Spare Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow—and horror. As Princess Diana was laid to rest, billions wondered what Prince William and Prince Harry must be thinking and feeling—and how their lives would play out from that point on.
For Harry, this is that story at last.
Before losing his mother, twelve-year-old Prince Harry was known as the carefree one, the happy-go-lucky Spare to the more serious Heir. Grief changed everything. He struggled at school, struggled with anger, with loneliness—and, because he blamed the press for his mother’s death, he struggled to accept life in the spotlight.
At twenty-one, he joined the British Army. The discipline gave him structure, and two combat tours made him a hero at home. But he soon felt more lost than ever, suffering from post-traumatic stress and prone to crippling panic attacks. Above all, he couldn’t find true love.
Then he met Meghan. The world was swept away by the couple’s cinematic romance and rejoiced in their fairy-tale wedding. But from the beginning, Harry and Meghan were preyed upon by the press, subjected to waves of abuse, racism, and lies. Watching his wife suffer, their safety and mental health at risk, Harry saw no other way to prevent the tragedy of history repeating itself but to flee his mother country. Over the centuries, leaving the Royal Family was an act few had dared. The last to try, in fact, had been his mother. . . .
For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. A landmark publication, Spare is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.
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|Listening Length||15 hours and 39 minutes|
|Author||Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex|
|Narrator||Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex|
|Audible.ca Release Date||January 10 2023|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #2 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Royalty Biographies (Books)
#1 in Politics & Government
#1 in Biographies & Memoirs (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in Canada on January 31, 2023
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Top reviews from Canada
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This quote, taken from part 2, page 170, chapter 33 really spoke to me. I noted it immediately upon reading, highlighting it, because it really spoke to the theme of this book. That truth is often wrapped with pain...that owning ones truth is often brave, hard and often misunderstood. That speaking ones truth often comes with risk, with people who will continue to read your truth and misquote you, who will cherry-pick and judge based on mistruths, often quoted as others as the gospel.
I started this book with my own opinions, and when I finished this book, I was surprised - surprised to find myself empathizing with almost every major player. Even the ones I had demonized in my own minds eye. I found myself empathizing with what it must feel like to be "owned" by an institution - owned by the public. After all, the public were paying for their very existence. What it must feel like to have to grow up, make mistakes and be judged perhaps more harshly than those of his peers. But I also experienced a level of sympathy for what generations of that family have had to undergo.
Trauma is a major theme that wraps it's tentacles around Harry - long past childhood, it ensnares him, forms his very being. I was surprised to learn many things about his feelings about Diana's passing, ones that would be understandable for any young man to feel, but are more so understandable after what he experienced on a world stage. The descriptions of his feelings are so vivid, so painfully raw, that you can't help but feel for him.
I have to give credit where credit is due - this book is exceptionally well written...this speaks to a very close partnership with Prince Harry's ghost writer, JR Moehringer. I could see Prince Harry pouring over his laptop all night long, writing all his feelings down and then JR, taking those feelings and moments and creating a more aesthetically pleasing, descriptive tome. You never feel like it isn't Prince Harry talking from his heart, but you can see where JR has been able to give such clear description, you feel like you're right there, in the battlefield with Harry - that you're walking along side him during that long walk behind his mom. I usually find biographies exceptionally boring because they feel like a history lesson, and don't speak from the heart. This isn't that type of book. You feel like you're reading from his diary, a very personal and private journey he is giving us access too. His entire life has been shown to the world, by those events were not by his choice. THIS was his choice. His truth.
I don't want to take away from this book so I will not go into specifics because I feel like you should go into this book willing to listen - remove your preconceived notions, drop your prejudice, erase from your memory the stories told by others about him and read his truth. Because if nothing else, why should someone else opinion of you be treated as truth, when their opinions are formed by the very people who have tried to destroy you.
Here is her boy, who was raised in a guilded cage (but never afforded a proper treatment or therapy, shipped off to boarding schools and various homes which were always empty of what he sought most - unconditional love of a parent), currently subjected to yet another media feeding frenzy because he disclosed too much. Of what? Of his own soul searching journey? Who cares what impression his book leaves about the Royal family, King Charles or the Institution? What is wrong with this world? People, that's what. Envy, greed, wrath, pride...should I go on? I am disgusted at the depth of human malice (media and anyone posting about Harry's betrayal) and I wish Harry and his family the best of luck in the future they carve for themselves, the one his mother wished for herself but was not permitted to enjoy. The twisted, cruel minds working their plots, the ignorant public taking the bait...nothing has changed, but there is hope. For those two lovely toddlers, for my unborn grandchild (not sure about the percentage of Blackness, but Grandma can't wait to hold you), for all the future generations because we cannot survive this malice as a species, climate change or not.
