Postcard from Zaharah: Spare a thought for Harry

Watching the then 12-year-old Prince Harry, now Duke of Sussex and husband of Meghan Markle, walking behind his mother's funeral procession 25 years ago, my heart went out to him. I often wondered what went through the mind of the child who had just lost his mother in a very tragic way. Few will forget the look on his face and that of his brother's, walking behind the coffin with a wreath that simply said "Mummy".

His mummy was no ordinary woman and his family, too, was no ordinary family. Ordinariness doesn't quite exist in a family like his.

I found some of the answers between the pages of the first few chapters of Spare, the Duke's sensational tell-all book, seen as a searing attack on the royal family, which risks burning any bridge for reconciliation.

On one early morning in Balmoral, the late Queen Elizabeth II's residence in Scotland, seven days before that walk, his father had entered his bedroom to break the tragic news. No hugs, no tears, save for the unusually numerous repeats of "Darling Boy" that his father called him. It was about the only hint of rapport between father and son.

Displays of emotions were not quite the style of his father, now the king of England. He strode out of the room and left the 12 year old to contemplate whether it was a cruel joke or an attempt by his mother to stay away from the royal family and live a quiet life with her "friend" and away from the paparazzi.

The duke didn't even recall any discussion or talk about his mother's passing, and the only proof that his beloved mother was gone forever was provided by his Aunt Sarah — his mother's sister — who had gone to Paris with his Pa to make arrangements for the transportation of the body back to London. She had presented two small blue boxes to him and William. The two small boxes contained locks of hair of the fashion icon, loved by many across the world.

The book gives an insight into the life of the members of the British royal family, which Harry believes made him what he was — a life he wanted to get away from, an escape he later found after his marriage to Markle. The rest is history.

He justifies his breaking away from the traditions so that the other "Spares" do not suffer the same fate he had endured until he married the American actress and went into therapy, which his brother claimed made him delusional.

A great chunk of his book, ghostwritten by American author J.R. Moehringer, according to critics and reviewers, was targeted at his brother, Prince William, to whom he was obviously the "spare".

And, of course, the other target is Catherine, Princess of Wales, whose relationship with his wife seemed to be a non-starter from the beginning, only to turn
pear shaped after the problems about the bridesmaids' dresses before the duke and duchess' wedding.

Spare could easily be seen as a book of sibling relationship, sibling rivalry. From a very young age, Harry said he was aware of what the "Spare" meant and was never allowed to forget that, especially by the press.

"I was the shadow, the support, the Plan B — brought into this world in case something happened to Willy."

Reading through the book, the word catharsis came to mind — the fights, physical and verbal, the unspoken issues, the unsolved problems. All these, many would say were quite normal — a brother hitting another in a family happens all the time, the rivalry between in-laws is common. It happens in every family. But Harry chose to air them in his book, in a documentary of Harry and Meghan, and in interviews everywhere.

In writing about memories, especially tragic ones that happened to someone at a very tender age, there are risks that the incidents tend to be blurred or magnified. On this side of the pond, where his books are already flying off the shelves, many are giving their version of incidents as recalled by Harry.

Harry and Meghan's "truth" doesn't always match everyone else's, screamed one headline, listing down inaccuracies in the book.

The memoir is touted as the most-talked-about and controversial book in publishing history that had smashed sales records and shattered the royal family, but how much of the content is reliable?

There were indeed inaccuracies as to how many times the late Queen Victoria was shot at, or who the founder of Eton College was. Indeed, the big store TK Maxx was moved to make a statement that they do not have sales, after the Duke of Sussex wrote that he bought his clothes at its annual sales.

The late queen's former press secretary is now asking for a public apology for false allegations in the book.

Air New Zealand has joined
in a dig at the couple, referring
to their claims that they had booked a first-class ticket for Meghan's father to fly to the
royal wedding in the United Kingdom.

The airline said it has no first class, and has now come up in a tweet about introducing a "Sussex class".

But all these doesn't seem to deter the duke. The royal spare had said: "There's enough for another book. I cut the memoir in half to spare my family."

Buy it if you have any spare time or money. I have had some of my questions answered and will now move on.

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