Prince Harry will offer a livestream and bonus memoir content, but who is all this for?

“Spare” is anything but spare, but the prince is going to include even more information than before

By Alison Stine

Staff Writer

Published February 28, 2023 3:00PM (EST)

Prince Harry's book on display in a bookstore on January 22, 2023 in Bath, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Prince Harry's book on display in a bookstore on January 22, 2023 in Bath, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The paperback release of a book is usually met with little fanfare. Coming a year or so after a initial hardcover, it's a chance to get a book in a lightweight, often cheaper form. Sometimes, the cover is refreshed. But authors don't usually host book parties for their paperbacks, go on special reading tours — or draw in readers twice. It is the same book, after all, only in a slightly different format.

Of course, "usual" doesn't apply when the author of the paperback is Prince Harry

Marie Claire and others have reported that the prince is mulling adding one or more new chapters when the paperback of his bestselling memoir "Spare" arrives. The paperback version is expected later this year or in early 2024. First released in January 2023, "Spare" was ghostwritten with J. R. Moehringer and published by Penguin Random House. The book was a bestseller as soon as it was announced. It details Harry's childhood as a royal, including the death of his mother Diana, through his adulthood, marriage to Meghan Markle and the couple's decision to step back from royal duties. 

It details a lot, which leaves a reader wondering: What could be left to tell in this new chapter? On Tuesday, it was announced that Harry will also appear in a livestream this weekend with doctor and author Gabor Maté via the "Spare" website. For $33.09 (more than the cover price of his hardcover), Harry will answer questions received ahead of time from his virtual audience. With his original book selling more than 3.2 million copies worldwide its first week alone, who exactly would this proposed new chapter be for? What else could Harry spill in his virtual event? And could new content really undo the damage the book has already done to its author's reputation?

In "Spare," Harry left few stones unturned. The memoir describes in detail the loss of his virginity (to a slightly older woman behind a pub), difficult relationships with both his father, King Charles III, and older brother William, whom Harry alleges physically assaulted him in 2019, ripping his clothes in an argument.

The book doesn't shy away from trying to explain Harry's 2005 decision to wear a Nazi costume (according to "Spare," it was William and Kate Middleton's idea). It also dwells on grief, detailing how young Harry learned of his mother's death and how he and his brother were expected to show a brave, royal face while in very public mourning. 

One of the issues with memoir as a genre is that it takes time to fully process and understand experiences. 

But wait. There's more. In an interview with The Telegraph in January, Harry said the first draft of the book was 800 pages. It was halved in editing. "It could have been two books, put it that way. And the hard bit was taking things out," he told The Telegraph. Some of what ended up on the cutting room floor? More revelations about his difficult relationships with his father and brother. Harry admitted, "I cut [my] memoir in half to spare my family."

It's unclear if possible new bonus content for the paperback of "Spare" could include these stories, as Harry was adamant, at least in January, that he could not tell them, not without repercussions. He told The Telegraph, "There are some things that have happened, especially between me and my brother, and to some extent between me and my father, that I just don't want the world to know."

If the paperback of "Spare" spares these stories, what else might it include? Marie Claire quotes a source who told Page Six, "Readers are eager to know [Harry and wife Meghan Markle's] feelings about the royal backlash they have suffered after the airing of their Netflix doc and the publication of 'Spare.'"

Are they? One of the issues with memoir as a genre is that it takes time to fully process and understand experiences. It's difficult to write with any clarity or insight about an event that happened to you yesterday, for example. Or a month ago when your book was released. As a proponent of therapy, Harry seems like he would understand this, the need not to skip the lengthy process of introspection and write about something so new, still ongoing. Why rush self-reflection unless it's shallow?

"Spare" lowered Harry's profile. It seems unlikely that a new chapter or two could raise it.

Are these potential new revelations so different from the bombshells already dropped by the book? What could it be, hate mail? We already know, because it has been reported on repeatedly, that the royal family refused to answer journalists' questions about Harry's book, maintaining stony silence, a stiff upper lip and all, though inevitably sources said that William was "absolutely horrified," according to Us Weekly. Meanwhile, Charles was "outraged" while Entertainment Weekly said the royal family was "appalled" and William specifically "furious."

Insert your favorite disgusted synonym here. 

And there's the response from readers. In the wake of the book's publication, the previously quite beloved Harry saw his reputation change, and not for the better. The memoir discusss in detail such personal stories as the time he got frostbite on his penis, the time he got high on laughing gas, the time he got high on magic mushrooms and cocaine and thought a toilet was talking to him. In their review, the BBC called his book, "the weirdest book ever written by a royal." 

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Harry's candidness was met with surprise, dismay, even disgust, causing some previous fans to turn against the favorite prince. "The monarchy is becoming a laughing stock," one reader told The Guardian for an article about "Spare" readers' reactions (few were positive). "Harry now seems as entitled as the others," the reader said.

For the fastest-selling nonfiction book of all time, "Spare" has done a rare feat: it lowered Harry's profile, tarnishing it in the views of many. It seems unlikely that a new chapter or two could raise it. If that is the thinking here, Harry and his advisors may be taking a page out of the royal family's own playbook: when in doubt, double down. 

By Alison Stine

Alison Stine is a former staff writer at Salon. She is the author of the novels "Trashlands" and "Road Out of Winter," winner of the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and others.

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