Spare me any more news about Spare

In my last blog, I offered up some suggestions to add to your reading list for 2023. Looking ahead, I can safely say that Spare, the tell-all, woe-is-me book by semi-Prince Harry, will not be on next year’s list. 

It is no exaggeration to say that Spare has been a sensation, ensuring that Harry and wife Meghan will be able to go on without doing any real work for years to come. The world seemed enthralled with Spare, at least for a week. Harry, who has taken up residence in California of course (remember when he briefly pretended to move to B.C.?), went on one of the great publicity blitzes of all time. He snagged a coveted interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes (CBS aired a full-hour interview with the tattle-tale prince as well), was interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America, and guested on Stephen Colbert’s late-night show. And then there were thousands of newspaper articles and TV reports, filled with juicy details about the courageous lad’s road from riches to even more riches. Before the book came out, there was a self-serving six-part Netflix “documentary” about the glamorous couple’s life, and the ultimate celebrity imprimatur, a fawning Oprah interview.  

The book is so full of family dirt, that it would have killed Queen Elizabeth if she hadn’t already been dead. The fact that all of the juicy bits from the book were revealed even before it went on sale didn’t seem to hurt. Spare sold a staggering 1.43 million copies in the U.K., U.S. and Canada on its first day, a Guiness World Record for single day sales, on its way to selling more than 3 million copies. If you’re interested, but not willing (or too smart) to spend $35 on the book (and you’d be nuts to pay full price), then try the library. But be prepared to wait. The Edmonton Public Library has 1,080 holds on a ridiculous 180 copies (and another 402 holds on nine large print copies). By the time you get the book, Harry will have lost what’s left of his hair. 

The unanswered question regarding the book’s sales is … why? Why were millions of people willing to shell out dollars, pounds and euros for a tawdry, self-serving tell-all about an inconsequential member of an inconsequential family? The British fascination with the royal family I can understand; it’s their royal family (and, sigh, ours). But Americans seem equally obsessed, which I can only attribute to America’s rabid celebrity obsession – after all, they made the untalented, unskilled, unappealing Khardashians celebrity billionaires. Sad to say, millions of people love celebrities dishing dirt on other celebrities, particularly if they’re family. Personally, I think trashing your family for profit really stinks. 

Ultimately, what will be the impact of Spare? Will it be regime-changing? Important? A turning point?

Nah. The royal family is, as they say in corporate America, too big to fail. After a week, the public’s attention has already gone elsewhere. In May, King Charles will have his garish, silly coronation, and all will be forgotten. Harry will never be any more than a minor royal; he’s fifth in line, even behind brother William’s children. While William will someday be king, Harry will never be anything but, well, a spare. 

But Harry has won one significant battle with his brother William – he has kept more of his hair. Speaking as a guy with an expanding spot of scalp on his head, that’s a major victory. 

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By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

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