Prince Harry's Memoir Title Is "At Best Cynical, At Worst Derogatory," Royal Expert Says

"Spare" is definitely not the *best* way to describe yourself.

Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince Harry's much-anticipated memoir finally has a) a release date, b) a title, and c) a cover.

SPARE will be released on Jan. 10, 2023, featuring the Duke of Sussex' serious face in close up—a series of revelations which caused a not-insignificant amount of emotional unrest in my life yesterday. (I am never overdramatic.)

Almost immediately, Big Opinions began to emerge about that incredible title in particular. It's certainly arresting, and commentators disagree as to what it tells us about what to expect in terms of content.

Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams is concerned that this will be a bitter account of the prince's life.

"This is not a book that should have been published, certainly not in the early months of his father King Charles’s reign," Fitzwilliams told Express.

"When someone refers to themselves as a 'spare,' it is, at best, cynical, and at worst derogatory.

"As a future Queen, it was sometimes said, Diana’s duty was to produce an 'heir and a spare.'

"Harry’s choice of title, published almost two years to the day when the Sussexes announced they were stepping back only subsequently to step down as senior working royals, is ominous."

I have to say, I'm inclined to agree. Even though the "spare" appellation is meant as a tongue-in-cheek concept, who would want to be widely regarded as the supporting character for their sibling?

Fitzwilliams continued, "The rift between the brothers is unlikely to be healed by this book. Did he, we will wonder, feel overshadowed as the title suggests?

"He will probably give interviews and there will undoubtedly be serialisations and probably a good deal of controversy. With a title like this, the Palace will be very worried."

prince harry spare memoir

(Image credit: Penguin Random House)

For his part, body language expert and royal commentator Andy Coley sees the title as a more factual and positive one.

"It’s a great title," Coley tells Marie Claire.

"'The heir and the spare' is a very evocative title, and also it sums up his royal role. He isn’t in direct line to the throne BUT a substitute should anything have happened to William before he had kids (or if anything happened to his entire family).

"It also connects to expressions such as 'feeling like a spare part’ or not being used, much like 'the spare room.' We joke in our house that I’m my stepson's 'sparerent.'

"In essence, like a spare tire or spare change of clothes, he's the backup to the line of succession for a throne. Something you have if you can but hope you don't need!"

Well, I don't know about you, but I don't love feeling like I'm not needed!!!

But for Coley, this title is less about airing dirty laundry and more about what will sell the memoir to readers.

"I think it's very factually true to be honest, and of course designed to be provocative to ensure people read it," he explains.

"You spend your life in the limelight, never quite the main event, but always the understudy.

"Understudies still have the learn the lines, they still get paid, they just wait in the wings, ready in case they're needed. Hardly hard down by, but simply the life of a 'second child' of the monarch."

Of course, it's not always easy to feel sorry for Prince Harry, who was born into one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the world. Still, though, I have to ask whether feeling like an understudy all your life is likely to lead to happiness and fulfilment. I suppose we will have answers soon enough. Can it be Jan. 10 already????

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.