January 10, 2023 1:38 PM - Subscribe

The life story of Prince Harry. Previously discussed on the blue over here.

More to come after I've read the bloody tome :)
posted by jenfullmoon (86 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, I've finished reading the prologue and part 1. I'll do a writeup of what's going on, because I feel like after all the hype, one should be done. It appears to be Harry telling a bunch of anecdotes to his ghostwriter, who puts them in order (reminds me of reading the book Shy).
The book starts out with Harry having an arranged meeting with Pa and Willy around the time of Gramps's funeral. They are completely baffled as to why Harry left, which is why he decided to write this book explaining it.

Then the book jumps to the day before Diana's death--it was a nice one--and Charles having to break the news to Harry that "she didn't make it." Harry semi-reasonably assumes his mother went into hiding, even though one of his aunts brought him a lock of her hair. It was a messed-up confusing time. His father takes him to Africa to meet the Spice Girls, which would improve Pa's image. Harry notes that at the time in Fiji, a national holiday in Pa's honor had been rescinded. Pa would come to visit him before going to bed, but was better at writing Harry a letter of praise rather than saying it to his face.

Then Harry went back to school at Ludgrove, where he recounts stories of the drumming teacher, the history teacher razzing him about not being interested in his own family history, and his father's "jokes" about his parentage, which were not so funny. Harry notes that nearly every biography of him as to point out that Hewitt wasn't his dad, and includes "a description of the moment Pa finally sat me down for a proper heart-to-heart, reassuring me that Major Hewitt wasn't my real father. Vivid scene, poignant, moving, and wholly made up. If Pa had any thoughts about Major Hewitt, he kept them to himself."

The boys meet Camilla and it goes all right. Harry feels like getting his approval (after Willy's) was merely formality, they probably talked about horses or something. This is where Harry says he and Willy were asked about marrying her (see this article for the recap) and they politely said they'd rather he not marry her but would otherwise welcome her into the family--they just didn't want the controversy and drama of a wedding. Charles said nothing, but Camilla leaked her private conversations with Willy to the press straightaway.

Harry goes to Eton, a place for brilliant boys, which Harry was... not. Also, Willy said to not know him at school, which makes me roll my eyes and go LITERALLY EVERYONE KNOWS YOU'RE RELATED, DUMBASS. "Willy always hated it when anyone made the mistake of thinking us a package attend the same school, was pure murder."

I note that Harry does not like wearing kilts, "with that worrisome knife in your sock and that breeze up your arse." Nor does he love that the uniform at Eton is to literally and perpetually mourn the death of Henry VI. "Any boy might balk at taking part in a never-ending funeral, but for a boy who'd just lost his mum it was a daily kick in the balls."

Harry gets a bad haircut by his mates, the media calls him a skinhead. He breaks his thumb, then he's on death's door. "My existence was just fun and games to these people. I wasn't a human being to them.. I wasn't a fourteen-year-old-boy hanging on by his fingernails. I was a cartoon character, a glove puppet to be manipulated and mocked for fun....All was justified because I was royal, and in their minds royal was synonymous with non-person." Charles's office lodges a formal complaint, "the newspaper told Pa's office to sod off." He's labeled "the naughty one" every time he makes a mistake.

Books that remind Harry of his life: Hamlet, which he refuses to read after he figures out the plot--too close to home. But Of Mice and Men was short, and reminded him of him and his brother. He and Willy were either ignoring each other or fighting/brawling, either alone or with other kids.

Harry and Willy go to Africa for the first time and love it. He learns to hunt.

The Windsor men hate going to Klosters because of "the Wall," where they are forced to line up and get their pictures taken and answer questions. "The Wall was the price we paid for a hassle-free hour on the slopes.'

Harry on his great-grandmother, "Gan-Gan:" "She was born three years before the aeroplane was invented yet still played the bongo drums on her hundredth birthday."

Harry and Willy have "Club H," their basement hideaway at Highgrove. It's the one place they let their hair down and party. Then he's asked to tell "the truth," which Harry thinks is about how he lost his virginity. Um, nope, not that. It's "are you doing drugs," because a story's going to be written about that. Harry assumes that his father's going to stop the editor, but NOPE, he's "going to play ball with her. They were going full Neville Chamberlain." Because being single dad to a "drug-addicted" son supposedly makes Charles look better--???? Harry notes that this comes from Camilla's spin doctor.

