, Prince Harry may have just muddied the waters more…and how at the same time, Spare paints a picture of a man at odds with himself.


At its core, Spare is an inside look at the Royal Family – the likes of which the public has never gotten to see. In it, we hear Prince Harry yearn for normal family dynamics – and for his family to act like family at all. He’s said in interviews that he wants a relationship with his family – and yet the book itself feels like the ultimate act of defiance – something that could very well undo any kind of future he could have with them. The royal family’s unofficial motto is ‘never complain, never explain’ – but in Spare, Harry does both.

Prince Harry: What they have to say to me, what I have to say to them, will be in private, and I hope it can stay that way – itv 2023 Interview

And it’s clear he knew the risks going in. In fact, Harry said he trimmed down the memoir from 800 pages to 400 pages – choosing not to publish certain details knowing his family would never forgive him. When asked about this specifically, Harry says, “One of the themes across the interviews is: how can you say you want your brother and father back, surely writing a book is not the way of going about it? And my answer to that is: I’ve tried everything I can! It’s as if they don’t want reconciliation, because keeping us as the villains, and keeping the press focused on us, helps detract from everything else that’s going on within that family.”

So it seems this is a last ditch effort on Harry’s part – that maybe if he can make enough noise with this book, they’ll finally take his pleas seriously. There’s also the idea that he’s torn between the Windsors and his new family. This is something he foreshadows when he describes his father’s marriage to Camilla and Prince William’s to Kate.

Prince Harry: Weddings were joyous occasions, sure, but they were also low-key funerals, because after saying their vows people tended to disappear. – Spare

Of course, this is ironic, because it’s Harry and Meghan who actually disappeared – moving to California. But despite the fact that they’re gone, the very fact that he’s written this memoir is a pull back towards his old life. Though he can claim catharsis, or setting the record straight, the reality is that in writing Spare, he was yet again connecting himself back to the family he left behind.

When it comes to the family in question, no relationship is more controversial than Harry and William’s. ‘Spare’ is a provocative title which gets to the root of a lot of Harry’s issues with his family – the fact that he’s never felt as important as his brother. He says that he was referred to as the Spare by both his parents and his grandparents – and examines all the ways he is or could be the Spare: as a spare head of state, yes, but also a spare body part in case William needs it – a real life, Royal version of My Sister’s Keeper

Prince Harry: I was brought into the world in case something happened to Willy. I was summoned to provide backup, distraction, diversion and, if necessary, a spare part. – Spare

Harry feels like no one cares as much about him as they do his brother – something he explores when he writes that his father and brother were never allowed to travel on the same flight. But when we examine it a little closer, he seems to conflate the Royal family – the institution – with the Royal family, his family. Yet he also describes tender moments with his family – moments that don’t imply they thought of him as ‘a nullity’. His father – who he says always calls him ‘darling boy’ – went into his room to sit with him every night as he fell asleep.

Throughout the book, Harry talks about William being treated better than him – which of course, in many ways, it does seem like he is. But some of the things he brings up show how he conflates regular sibling dynamics with being royal. For instance, he says, It’s hard to separate William being the older brother from him being the heir to the throne – the two facts go hand in hand. But many older siblings get the bigger room in non-royal families, too. It seems like, in some ways, he has regular younger-brother jealousies – but he attributes it to something bigger.

Harry consistently sees Prince William’s gains as his losses – even when they’re not material gains. When William and Kate get married, Harry writes,

Prince Harry: He’d be a new person, many new persons, and none of them would be Willy. He’d be The Duke of Cambridge, the title chosen for him by Granny. / Great for him. But a loss for me, all the same. – Spare

It seems as though he’s internalized the idea of being the Spare, and created an illusion of symbiosis; when William grows, part of him shrinks. It’s hard to decipher whether Harry’s resentment is directed towards William himself – or the institution that denied him a true brother. In an interview with The Telegraph, Harry spoke about Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, saying, ‘I feel a responsibility knowing that out of those three children, at least one will end up like me, the spare. And that hurts, that worries me.’ But in the same interview, he says that his brother has made it clear that his children are not Harry’s concern.

Which begs the question: is he saying this out of genuine worry for his nephews and niece? Or is it a dig at his brother and the Institution for putting a child in what he deems to be the impossible position of ‘spare’?

Despite outwardly hating the intrinsic relationship between the royal family and the press – in ‘Spare’, Harry comes across as enamored with the institution of royalty. He regularly discusses how ancient and rich the history of the royals is. Despite renouncing his position in the family, he still reveres the idea of royalty itself, and often talks about how much he loves his ‘Mother Country’, too.

Harry also never seems to truly connect the extensive issues of racism that he describes in Britain with the country’s colonialist past – which was led by his family. He quotes a Huffington Post columnist saying

Prince Harry: ‘the mild reaction of Britons to this explosion of racism was to be expected, since they were the heirs of racist colonialists.’Spare

But he seems almost purposefully obtuse in not joining the dots. Likewise, in their interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan famously revealed that when she was pregnant with Archie, there were. But in a later interview, Harry denies that these conversations were racist. Which seems in direct contradiction with the docuseries, Harry and Meghan, that tried to shine a light on the issues of colonialism that created a racist environment for them.

Why would Harry want to retain his royal title – or ties to a place that was so fundamentally wrong for his family? It’s revealed that Harry and Megan had hoped to keep some of their royal duties – despite leaving the country. He says that the family’s decision not to let them keep these duties left them feeling blindsided and without the security they needed – both physically and monetarily.

The subject of money comes up several times in Spare. Harry reveals that he and his brother were kept on their father’s payroll. And that once Meghan was in the picture, his father didn’t want to keep supporting him. But he attributes this to his dislike of her – not the fact that money wasn’t available.

Prince Harry: Pa might have dreaded the rising cost of maintaining us, but what he really couldn’t stomach was someone new dominating the monarchy, grabbing the limelight, someone shiny and new coming in and overshadowing him. – Spare

Though he’s open about a lot of things in the book, he doesn’t discuss exact figures – but Harry’s allowance was rumored to be more than three million dollars a year. He’s also got several trust funds and an inheritance from his mother. Yet he claims, in the book, that once his father cut him off, he had virtually nothing. However, Meghan and Harry’s deal with Netflix, and his book deal, are said to be collectively worth about $120 million.

So it’s possible that he exacted loud, public revenge on his family for a reason: to replace the financial security that they took from him.

Prince Harry: I’d never asked to be financially dependent on Pa / 2:34 Sponge, the papers called me. But there’s a big difference between being a sponge and being prohibited from learning independence. Spare

Throughout his memoir, his Netflix documentary, and his promotional interviews, Harry tries to paint himself as a victim – of birth order, of a messed up family, and of society. But what we actually see is someone who’s never really been in touch with reality, through no fault of his own. He reads into some things – such as healthy sibling rivalry – as intensely dramatic; meanwhile, he brushes off really big issues, like British colonialism, when they don’t fit neatly into his narrative. Ultimately, in Spare, we see a glimpse of a man who is so tangled up in torment that his desires remain unclear.

Prince Harry: I wanted peace. I wanted it more than anything. I wanted it for my family’s sake, and for my own. – Spare