If you’ve read Prince Harry’s memoir Spare – and many millions have – you’ll know it lays bare his relationship wth his family in unsparing detail.
And that same level detail has now been shared about Harry’s relationship with the man behind the book, his ghostwriter JR Moehringer. This time though it’s JR, rather than HRH, that is sharing the emotions at play behind the scenes.
In a devastatingly unflinching portrait of what it is like to work on such an intimate project with the California-based Prince, who made a fleeting visit to the UK this weekend for his father’s Coronation, JR writes in a first person piece for The New Yorker of Harry’s “flushed cheeks” amid a “shouting” argument.
He explains of the conflict, which arose during a late night Zoom call: “My head was pounding, my jaw was clenched, and I was starting to raise my voice.
“And yet some part of me was still able to step outside the situation and think, this is so weird. I’m shouting at Prince Harry.
“Then, as Harry started going back at me, as his cheeks flushed and his eyes narrowed, a more pressing thought occurred: Whoa, it could all end right here.”
The two were discussing a training exercise which saw Prince Harry captured by pretend terrorists, who tormented him for hours before about his dead mother, Princess Diana.
Harry was determined to end the scene with the comeback he gave to his captors, but JR felt this would dilute the true meaning of the passage. For months he had crossed out Harry’s witty retort, only for the Prince to put it back in. Finally, Harry decided to call rank – and tempers on both sides were raised.
Saying that this was by no means their first row, JR admitted that this time felt “different” with Harry “just glaring into the camera”.
Harry finally explained that his retort was about more than just showing off – it proved he was not the idiot he was often made out to be.
JR writes in the fascinating piece that Harry “calmly explained that, all his life, people had belittled his intellectual capabilities, and this flash of cleverness proved that, even after being kicked and punched and deprived of sleep and food, he had his wits about him.”
However after listening to JR’s reasoning, Harry finally agreed to leave the response out of the book.
He was right to listen – the results of their collaboration proved a success, at least if judged by book sales.
The controversial memoir became the fastest-selling non-fiction book in the UK since records began in 1998.
According to Nielsen BookData, which collects and provides information on distribution and sales measurement of books, Spare sold 467,183 copies in its first week alone.
The memoir included claims that the Prince of Wales physically attacked Harry and teased him about his panic attacks, and that the King put his own interests above Harry’s and was jealous of both Meghan and Kate.
Spare is the only non-fiction book to make it into the top 10 fastest-selling books in the UK since records began.
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