Harry didn't really know "Aunt Margo" and avoided her. "She could kill a houseplant with one scowl." She once gave him a Biro pen with a rubber fish wrapped around it for Christmas. "That is cold-blooded," Harry thought." In 2002, Aunt Margo and Gan-Gan die. The Koh-i-Noor is trotted out for the latter's funeral. "I always thought that Granny experienced all the normal human emotions. She just knew better than the rest of us mortals ho to control them."

Harry notes another reporter tried to blackmail him over cocaine use (says he tried it once and "it wasn't much fun"), which Harry refuses to give into. The journalist has no evidence and gives up on it, but "he slithered into Clarence House, and became very good friends with Camilla and Pa."

Harry notes his grandma tapping along to her 50th jubilee concert...with earplugs on. He wants to hug her, but "I never had done and couldn't imagine any circumstance under such which an act might be sanctioned."

Harry and Pa discuss his future career and settle on the Army. Harry talks it over with his best friend Henners, and then Henners dies in another car crash.

Harry can't graduate from Eton without being in a play, and gets Conrade in Much Ado. Harry has a great time doing it, and also he's finally in a Shakespeare play for Pa! Pa enjoys it...but laughs at the wrong moments. Gramps did the same thing to Charles, apparently. Harry gets accused of cheating and is cleared, but the Palace won't let him defend himself. "Never complain, never explain." Pa's advice: "Darling boy, just don't read it." We're told Charles reads everything BUT the news, but everyone else reads the news.

Harry goes to Australia, staying with friends of Mummy's and working on their farm. It's the dead opposite of what he's used to. He acquires the nickname (even code name with his bodyguards) of "Spike" after he gets a photo taken with an echidna and it reminds everyone of his hair. While in Australia, Harry finds out about the butler's tell-all and is quite mad. The family issues a condemnation and that's about all that happens. After the press finds him there, he goes to Lesotho,. where he has to do a solo interview and talks about his mother for the first time in it...and then they bring up the time he was caught with a "page 3" girl.

Harry meets up with Chelsy when he's visiting Cape Town (he got her number years ago). "She seemed immune to that common affliction sometimes called throne syndrome." She didn't care about propriety or his family. He advises her to treat papping as "a chronic illness," "but she wasn't sure she wanted to have a chronic illness." You get used to it, Harry lies, but also admits that if you want to be around him, you have to deal with it.

Charles and Camilla get engaged, but at this point Harry and Willy are over their previous issues. No hard feelings. Harry feels like he loses Pa at this moment, obviously. "I didn't relish losing a second parent, and I had complex feelings about gaining a step-parent who, I believed, had recently sacrificed me on her personal PR altar." But he wants Pa to be happy, and maybe Camilla will be less dangerous if she's happy?
"Damn, I'd like all of us to be happy."

Harry's entry into the military is delayed when he lands on a bolt during a military exercise he and Willy were doing privately. The Palace claims it's rugby. The lie amuses Harry until the news starts saying he's afraid to go.

The Nazi uniform incident: it's a "Natives and Colonials" party, "a cringey theme" which requires them to "dress accordingly." Harry has nothing appropriate, but Willy and his new girlfriend Kate offer to help. Harry likes Kate right off, calls her "carefree, sweet, kind" and loves clothes. Both W&K say the point of this party is to dress ridiculous, and Willy ends up with some kind of homemade "...feline outfit." Harry loves making Kate laugh and when he worries that she'll take Willy from him, hopes someday he finds someone else to join the group laughter. He wants to make Kate laugh with his costume. He goes to a moldy costume shop, digs up a pilot uniform and a Nazi uniform, and asks W&K to vote. They vote Nazi because it's way more ridiculous. "Which, again, was the point." "They both howled." He notes that at the party, "no one looked twice at my costume. All the natives and colonials were more focused on getting drunk and groping each other." But of course, someone snaps a photo and it makes the media.

What was Harry thinking? "I wasn't." He realizes his brain has been turned off for awhile and feels horrible about it. Willy and Pa are actually sympathetic to the situation (FOR ONCE), Pa sends him to a holy man to make a public atonement. The chief rabbi of Britain is very nice to him and assures him that people do stupid things but it doesn't need to be their intrinsic nature.

The boys get a new private secretary, who they dub JLP. Harry asks him to investigate Diana's "death" and JLP does, providing him what are presumably the least bad photos of the bunch from the police. Harry looks at them and realizes there were paparazzi swarming around. They were photographing her but NOT helping. "The last thing Mummy saw on this earth was a flashbulb." However, she doesn't look awful in those photos, and Harry clings to his "she's not dead" denial.

