The Tragedy of Prince Harry – Review of “Spare” - The Jewish Voice
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The Tragedy of Prince Harry – Review of “Spare”

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By: Dominic Green

This is not Prince Harry’s autobiography. It is a biography of a character called “Prince Harry,” assembled from conversations with the real Harry by a ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer. It is to autobiography as one of those Philip Roth novels where the main character is called “Philip Roth” are to fiction, only less tedious. It is fascinating in its way, though not in the way the real Harry intends. It is a collaboration between two unequal partners, one an accomplished ventriloquist, the other believing that he has finally found his voice.

Harry recorded the audiobook, so he knows exactly what is in Spare. He wants us to know that animals give him spirit messages from the beyond. These are usually sent by his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a Paris car crash on August 31, 1997, when Harry was 12 and his older brother William was 15. The messages begin when Harry is 14. He and William are on safari in Botswana, eating dinner in their tent, when a leopard appears. “Everyone froze,” Harry says. “Except me.”

“I took a step towards it. … I was thinking about Mummy. That leopard was clearly a sign from her, a messenger she’d sent to say, ‘All is well. And all will be well.'”

The leopard lied. Harry is not well. He and William are traumatized by Diana’s death. Their father, now Charles III, struggles to comfort them, and sends them to boarding school. Harry refuses to believe that Diana is dead. He tells himself that she is hiding in a Swiss chalet, and she comes to him in his dreams. Soon, Harry is binge-drinking and smoking weed. Smoking a fat one with his mates in a bathroom at Eton, perhaps Britain’s top boarding school, Harry looks out on the moonlit grounds and meets his spirit animal:

Pass the spliff, mate.

One night, straddling the loo, I took a big hit and gazed up at the moon, then down at the school grounds. I watched several Thames Valley police officers marching back and forth. They were stationed out there because of me. But they didn’t make me feel safe. They made me feel caged.

Beyond them, however, that was where safety lay. … So much peace in the wider world … for some. For those free to search for it.

Prince William, second from left, watches the hearse pull away from Westminster Abbey carrying the body of his mother Princess Diana as his father Charles, the Prince of Wales, looks on after a funeral service on Sept. 6, 1997, in London. (AP Photo/John Gaps III, Pool)

Just then I saw something dart across the quad. It froze under one of the orange streetlights. I froze too, and leaned out of the window.

A fox!

Maybe it was the weed—undoubtedly it was the weed—but I felt a piercing and powerful kinship with that fox. I felt more connected to that fox than I did to the boys in the bathroom, the other boys at Eton—even the Windsors in the distant castle. In fact, this little fox, like the leopard in Botswana, seemed like a messenger, sent to me from some other realm. Or perhaps from the future.

In 2008, more than a decade later, Captain Harry Wales, now serving as a gunner on an Apache helicopter in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, is camped for the night, drinking hot chocolate and watching the radio. Around one in the morning, a flurry of messages about “Red Fox” come through.

The voices were saying this Red Fox was in trouble, no doubt about it.

I made out that Red Fox was a person. Had he done something wrong?


Were others planning to do him wrong?


Judging from the tone of the voices, Red Fox was about to be murdered. I swallowed a mouthful of hot chocolate and blinked at the radio and knew with total certainty that Red Fox was me. …

My mind flashed back to Eton. The fox I’d glimpsed from the future after all.

An Australian magazine had got hold of the story that Harry was in Helmand. He was a target for the Taliban, so his superiors decided to extract him, for his own safety and that of his fellow soldiers. At 24, his active military career was over. The Army made the “spare” a leader, and valued his talents. It gave him a purpose for the first time, and kept him busy enough to forget his sorrows.

Nearly a decade will pass until he meets Meghan Markle in 2016. These are the lost years. The spirit animals fall silent, and Harry self-medicates. He drinks and smokes weed every day. He does coke, magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, and LSD in an effort to lift the veil of reality and stroke the lost leopard. He falls out of night clubs, too drunk to walk. He picks fights with photographers and his own bodyguard. He has panic attacks whenever he meets the public. He stays in Courteney Cox’s house when she is away, drinks loads of tequila, takes loads of mushrooms, and hallucinates that her toilet is speaking to him.

Harry does not explain why Courteney Cox’s talking toilet was a hallucination, but the spirit animals are real. At this point in his life, he cannot explain anything to himself. He is so overwhelmed with loss and grief that he cannot recall his mother. He is trapped in a “red mist,” a rage that he directs at his feeble father Charles, his scheming stepmother Camilla, his cold, conformist brother William, and above all at the British press, which he blames for his mother’s death.

Diana is a leopard, Harry is a fox. Charles is a cowardly lion. William has surrendered his “autonomy,” so he doesn’t get an animal at all. Kate is the bitch who takes William away from Harry. Alone, he unravels further. By 2013, he cannot control his panic attacks and agoraphobia.

I came to fear simply being around other human beings. More than anything else I feared cameras. The telltale click of a shutter opening and closing could knock me sideways for a whole day.

I had no choice: I began staying home. Day after day, night after night, I sat around eating takeaway, watching 24. Or Friends. I think I might’ve watched every episode of Friends in 2013.

He hits rock bottom: “I decided I was a Chandler.” By 2015, he is the world’s most famous incel:

Every night I’d go straight home from work, eat over the sink, then catch up on paperwork, Friends on low in the background. … I missed the war.

After dinner I’d smoke a joint, trying to make sure the smoke didn’t waft into the garden of my neighbor, the Duke of Kent.

Then I’d turn in early.


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