Prince Harry has delivered a tragic portrayal of his father King Charles III. in his highly anticipated memoir, describing the latter's early years as "lonely."
Harry writes that his father only survived his time at the boarding school Gordonstoun because he carried a teddy bear around for comfort — a cherished stuffed toy with broken arms and loose threads that the king held on to for many years. Harry adds that it showed a deep sense of loneliness the the king experienced during his childhood.
This is one of many intimate details Harry has revealed in his 410-page memoir that was published worldwide on January 10. Titled "Spare" it refers to him being the younger brother of the heir to the throne, Prince William — William being the "heir" and Harry the "spare." The book is currently No 1 in the UK Amazon bestseller charts and is predicted to be one of 2023's bestsellers.
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In it, Harry also attempts to explain how being the "spare" has shaped his life. He writes at length about grieving for his mother Diana Spencer, who died in a car crash when he was a child, as well as about the rivalry between William and himself. While Prince Harry claims in the book that his father King Charles wasn't cut out for parenthood — least of all single parenthood — he portrays him as a man who cares deeply for his children, who refers to his younger son as "darling boy," and who begged William and Harry after the funeral of his own father, Prince Philipp, to stop arguing so as to not make his final years "hell."
Camilla, the wicked stepmother
Prince Harry uses tropes popular in fairy tales and the tabloid press when describing some of the women in the royal family. His mother Diana is described as saintlike, the perfect woman, likened to pure light. His father's second wife Camilla the Queen Consort on the other hand, is cast as the wicked stepmother who is out for the throne, who launched a PR campaign and leaked intimate details from private conversations to the press to get what she wants.
Prince Harry's accusations against his stepmother were first revealed two days ahead of the memoir's publication when the prince gave an interview to British TV channel ITV. In the 90-minute interview, he revealed his conflicted emotions about his stepmother, reporting that he had asked his father King Charles not to marry Camilla, advising him instead to be with her without tying the knot.
However, Harry went on to claim that he had been very happy for them regardless on their wedding day. He also claimed in the interview that he never accused the British family of racism, but merely of unconscious bias toward his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex .
Is the British media going easier on Harry?
In the United Kingdom, the print coverage of the interview has been comparably respectful, perhaps in response to the prince's accusations that the British press deliberately fans conflict within the Royal family.
Later in the broadcast, he referred to the British monarchy and royal family as "abusers." "Silence only protects the abuser," he said on the ITV broadcast when questioned about his motives for publishing a memoir while insisting the press respect his privacy. Asked whether he would attend his father's coronation on May 6 if he received an invitation, Harry said "a lot can happen between now and then," avoiding a direct answer.
Harry challenges the monarchy
Despite a decade of declining support for the British monarchy among the younger generation in the UK, Harry said in the interview that his problem had never been with the monarchy itself, only with its relationship with the press. He claims the royal family feeds information to the British tabloid press, becoming complicit in the harmful relationship between the public and the crown.
Harry also said in the interview that "the world" was asking for accountability from the British royal family for what they have done to him and his wife, while Commonwealth countries from Australia to Jamaica are discussing the possibility of removing the British monarch as their head of state. Meanwhile, historians in the UK and politicians in the former colonies have been calling for the royal family and Britain to reckon with its colonial oppression and its part in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Media attention on the Sussexes
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, courted controversy when they released their Netflix documentary "Harry and Meghan" in December. Since leaving the royal family in 2020 and moving to the US state of California, they have had to make a living on their own.
According to polls from late 2022, prior to the release of the documentary and the prince's memoirs, Harry and Meghan had some of the lowest popularity ratings of the royal family, while heir-to-the-throne William and his wife, Catherine, have topped the popularity charts of the British public since the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September.
Edited by: Brenda Haas
Author Christine Lehnen
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