“A lifetime’s worth of explosive family get-togethers compacted into a memoir”, Susie Lau weighs in on Spare

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

By now, we’ve ALL (and by all I mean everyone who isn’t living under a heaving igneous rock), voluntarily or not, absorbed at least an iota of the Harry/Meghan drama — whether it’s filtered through the Netflix documentary, the memoir (officially the UK’s fastest selling non-fiction book ever), the big interviews or the many, MANY media op-eds, rehashed click-bait listicles and social media reverberations that have gone down.

When the Uber driver — who normally would rather chat to his wife on speaker phone — from out of the blue instigates conversation, ‘So do you think Prince Harry has gone too far?’ because they’re itching to talk to ANYONE about the topic du jour, you know it has reached peak popularity. Even when you express how bored and uninterested you are about the whole subject, you’ve still unwittingly fallen into the Haz and Meg hole.

At the heart of the Sussexes’ media vortex is a good old fashioned family drama, the themes of which have probably been percolating for most of us on the back of a Christmas break, when families come together in the hope that the sheer amount of roast spuds and gravy will gloss over the frictions and tensions bubbling beneath the surface. In my family, we literally bury pain and anger under a hotpot meal. Eat enough sirloin dipped in umami sauce and you’ll forget about your parents’ incessant criticism of your failings. Unless you’re one of THOSE people who have a functional family set-up where you openly talk about FEELINGS, we’ll all be familiar with the repressed aggressions and grievances that boil over in covert WhatsApp groups and out-of-earshot whispered convos. The Sussexes, of course, have a platform like no other to air their family bitchfest.

The Sussexes, of course, have a platform like no other to air their family bitchfest

In particular, Harry’s tell-all, Spare, is like a lifetime’s worth of explosive family get-togethers compacted into a memoir, dressed up in try-hard, truncated prose. Every resentment from the macro to the micro is there in titillating form. Yes, there’s the weaponisation of the tabloid press. The heir versus spare malignancy. And the haunting death of one of the most famous women ever to have walked the Earth. But then there’s the shit Christmas pressie from a relative — say, Princess Margaret’s gift of a ballpoint pen with a rubber fish on it. Or no presents at all, as purportedly ‘Willy’ and Kate bristled at the absence of their ‘Easter presents’. (Harry is right, btw — Easter pressies shouldn’t be a thing.) The awks relationship between siblings’ missuses played out through the unwilling sharing of lipgloss. Throwing your toys out of the pram with your bruv by maintaining the presence of bum fluff facial hair. I’m sure her late Majesty the Queen eyerolled at that one.

The litany of mundane deets are the gift that keeps giving in Harry’s tome. Virginity lost behind the back of a pub. Frostbitten todger slathered in Elizabeth Arden. Going gooey-eyed in the fruit and veg aisle of Waitrose. Sure, he’s dropping his trews and shrooming with palaces, paparazzi and unquestionable privilege as the backdrop.

But as it turns out, even as the central protagonist of the royal family is supposedly anointed by God (or a weird oil inside Westminster Abbey), they really are ‘just like us’ when it comes to holding grudges and maintaining embittered feuds. The mystique jig is up. And so the collective pedestal on which the royal family is held aloft by this country (if public opinion polling is anything to go by) continues to be chipped away. Only time will tell.