Reasons I Recommend:
1) Heartbreaking to see how two brothers were almost forced to be at odds and how people outside of the family were able to cause so much doubt and mistrust
2) The discussion of denial and lack of closure given over the death of Princess Diana broke my heart and
3) The unwavering support the Queen has for her grandson, for his wife was heartwarming to read. I did sense an animosity with Camilla and a sense that she was somehow helping the negative press or it was implied that she was to make herself and the king looking better. If that is true, it breaks my heart.
Final thoughts: The monarchy itself divides people but I think what people forget most is that they are a family. A family that deserves some semblance of privacy, that deserves to be able to trust each other, and deserves a chance to work on issues together and not have people they can never fully trust do it for them. The abuse and slander Harry and Meghan suffered is unconscionable and after how Princess Diana was killed, it seems lessons still haven’t been learned.
Top reviews from other countries
I’ve never read anything so heart-breaking in my entire life. There have been constant rumblings in the media saying what is written is lies, however I will say that Harry comes across as very believable and while I keep a reasonable amount of scepticism and cynicism I also know between the stories in the tabloids and this book which one I think is the more genuine.
What I got from it was a twelve-year-old boy who was left traumatised by the death of his mother and who didn’t get the love and support from his family he should have, because that family was too emotionally stunted and entirely dysfunctional and too preoccupied with appearances and public opinion. That left him completely lost for a number of years. So much so he didn’t believe and couldn’t accept the fact his mother had died and he whole heartedly believed she was in hiding for a number of years and would one day return. That isn’t delusional, that is being trapped in a perfectly natural stage of grief. In this case denial because nobody helped him overcome it. Indeed, from what he has written he was packed off back to boarding school shortly after the funeral and just left to get on with it – at this point let’s not forget it was not your standard run of the mill funeral. It was a funeral where he was expected to walk behind his mother’s coffin with his brother with the eyes of the world on him (and yes, I agree with what Harry says Charles Spencer said about that – it was barbaric).
Harry talks at length and with obvious fondness about his time in Africa and the army. (The chapter about his time in the army does go on a bit though). He says he found himself when he went to Africa and I agree but I believe he found his real purpose when he joined the army. He admits he wasn’t a scholar and when he joined the army, he found something he was good at, excelled at - he found a purpose. Plus, there he was no longer the prince, he was just one of the lads, anonymous and free. But the spectre of the greedy monster that is the media took that away from him and returned him to the goldfish bowl to be hunted, dissected and bullied. That greedy monster also made him incredibly isolated because he had to always question people’s integrity and motives. Did people want to know him genuinely or were they just looking to make a few quid by prostituting their association with him to the press. Plus, he always had to consider whose lives he was destroying by becoming involved with them and was it really worth it? How incredibly lonely he was, was reiterated loud and clear through this book in different ways. He was desperately trying to find something to cling on to and all the while he was searching, he was being repeatedly retraumatised by the monster that is the British press, and they through their actions compounded that loneliness.
The main running theme through this book is his (in my opinion justifiable) resentment and antipathy towards the media. That is the whole point of this book after all, he is speaking out telling his story and not the story the media have written about him his entire life. This is Harry setting the record straight, for those people who choose to believe it. These were the people who he held responsible for his mother’s death (and it was a completely reasonable assumption on his part as we saw how Diana was hunted by paps). In my opinion they really do have a lot to answer for and I find it incredibly telling that because Harry is standing up to them, and saying ‘they did this, this and this’ they obviously don’t like it, they don’t like being called out on their actions. So, in response they are deliberately picking out the trivial parts from the book, the filler which when read in context with the other parts makes complete sense and explains how he was feeling was then compounded by trivial things like sibling rivalry. But they are pulling these parts and using them to ridicule him, making him come across as a whining baby who should just ‘get over it’ as they have said using the title of the book as their pun - to ‘spare’ us. That is called gaslighting and it is what bullies do, and the press seem to be nothing but bullies.
The press do not like being held accountable for their actions and it makes them even more vicious in their attempts to silence those who dare to defy them and they have waged open warfare on Harry because he and Meghan sued them and won over the fact they ‘acquired’ a private letter sent to Meghan’s father. A letter which she was advised to send to him by the queen, and I believe they have further lawsuits pending. So gaslighting and intimidation seem to be the order of the day to try and shut them up and make them go away.
