I was very interested to read Harry’s memoir, after noticing how differently the press treated Meghan, compared to the way Kate was written about. The press got hold of the book ahead of time and wrote articles spinning what might be considered the contentious parts, to whip up frenzy against the Prince, knowing what he was doing in writing the book was to give his version of some of the press stories, and to rob them of using any other material they had by pre-empting them. The press have been responsible for most of the vitriol about Diana’s second son, because they saw him as a meal ticket. King Charles and his heir ought to be above criticism, and the spare is expected to help by taking the flack from the press, though Charles had some of it during the past, and William is not immune, especially now Harry has stepped down. This is because the press feel they have the right to report on the Royals, because the tax payers pay for them. But I think this relationship has become toxic. Anyone who marries into the Royal Family faces attacks from the press, but it was worse in Meghan’s case because of the racist undertones.
The book is in three parts. The first part covers his childhood, starting with his father gently and kindly letting him know his mother has been killed in a car crash. For many years, both William and Harry (as they later discover) thought, on one level, that Diana had faked her death and gone into hiding. This is so sad, because it shows they knew how much Diana feared the paparazzi, and how much they hounded her, all for the chance of taking a photo they could sell for thousands. Both boys were damaged by their mother’s awful death. Harry has now had the chance of therapy and to open up about it. We will never know if William has had the same chance to come to terms with it. This section also covers his education at two boarding schools, and the death of his close friend Henners, in another awful car crash.
Part two covers his time after school, his gap year, in which he worked as a Jackaroo in Australia, and voluntary work in Africa, and his 10 years in the army. Some of the experiences described here are very harrowing. Captain Wales certainly didn’t have a cushy time: he was treated exactly like other soldiers, and served alongside them. This is what he wanted. He cared about his team. He later walked with injured soldiers as part of their recovery to both the North Pole and the South Pole, and inspired by the Warrior Games in USA, started the Invictus Games. He tells us about previous girlfriends who found it hard to cope with media interest, which amounted to stalking.
The third part continues his love of Africa, and friends he made there, Teej and Mike, on his gap year. He discusses how he met and fell in love with Meghan, what it felt like to be a husband and father, and his fears that the media onslaught was affecting his wife’s mental health. The media accuse him of whining, but that is never his tone in the book. I listened to his narration on Audible, and there is no whining, though he is earnest in wanting to communicate his story.
The book is part memoir of his mother, part bildungsroman, part adventure story. It’s a rattling good read. The ghost writer, Moehringer, has done a brilliant job assisting Harry with his book. The press narrative has always been that Harry was ‘dim’ because he didn’t do well at school, and didn’t attend University. This book makes it clear Harry is a very sensitive and intelligent man. Whether it is Harry, or the ghostwriter, the narrative is seasoned with many literary references. The young playful prince as grown up to be a man of many accomplishments, and he has found the perfect wife in Meghan. They are both humanitarians, and carry out a lot of charity work, while earning enough from creative efforts to be completely independent, taking no money from the taxpayer. That is a massive achievement.
It is obvious reading the book that Harry loves his family. His affection for the Queen is tangible. He loved and shared her sense of humour. His grandpa is mentioned as being a great cook, and his Gangan good company. He clearly loves his father, and presents him as an endearing, bookish man with a passion for Shakespeare and for saving the planet. A hard-worker, a loving father and a charming man: this is how he comes across in the book. He’s fond of William and Kate, and was always hoping to see more of them, but according to Harry, the boys were not as close as the press likes to make out. They were on different paths from the start, William with his future as King mapped out for him.
I am glad I have read the book, and this will most likely not be my last word on the subject.