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‘Spare’: Decoding the title of Prince Harry’s memoir

"Spare takes readers immediately back to one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow—and horror," a press release by Penguin Random House said

prince harry memoirPrince Harry's memoir 'Spare' will be released in January 2023 (Source: AP; princeharrymemoir.com)

The highly anticipated memoir of Prince Harry, titled ‘Spare’ – “a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief” – is all set to hit global bookstores on January 10, 2023.

Spare takes readers immediately back to one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow—and horror,” a press release by Penguin Random House said. “As Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling—and how their lives would play out from that point on.”

It added that the book, for the Duke of Sussex, is “his story at last”.

In addition to the possible explosive revelations that the memoir might make, what has also piqued fans’ interest is the rather interesting title of the book. So, what exactly does it mean?


‘Their heir and the spare’ or ‘the spare to the heir’ is a common phrase used to describe the monarch and his/her sibling. As such, the term ‘spare’ refers to Prince Harry’s longtime label as the backup king should Prince William – ‘the heir’ – not become the monarch.

Historically, British monarchs have tried to ensure they have at least two offspring to ensure the succession of their family’s line in case death befell the firstborn, the original heir to the throne. “Simply put: they were human insurance—and, once their older brother reached a mature age, expendable,” Vogue noted.

According to culture and brand expert Nick Ede, the choice of the title ‘Spare’ is “not only provocative but also lends into Harry’s sense of humour too”. “Although it is a bold choice, it’s a brave one and it sets out immediately that this book will be anything but showing that Prince Harry is a spare. The use of the singular title is one of empowerment and strength. The use of the singular title is one of empowerment and strength,” he was quoted as saying by dailymail.co.uk.

According to a report by independent.co.uk, Prince Diana always wanted to protect her sons from the “heir and the spare” labels as she was “troubled” by them. “I think she was troubled about it. That’s a standard thing for families. One of the kids who do better in school or becomes a better athlete seems to be a little more charming and lovable. How do you make the other kids feel that they’re just enough? It happens pretty much to all families. And in this case, the stakes are much higher because one is presumably going to be king someday,” James Patterson, author of Diana, William, and Harry: The Heartbreaking Story of a Princess and Mother, told Fox News Digital in August.

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Ede also reflected on the cover image of the memoir which shows a close-up portrait of Harry staring straight into the camera. “The cover image is not one of him looking dapper and polished but one of him looking, relaxed, stripped back and quietly confident. It doesn’t rest on a stylised image but one that is him looking honestly into the camera ready to bear his vulnerabilities and story to the media,” he said.

He added that the image is of a man “who has been through a lot and who is here to tell that story of grief and love in equal measure”.

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First published on: 28-10-2022 at 13:49 IST
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