Spare by Prince Harry Summary, Key Figures and Themes

“Spare” is Prince Harry’s memoir, published in 2023, offering an intimate account of his life within and outside the British royal family. 

The title refers to the phrase “heir and a spare,” highlighting his position as the younger brother to the heir apparent. The book delves into his experiences with grief following the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, his military service, and the challenges he faced due to media scrutiny and royal protocols.


The narrative begins in 2021, following Prince Philip’s funeral, where Harry meets with his father, King Charles, and brother, Prince William, who struggle to understand his decision to leave the royal family.

Part 1 delves into Harry’s childhood, marked by the tragic loss of his mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash in 1997. 

The young prince grapples with grief and struggles to find his place within the royal family. He attends boarding school and faces academic challenges, while rumors of drug abuse circulate in the media.

Harry finds solace and purpose during his gap year, working on an Australian farm and assisting an AIDS charity in Lesotho. 

However, the relentless paparazzi attention and a controversial photo of him in a Nazi costume further complicate his life. He then embarks on a military career, serving in Afghanistan as an airspace controller and later as a helicopter pilot.

Part 2 explores Harry’s post-military life, marked by anxiety and struggles to adapt to civilian life. 

A racist video of him goes viral, and his relationships with Chelsy Davy, Caroline Flack, and Florence Brudenell-Bruce end due to media intrusion. A trip to Las Vegas results in scandalous photos, further fueling public scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Prince William marries Kate Middleton, and they start a family. Harry finds purpose in trekking to the North and South Poles with injured soldiers and founding the Invictus Games. 

He also contributes to conservation efforts in Africa.

Part 3 focuses on Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle, a biracial American actress. 

The couple faces intense media scrutiny and racist attacks, prompting Harry to request legal action from the palace, which is met with resistance. Despite the challenges, they marry in 2018.

The birth of their son, Archie, brings joy but is overshadowed by escalating tensions within the family and relentless negative press. 

Meghan experiences suicidal thoughts, and the couple decides to sue several tabloids. 

Their attempt to negotiate a part-time royal role in South Africa fails, leading to their decision to step back as senior royals and relocate to North America.

The memoir concludes with the death of Queen Elizabeth and Harry’s return to London for the funeral. 

He reflects on his strained relationship with his brother and father, and the emotional toll of his experiences. 

Back in California, he finds a hummingbird in his house and sets it free, symbolizing his newfound freedom and hope for the future.

Spare By Prince Harry Summary

Key Figures

Prince Harry

The memoir’s protagonist and narrator, Prince Harry, offers a candid and intimate portrayal of his life as a member of the British royal family. 

He grapples with the trauma of losing his mother at a young age, the constant scrutiny of the media, and the expectations placed upon him due to his royal status. Harry’s narrative reveals his struggles with mental health, his military service, and his desire to find his own path outside the confines of royal tradition. 

His love for Meghan Markle and their shared experiences with racism and media harassment further shape his decision to step back from royal duties and seek a more independent life.

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle, an American actress, enters Prince Harry’s life and becomes his wife. She is depicted as a strong, independent woman who faces intense media scrutiny and racist attacks due to her biracial heritage. 

Meghan’s experiences with the British tabloids and the lack of support from the royal family contribute to her and Harry’s decision to leave the UK. 

Her miscarriage and the birth of their children are significant events in their lives, highlighting the challenges they faced and their desire to protect their family.

Prince William

Prince William, Harry’s older brother, is portrayed as the “heir” to the throne, burdened with the expectations and responsibilities that come with it. 

The relationship between the brothers is complex, marked by both affection and rivalry. As they grow older, their paths diverge, and tensions arise due to their different roles and personalities. 

The rift between them deepens following Harry’s marriage to Meghan, culminating in a physical altercation.

King Charles III

King Charles III, formerly Prince Charles, is depicted as a distant and sometimes unsympathetic father figure. 

