Pinterest Hidden Image

Read this candid and full book review of Spare by Prince Harry for all the unfiltered, thought-provoking details about this bestselling memoir, including a quick summary, pros and cons, takeaways, an honest opinion on whether it’s worth it, frequently asked questions, and more.

Spare by Prince Harry held in front of a bookshelf.

Spare was one of the most anticipated books of the year and one of the most viral books of the year, as it was written by one of the most famous and controversial people in the world (with a ghostwriter), and it offers a truly unprecedented look into the lives of British royalty.

The purpose of this review of Spare by Prince Harry is not to give you a full recitation of the book’s contents, but rather to help you decide whether to read it yourself and/or to get more information about it if you did already read it.

Quick Summary (Without Spoilers)

In Spare, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, gets personal on everything from his mom, the late Princess Diana, and the lifelong grief he experienced after her death, to the long road of events that led to his brother, Prince William, becoming his archnemesis; difficult conversations he had with his father, King Charles, and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth throughout his lifetime; his time in the British military; his disdain for the British media; and of course, his controversial marriage to Meghan Markle and becoming a father to Archie and Lillibet.

The book is separated into three sections, the first of which is focused on his grief in his teenage years, the second of which is focused on his military service; and the third of which is focused on his wife.

Top Takeaways (WITH Spoilers)

To me, when it comes to memoirs, takeaways are those things that surprised me upon reading them, and those things that will likely stay with me long after reading the book. Here, I don’t want to offer too many takeaways so that, if you haven’t read the book, it isn’t spoiled for you, but I’ll note a few of the high points that have been floating around the media anyway.

Warning: If you don’t want ANY spoilers at all, skip to the next section.

First, I’d like to note that I’m an American around the age of Prince Harry and Prince William. I’ve never even been to England and thus, I can never begin to fully understand Prince Harry and/or the monarchy. I also never served in the military, lost a parent as a child, or experienced fame. These are all substantial life events that I don’t feel qualified to fully critique as a reader, or even as a human discussing pop culture. I just don’t think it’s fair for me to say what I would do, or what he should have done, but rather to just state what I perceived his main points were.

That being said, my top takeaway is that Spare is, first and foremost, a story of trauma, grief that went untreated for many years, and familial dysfunction that continues to this day.

For me, grief felt like the most constant theme, and Princess Diana’s life and death felt like a thread woven through each story told in the memoir. Beyond that, it’s a story of how fame affects childhood trauma and grief, and even beyond that, it’s a story of how royalty affects fame, childhood trauma, and grief.

One of the most shocking things I learned in Spare was Prince Harry’s belief that his mother was still alive after her death and would return to him. It was an absolutely heartbreaking view of childhood grief and the lack of proper support he needed to cope with her death. I can’t imagine anyone reading this book and NOT coming away with a deeper understanding of the impact that losing a parent has on a person.

There are a lot of very personal stories in Spare as well, from Prince Harry losing his virginity to getting frostbite on his private parts. This is something I truly never would have expected to read about in his memoir.

I don’t know why this surprised me so much, but the many nicknames of the “characters” in this memoir also really stuck with me. For example, Harry is also known as Henry, Harold, my darling boy, Haz, H, Spike, my love, and even more! Ever wonder what he calls his brother? It’s “Willy.”

And although I’ve heard a lot about Prince Harry’s relationship and marriage to Meghan Markle over the years, there were a few additional stories about her that will stick with me, including more details about their first date than I’d heard before, and the loving reaction she had towards him after the birth of their daughter, Lillibet. The reader also hears about the fight they had that caused him to seek therapy.

Indeed, the final major takeaway I had from Spare, is how therapy ultimately forever changed Harry’s relationships with grief, his family, his royal role, and his wife. It seems a family reconciliation is not out of the question, but Prince Harry seems firm on his view of his experiences and how much he’s worked to cope with them and evolve, and that his family should do the same if there is ever to be a reunion of one of the world’s most notorious families.

Discuss these takeaways with my Spare book club questions.

Pros and Cons

A book review of Spare by Prince Harry also wouldn’t be complete without pros and cons.

Pros

Spare by Prince Harry is Harry’s story in his words and his voice his story in his voice for the first time in a book format. This is especially important, as Harry takes great issue with how his family and the media have presented the details of his life publicly.

Spare is unlike any royal book or celebrity memoir published before. It’s simply shocking and unprecedented in hundreds of years of the royal reign. Besides being a window into Prince Harry’s life, it pulls back the curtain on the dark sides of royalty itself and the British royals more specifically.

Spare does contain some different stories and details than the average reader heard during his Oprah interview, Netflix special, etc., particularly about his life pre-Meghan. (However, some are repeated.)


Cons

The biggest critique I have of Spare is that it generally only discussed events that happened after Princess Diana’s death. I would have loved to learn more about Prince Harry’s experiences and perspective as a royal youth. I think it also would have provided more context about the impact Princess Diana had in Harry’s life as his mother, particularly for younger readers who didn’t experience her influence in real life.

There’s a lot of discussion about Prince Harry’s time in the military, which occasionally felt drawn out, especially since so little was said about his childhood. It seemed this part of Prince Harry’s life was more significant to him, but to the reader, it felt a bit unbalanced, especially since his childhood was so unique and public.

Spare was written with/by a ghostwriter, and it definitely felt ghostwritten to me, especially since Prince Harry mentioned his struggles with reading and writing. The book seemed to be better off as a work of art for the professional assistance he received, but it also created some distance with the reader, who expects a memoir to feel like an author’s own diary.

At times, I thought the writing was overly sensationalized, one-sided, and even mean. It felt to me like certain sentences (like one alluding to Prince William’s increasing baldness) were below the belt and/or unfairly pointed blame, likely to garner attention. To me, however, it felt unnecessarily rude in conveying Prince Harry’s perspective, especially since one of his main arguments is that he was treated unfairly by his family.

