Prince Harry Worries About Prince William’s Kids: “At Least One Will End Up Like Me, the Spare”

“William and I have talked about it once or twice, and he has made it very clear to me that his kids are not my responsibility.”

Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince Harry revealed to The Telegraph that he worries about older brother Prince William’s kids Prince Charlotte and Prince Louis, saying that one of them will end up as the “spare” to Prince George’s “heir” in the next generation of royals.

The role of “spare” so deeply defined Harry’s life that he chose to make the nickname the title of his memoir, released this week to record-breaking sales.

“As I know full well, within my family, if it’s not us,” Harry said, pointing to himself, “it’s going to be someone else.”

He added “and, though William and I have talked about it once or twice, and he has made it very clear to me that his kids are not my responsibility, I still feel a responsibility knowing that out of those three children, at least one will end up like me, the spare. And that hurts, that worries me.”

For those new to the royal lexicon, “the heir and the spare” refers to the eldest child, or the heir to the throne, and then the other children born after him or her, somewhat crudely referred to as the spare, in case anything should happen to the future monarch.

In his memoir, Harry revealed that his father, King Charles, even referred to his younger son as such on the day of his birth, telling wife Princess Diana “Wonderful! Now you’ve given me an heir and a spare—my work is done.”

Whereas Harry was the only “spare” to older brother William’s “heir,” technically both Charlotte and Louis could be called by that title; prior to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, Charlotte, though older than younger brother Louis, would have been leapfrogged by him in the order of succession because he is a male but, thanks to the 2013 act, despite being female, Charlotte remains third in line to the throne, directly behind George and ahead of Louis, regardless of her gender. 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.