Last night’s Golden Globes were…eventful!…but the talk of the town still seems to be the rollout of Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare. Emerging details are delicious and moreish: Sibling fisticuffs! A frostbitten penis! Losing one’s virginity to a pony girl in a field! King Charles doing a headstand in his boxer shorts!?
The Duke of Sussex’s multimillion-dollar book traces the devastating loss of his mother when he was 12; his tour of duty in Afghanistan; the Sussexes’ attempts at de-famous-ing themselves; and Harry’s ongoing, visceral hatred for the press; he calls one editor “an infected pustule on the arse of humanity,” a chef’s kiss of an insult. Readers and critics are divided on whether this tome is an exploration of what it means to be the spare to Britain’s most famous heir, a study of a life lived in a palace with more leaks than the Titanic, or a form of slow-release vengeance. It’s hard, at times, to see if Harry is seething with inherited privilege or pragmatically critical of his own gilded cage. Is he setting the record straight, or giving the gossip mill another spin?
The misogynistic undertones of the royal conversation are shifting. For years, we’ve watched as the speculation focused on warring wives-in-waiting, splitting hairs over tights and dresses (literally). But attention has finally turned away from she said, she said to clashing princes. And I wonder if anyone really need pick a side? It does feel as though both men are juggling hereditary duty and public opinion with family realities, and I sense that William simply has more to lose if he rocks the boat.
The royal family missed a trick with Meghan. When a woman of color married in, the opportunity was ripe to embrace her—a shorthand representation of the well-talked-about modernity the royals are so often keen to convey. Meghan was an actress who was pro the protocols of The Firm, respectful of its airs and graces. But within a few years, she and her husband took a long look around and decided to denounce and bounce. It reads badly for Buckingham Palace, from where I sit. And for the record, I cannot be bothered to get back into the debate about whether the backlash against Meghan was (and continues to be) racist; I’ve read enough self-congratulatory “I hate her and she’s Black” tweets to last a lifetime.
But after this tell-all memoir, what’s really left to be said? Are there any royal stones left unturned, any creepy crawlies that haven’t been exposed to sunlight? The truth is, it doesn’t matter; the crown will prevail and the talk will continue. Any royal information (all those well-planned leaks) serves only to keep us all glued to royal life, as romantic and mysterious and inaccessible as it continues be. We’ll never quite get it, so we’ll be forever second-guessing it—that’s the insatiable draw. As long as there’s a royal family, there will be pomp and pageantry and polls about abolition. There will be nastiness and nit-picking and negativity. There will be weddings and coronations and Westminster Abbeys. There will be Charles, then William, then George, so saddle up. Long live speculation. Don’t deny you quite enjoy it.