Is Spare by Prince Harry worth reading?

Yes, Spare by Prince Harry is a good book worth reading. While some of the high points have already been discussed in the media, Prince Harry’s position is that he wrote this book to share his own story in his own words, as he feels his family and the media have shared untruths and half-truths about him during his entire lifetime. For this reason alone, a figure as public as Prince Harry deserves to have readers experience his own version of events.

Beyond that, it’s a well-written, forthright, surprising, insightful, and entertaining book, and the audiobook version is narrated particularly well by Prince Harry himself, in his very familiar (and quite lovely) voice.

I read this memoir as an audiobook, narrated by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex himself, and I definitely recommend this format as a more immersive reading experience for such a personal book.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Spare a best seller?

Yes. Spare by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is a #1 bestseller, as well as a record breaker, selling 1.4 million copies in a single day, which is the largest first-day sales for any nonfiction book published by Penguin Random House.

Why is Harry’s book called Spare?

Prince Harry’s book is called Spare in reference to a joke his father, King Charles, allegedly make upon his birth, calling Prince William the “heir” and Prince Harry the “spare.” It also implies that Harry has felt “less than” in the British royal family.

What will Spare be about?

Spare is Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex’s memoir about his life, from the time his mother, Princess Diana died, until the present. It offers both his own perspective on the very public events of his lifetime, as well as critiques of the British royal family and the media.

How long is Spare audiobook?

The audiobook of Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, has a run-time of 15 hours and 39 minutes when listened to at a speed of 1.0.

Who narrates Spare audiobook?

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, narrates the audiobook for his memoir, Spare.

Conclusion

This book review of Spare by Prince Harry reiterated that this powerful and popular memoir was very much about family dysfunction, grief, and therapy amongst the backdrop of fame and royalty. It’s well-written by a beloved ghostwriter, and it’s worth reading in order to hear an account of a very famous person’s life in his own words for the first time.


Buy Spare:

Save This Post Form

Save This Post!

Email yourself a link to this post so you can come back to it later.

By saving, you agree to receive email updates. Unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Comment or Question

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

13 Comments

  1. I read the book and agree, Spare is, first and foremost, a story of trauma, grief that went untreated for many years, and familial dysfunction that continues to this day. It’s also a story about unconditional love and its healing powers. I admire Harry’s courage, his strength as he tells his story with integrity and honesty. Bravo!

  2. I can’t believe that UK media tabloids can get away writing rude, trashy comments and lies about their life. No consequence at all. It seems media owns them like they are their puppets generating money for them, casting families against each other.

    1. @Susan Sevilla, how many British tabloids have you read that have said anything rude, trashy or told lies about their lives? Can you name them? And how much do you think Harry is making with all the nonsense that he’s talking and writing about? He’s the one that is casting families against each other for the almighty dollar. How rude and petty of him to remark about William’s baldness, that is the brother he professes to love.

  3. One correction about Prince Harry’s “member”. The frostbite occurred during a trip to the North Pole shortly before Prince William’s wedding, and had nothing to do with Harry’s losing his virginity.

  4. I thought the memoir was very well written and forthcoming. I feel that the tragedy of Diana’s death and his lack of counseling at that time colored thevrest of his life. His absolute hatred of the British press has most likely colored his perception of reality and may be the cause of many misunderstandings with his family. I wish he and his family all the best.

  5. My heart goes out for Prince Harry and his family. I watched his mother get married and I was a young girl just a few years younger than she. I watched her life events unfold, her death, those poor boys have to March behind her casket. I cried for them as well as for the loss of their mother. I had hoped the boys would grow up being there for one another. After reading this , my heart saddens even more that they aren’t there supporting one another like their mother would of wished. Just know as long as your doing the right thing and are happy, she will be happy for you. May one day you both find forgiveness in your hearts to be the loving brothers you should be.

  6. Harold is a man full of hate and anger. He needs counseling. I am so tired of see him/they in the news. His Mother would be very disappointed in his behavior. She would not be at all pleased at what he’s done and continues to do.

    1. @Kim, not true. That is a terrible thing to say. If you don’t care there’s plenty of other books & stories you can read or watch or listen to. Suppose you are 8 & your Mom died in a horrid accident. He’s had no grief counseling or help after his loss. His father seemed only to care about his next wife, Camilla. There is no warmth in his relationship with his father & a parent has a responsibility toward a child by providing safety, love, & caring. His father felt forced to marry Dianna & the second son is not as prized as the first son, who will be king one day. His father was left with royal caregivers for a year (!) while they visited all the countries in the Commonwealth. So Charles was devoid of parenting at a young age. Hard to give when you don’t get the love you need. So give him a break.

  7. I’m glad I read the book. I thought how traumatic it must be losing a parent,especially one as warm as Diana), and not have a support team to discuss feelings!! And the UK media….should be ashamed of themselves! How some were not arrested leaves me speechless. Can people just cut Harry & his family some slack?

    1. @Nancy, I agree. It seems to me people are hating on him extra hard because the media is telling them to. I wonder how many have actually read the book. I did read it and I felt a great deal of compassion for Harry. Just because he grew up “rich” and “royal”, doesn’t mean he had it easy. He has had a difficult life. Having money doesn’t solve all problems and fame is a horrible burden. I feel sorry for him having to live in a fishbowl his entire life. Sure, people can argue he’s asking for it now, but he sure didn’t ask for all of this attention for the majority of his life. He’s just trying to have a voice and people are just stuck on this idea of criticizing him no matter what. And so many are criticizing him for some of the same things THEY do. It feels very hypocritical of the public and the media to do this.