Harry recounts instances where his father failed to offer emotional support or protect him from the media. The conflict between them intensifies as Harry challenges royal traditions and expresses his desire for a different life. 

Charles’s disapproval of Harry’s relationship with Meghan and his reluctance to take action against the tabloids further strain their relationship.

Princess Diana

Princess Diana, Harry’s mother, is a prominent figure in the memoir, despite her absence. Her tragic death in a car crash casts a long shadow over Harry’s life, shaping his experiences and influencing his decisions. 

Memories of his mother’s warmth, compassion, and struggles with the media haunt Harry, fueling his desire to protect his own family and escape the same fate.

Other Key Figures

The memoir also features other notable figures, including Queen Elizabeth II, Camilla Parker Bowles, and various members of the royal staff. 

Their interactions with Harry and Meghan provide further insight into the dynamics of the royal family and the challenges the couple faced. 

The media, particularly the British tabloids, play a significant role in the narrative, highlighting their relentless pursuit of the royals and their impact on their lives.


The Impact of Grief and Trauma

The book opens with a prologue that highlights a central theme: the enduring effects of grief and trauma. 

Prince Harry recounts a tense meeting with his father, King Charles III, and brother, Prince William, after Prince Philip’s funeral. 

The brothers are unable to understand Harry’s decision to step back from royal duties and relocate to California. This disconnect stems from Harry’s deep-rooted trauma following the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

Throughout “Spare,” Harry grapples with the loss of his mother, describing vivid memories of her death, the media frenzy that followed, and the emotional turmoil he experienced in the aftermath. 

He reveals how the trauma manifested in his life, leading to substance abuse, anxiety, and a sense of isolation. 

This raw honesty sheds light on the profound impact of grief, particularly for someone growing up in the public eye.

The Constraints and Expectations of Royal Life

Another prominent theme explored in the memoir is the stifling nature of royal life and the heavy burden of expectations placed on its members. 

Prince Harry details the constant scrutiny, the lack of privacy, and the relentless pressure to conform to archaic traditions. 

He recounts instances where his personal desires and aspirations were suppressed in favor of upholding the royal image.

The memoir provides a glimpse into the gilded cage that is royal life, highlighting the toll it takes on individual identity and mental well-being. 

Harry’s decision to step back from his royal duties can be seen as a direct response to these constraints, a desperate attempt to break free from the suffocating environment he grew up in. 

It’s a testament to his courage and resilience, as he chose personal happiness and freedom over the rigid expectations of his royal birthright.

The Consequences of Press Harassment and Misinformation

The relentless scrutiny and intrusion of the press is a recurring theme that casts a shadow over Prince Harry’s life. 

From a young age, he was subjected to constant media attention, with every aspect of his life dissected and scrutinized. 

This relentless pursuit of sensationalism often led to the spread of misinformation and outright falsehoods, causing immense distress and harm to Harry and those close to him.

In “Spare,” Harry details the devastating impact of this press harassment on his mental health and relationships. 

He describes how the constant invasion of privacy and the relentless pursuit of sensational stories created a toxic environment, ultimately contributing to his decision to step back from royal duties. 

His experiences highlight the dangers of unchecked media power and the urgent need for greater accountability and ethical reporting.

The Search for Love and Belonging

Beneath the royal facade, “Spare” reveals Prince Harry’s deeply human yearning for love and connection. 

Throughout the memoir, he describes his struggles with loneliness and isolation, feelings exacerbated by the unique circumstances of his upbringing. 

He details his romantic relationships, both successful and unsuccessful, and the challenges of finding a partner who could understand and navigate the complexities of his life.

The memoir culminates in Harry’s love story with Meghan Markle, a relationship that brought him a sense of belonging and purpose he had long sought. 

Their union, however, was met with intense scrutiny and racial prejudice, further highlighting the challenges they faced in their quest for love and happiness. 

Despite the obstacles, their bond remained strong, serving as a testament to the enduring power of love in the face of adversity.