Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Marina Hyde

People are going spare about Prince Harry’s memoir. Just don’t ask them why

Harry and Meghan at the Global Citizen Live festival in New York, September 2021
Harry and Meghan at the Global Citizen Live festival in New York, September 2021. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

The interior designer and social commentator Nicky Haslam has just released the latest annual version of his fabled tea towel, on which he lists some more of the things that he “finds common”. (This year’s entries include Bond Street, coriander, divorce, porn, Stanley Johnson, hydrangeas, foundations and side plates.) Far be it from any of us to suggest culprits for the next one, but I do think “being angry with Meghan and Harry” should be a contender. Let’s be honest: there really isn’t much more desperately naff than allowing oneself to be conversationally infuriated by the commercial behaviour/comings-and-goings/mere existence of “the Sussexes”. It is hugely infra dig.

And yet the couple continue to drive swathes of people quite mad. For a huge throng of the vicariously enraged, this week’s release of the cover of Harry’s forthcoming memoir has once again proved a ticket to near-apoplexy. The book is to be called Spare – a hilarious and brilliant title, despite kneejerk criticism of it from people whose own books are called perfectly gopping things like “Diana’s Babies: Kate, William and the repair of a broken family”. Given Spare isn’t out till January, we’ve no idea yet of the quality of its content, though I note Harry has benefited from Andre Agassi’s ghostwriter. So we could be in for more unforgettable and award-winning sections on hair loss in the public eye.

We hardly need to recap the backstory with the duke and duchess, but for the sake of form let’s go once more round the houses/palaces /mock-Mediterranean Montecito mansions: Harry and his wife were made so clearly and understandably miserable by royal life that they resigned from it, and have since become a pair of frequently unbearable Californian wellness bores wafting round the same ghastly smalltown farmers’ market as Gwyneth Paltrow. Hey – it’s a living. I’m sure we’d all cross the street to avoid having a pint of improving green juice with any of them. But ultimately, so what? If the Sussexes wish to continue living their life as a lucrative soap opera – and you surely wouldn’t be publishing yet another version of “your truth” in book form if you didn’t – then it isn’t really the worst thing in the world, except arguably for certain members of their families who their haters don’t know socially.

The cover of Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, which will be published in January
The cover of Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, which will be published in January. Photograph: AP

Quite why Harry can’t simply be shunted into the “annoying, but amusing” category that Gwyneth herself has long occupied is unclear, even if he hasn’t yet suggested past lives therapy or popping the Koh-i-noor diamond up your fanny. Instead, the Sussexes draw more online and offline ire than homicidal and genocidal dictators. This feels somehow … uncool, on the part of the irate.

Perhaps, like me, you can’t quite work out in whose service the extreme anger at Harry’s every move is now unleashed. It supposedly used to be on unbidden behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, but now she is “sadly passed” (a phrase which also features on the Haslam drying-up cloth this year), it’s hard to decide for whom all this category-5 curtain-twitching fury is occurring. Is it for King Charles, who graspingly accepted literal suitcases of charity cash from a former Qatari prime minister, with one such holdall containing more than a million euros? The new sovereign also gratefully received – against all advice – a £1m payment from a member of the Bin Laden family. Yes, perhaps it is on Charles’s behalf that people are against anything that feels like an absolute pisstake by someone who is already beyond super-rich.

Either way, one does start to drift off a bit when people suggest the Sussexes are not very talented and should not have this path to vast unearned wealth. Perhaps not. But life isn’t fair. Most importantly, can royalists ever really get into the deserved-riches argument? The British royal family’s stupidity has been internationally reputed since at least George I. In an actual meritocracy they’d probably be unemployable, or podcasters. Instead they cut ribbons several days a week and lead an obviously straitjacketed existence of public duty, in return for living like kings. Sorry – living as kings. I can’t help feeling that those who are more angry than anything at Harry and Meghan’s pathway to vast unearned wealth are so close to understanding why they’re really angry – and yet, still so far away.

  • Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist

  • What Just Happened?! by Marina Hyde (Guardian Faber, £16). To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy at Delivery charges may apply

  • Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.