spare a moment

James Longman posts his honest review of Prince Harry’s memoir: “Netflix is probably really pissed”

James Longman and Prince Harry
James Longman and Prince Harry (Photo: ABC/Prince Harry)

Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, hit bookstores yesterday. Among the first to read it was ABC foreign correspondent James Longman. The gay, British reporter gave his personal reaction to the book with a video posted to Instagram.

Check it out below.


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Longman warns people not to judge the book on the short excerpts they may have read about over the last few days.

“It is really well written, beautifully written. You wouldn’t get an idea of that from all the excerpts you see because none of it is in context. I know he’s had a ghostwriter, but there are moments that are really, really beautiful.”

Longman says Harry’s voice comes off the pages, “and for that reason, it’s very compelling. I think Netflix must be really pissed because all the good detail is in this book. Netflix … wasn’t much substance, in my view. But the book? Packed full of lots of detail.”

Longman says Harry’s memories and love for his mother, Diana, run through Spare. It’s fast-paced and moving.

“He’s not that mean about his dad,” says Longman, despite what you may have heard.

“He basically paints [Charles] as a kind of emotionally, slightly out of touch, older English man, which, as an English person, I recognize that person. That’s like a thing here … it’s not like he’s machine-gunned everyone in his family.”

“Similarly, with Camillia. Yes, he says there was an effort to rehabilitate her image. Maybe he’s gone a bit far saying she was this kind of mastermind. But at the same time, he’s sweet about her. He says ‘We didn’t blame her. In fact, we’d gladly forgive her if she could just make pa happy.'”

“Ridiculous … lavish lifestyle”

Longman is not without criticism, saying Harry “doesn’t necessarily see just how ridiculously privileged his life is. It is ridiculous.” He recalls a passage in which the prince casually says he and Meghan had to call Elton John for something as as example of their extraordinary lives.

“It’s a very lavish lifestyle.”

“You can absolutely have had a very traumatic time in your life and been privileged at the same time,” Longman acknowledges.

At the end of the day, it’s Harry’s recollections of his life, Longman says, so even if his unusual, “isolated” world seems ridiculous, what else is he going to write about?

The other thing that comes out of the book is Harry’s hatred of the press.

In conclusion, Longman enjoyed the book for being “packed full of detail. It’s a story about a boy who never really, properly grieved his mother, and has been chased down by the press ever since. It’s a very good book, I think.”

Related: Prince Harry slams Diana’s gay butler for “milking” her death: “It made my blood boil”

Other reviews of Spare

Elsewhere, others have been giving their verdict. Writing for the BBC, Sean Coughlan calls Spare, “the strangest book ever written by a royal … part confession, part rant and part love letter. In places it feels like the longest angry drunk text ever sent.”

In the New York Times, Alexandra Jacobs says, “Like its author, ‘Spare’ is all over the map — emotionally as well as physically.”

Jacobs says Harry sends out mixed messages: “In the prince’s full-throated renunciation of fame and royalty with all its punishing invasions of privacy, he has only become more famous, if not more regal, trading his proximity to the throne for the No. 1 spot on cushioned chairs opposite Oprah and Anderson Cooper.”

The Washington Times calls it “juicy, humorous, resentful and sad.” Meanwhile, the Guardian’s Charlotte Higgins paints a similar picture to Longman.

Spare is by turns compassion-inducing, frustrating, oddly compelling and absurd,” she wrote. “Harry is myopic as he sits at the center of his truth, simultaneously loathing and locked into the tropes of tabloid storytelling, the style of which his ghostwritten autobiography echoes.”

While you’re here, watch the trailer for Harry & Meghan, which available to stream on Netflix now.

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