This has been the case for years though, the media believe they are untouchable and don’t like it when it is pointed out to them that they are really not. They come back with the ‘freedom of speech’ defence, ‘the free press’ and I quite agree with that because it is important to have freedom of speech but what they do is not freedom of speech it is quite the opposite in fact. They want to control the narrative, control what people think and say, sway public opinion and they do that by whipping up hysteria, invoking tribal instincts. Twisting the facts spinning things and printing half-truths, and sometimes downright bare faced lies, offering a drip feed of a certain opinion to manipulate the psyche, stir up feelings and emotions – and that is propaganda. They think that is acceptable and you can see why they think that because we all know they do it to a certain extent but we still go along with it, society as a whole is complicit in their duplicity under the guise of ‘the free press’. Then there is their argument that he is ‘fair game’ which is also a questionable one. The main argument against that assumption is he never asked for that life, he was born into it he had no choice but to be thrust in front of the cameras from the moment he was born. What I got from what he wrote was that he knows and accepts the media will be interested in him because of who he is and what he was born into but what he doesn’t accept is the levels of harassment and intrusion that he has endured, or the bare faced lies told about him.
What he has endured was truly horrific and nobody should have to live like that no matter who they are. I was barely half way through the book, when I had read the media had contacted the palace and lied about having a photograph of him to try and blackmail him into giving them a story – he called their bluff on that one which exposed their lie. They destroyed two personal relationships – one of the said girlfriends only lasted a couple of days before the harassment and intrusion made her rethink her choices. The other lasted longer and she once allegedly rang Harry in tears wondering why the paps always managed to find her and corner her wherever she was. It was quickly discovered that they managed that because they had put a tracker on her car. They harassed and bullied family members of people he was associated with. They illegally hacked his phone, they nearly ruined his army career; a journalist actually allegedly broke into Sandhurst while he was training and they spun it that they were doing it to expose the laxed security and showing Harry was in danger – Seriously?! They exposed where he was when he was in a warzone which was totally idiotically irresponsible as it was not only putting his life but all those around him at risk in that area. He was pulled out twice and retrained twice before the MOD said enough was enough and gave him a nice safe desk job which I believe ultimately made him take the decision to leave the army, and that was all despite the media crowing about how responsible they were imposing a blackout to maintain security and his safety. He talks repeatedly about two particular paps who come across to any reasonable human being as complete psychopaths, who cross the line repeatedly goading him just to try and get a rise out of him because they know that if they did get him to react, they would get more money for their photographs. Harry writes how he recalls his security once telling one that ‘they are going to get someone killed’ but they just didn’t care as long as they got their photograph. How can any of that behaviour be considered acceptable, justifiable or in the public interest?
He holds up his hands and admits he made it easy for them at times with his own behaviour, (for example the nazi uniform debacle) but on those occasions it also comes across loud and clear that he had made genuine mistakes and had lapses of judgement. The media then jumped on those mistakes, blew them out of all proportion whipping up hysteria to the point where in some cases questions were asked in parliament.
He repeatedly turned to his father for help, and was told repeatedly ‘just don’t read it’. Maintaining a dignified silence is all very well but when your own employees appear to be complicit in peddling the lies fed to the media that is an entirely different story and then it smacks more of I’d rather not get involved in case they turn on me again.
It is incredibly sad to read that he has been repeatedly let down by his own family but despite that, what also comes through loud and clear in his words is that he really doesn’t hold it against them, he is just saddened by it. He even makes excuses for his father’s behaviour and it is clear that he still loves them dearly despite everything. He tells of how he and William asked Charles not to marry Camilla. They wanted him to be happy, they saw Camilla made him happy so they agreed to endorse the relationship for him so he could be happy. They just asked him don’t marry her and yet history tells us he ignored that very reasonable and understandable request. His relationship with William is particularly moving, it is clear he looked up to William growing up and just wanted… needed to be close to him but it is also clear William didn’t want that making Harry feel understandably alone. Aside from the usual sibling rivalry I think William should be more pitied than blamed as it is clear that he is also irrevocably damaged by his childhood and because he is still ‘institutionalised’ his issues manifest in displays of jealousy, competitiveness and resentment.
But the most heart-breaking part of this story is the fact what has happened is inevitable because the monarchy is an institution, it is tradition and continuity and anything that challenges that is seen as a threat. It survives only because of public opinion, so that institution namely the people behind the scenes who seem to believe that they are the monarch rather than the monarch themselves and not the mere employees which they actually are, are complicit colluding with the media and manipulating circumstances making sure that the monster who controls what the public is supposed to think is kept happy and well fed so it doesn’t ultimately turn on them to the point where they are destroyed, thus also making them irelevent even if that means throwing members of that very family under the bus. The royal family is also incredibly ruthless, it has been seen time and time again through the years. It cold heartedly cuts off and disposes of those it sees as a threat to its survival (and in some cases rightly so) and sadly I believe that Harry, through kicking against that system, through standing up and saying hang on a minute, and by telling his story is their latest amputation.
I cannot say I enjoyed this book, because it is not meant to be enjoyed it was not written for entertainment but to enlighten. But reading it has confirmed for me a number things I have always suspected and disabused me of the hope that the royal family will ever learn from their mistakes.
They should never have renamed Opal Fruits as Starburst.
As for the rest……..