Harry goes to boot camp, where all the sergeants all have tiny fussy fancy breeds of dogs. (Really?) All things considered, Harry isn't that bothered by boot camp--"they can't break me. Is it because I'm already broken?" and there's no press there. Until, well, there is. But he loves losing his "self" there. He marches a final eight miles after getting trench foot. He looks forward to going into battle after graduation.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:03 PM on January 10, 2023 [17 favorites]

Bless you I absolutely want to know what’s in the book but have no interest in reading it because I am afraid I will go full royal one way or another when I am anti-monarchy. I have a royal-mad sibling who hates Harry, so thank you for the straightforward recapping
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:36 AM on January 11, 2023 [9 favorites]

She once gave him a Biro pen with a rubber fish wrapped around it for Christmas. "That is cold-blooded," Harry thought.

Is there some symbolism here I'm missing that would explain why this is "coldblooded", or was it just because it was a really crappy gift and William got a Ski-Doo or something?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on January 11, 2023

If you feel like posting about the obvious lie about being pre-married before the actual wedding ceremony, feel free. That's the only thing I'm mildly curious about, i.e., why would anybody think to a) say that in the first place b) think that it sounded plausible (I mean, the Queen was the head of the CoE, there is no way any of her underlings, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, would engage in a stunt like that and provoke her wrath and turn the church into a laughingstock for no real reason).

IME opinion that lie did more to totally blow up M&H's credibility than anything else.

(And yes, I can believe he met with the couple, walked them through things, even performed a blessing, but a wedding, nope, no way.)
posted by sardonyx at 9:12 AM on January 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

Thanks! I've got most of part 2 written up, but haven't finished reading it and I had to go to bed, so that will be later. Thursday/Friday I will probably be busy, so the REAL juicy stuff may have to wait a few days.

Is there some symbolism here I'm missing that would explain why this is "coldblooded", or was it just because it was a really crappy gift and William got a Ski-Doo or something?

The crappy gift, I presume. Whatever WIlliam got wasn't mentioned.

If you feel like posting about the obvious lie about being pre-married before the actual wedding ceremony, feel free.

If there's anything about that, I'll let you know. I concur that the Archbishop "marrying" them sounds unlikely.

Some people are quibbling about when he remembers his great-grandmother dying and what posthumous gaming gift he got from his mother. Then again, he does indicate at the start of the book his memory isn't always the best. I dunno there.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:33 AM on January 11, 2023 [3 favorites]

Harry and Willy go to Africa for the first time and love it. He learns to hunt.

I will gladly single this out and exit the room. It's all I need, to form an opinion about these people.
posted by elkevelvet at 10:13 AM on January 11, 2023 [3 favorites]

If you feel like posting about the obvious lie about being pre-married before the actual wedding ceremony, feel free.

“The archbishop reached the official part, spoke the few words that made us Duke and Duchess of Sussex, titles bestowed by Granny, and he joined us until death parted us, though he’d already done similar days earlier, in our garden, a small ceremony, just the two of us, Guy and Pula the only witnesses. Unofficial, non-binding, except in our souls. We were grateful for every person in and around St. George’s, and watching on TV, but out love began in private, and being public had been mostly pain, so we wanted the first consecration of our love, the first vows, to be private as well. Magical as the formal ceremony was, we’d both come to feel slightly frightened… of crowds.”

Ellipsis in the original. Guy and Pula are the dogs.
posted by Ruki at 11:05 AM on January 11, 2023 [4 favorites]

If you feel like posting about the obvious lie about being pre-married before the actual wedding ceremony, feel free.

This strikes me as an odd thing to care about. I haven’t been on Twitter lately but I remember someone was very mad that they had an enormous wedding when they were already married.

Thanks for summarizing, looking forward to more!
posted by kat518 at 11:16 AM on January 11, 2023 [2 favorites]

Unofficial, non-binding, except in our souls.

I sounds like Selby did some form of blessing, which has a real historical tradition in the Anglican Church (for a long time you did not even need to have a particular ceremony to be married even in the eyes of the church! Just a promise before witnesses and consummation), but he says right in the quote that it was unofficial, so I'm not sure what the weird hate is about there?
posted by praemunire at 11:17 AM on January 11, 2023 [19 favorites]

I found it more to be an indictment of the British press than of the British Royal Family. Harry is clear that he loves his family, dysfunctional though they may be. He is deeply hurt by feeling that his family chose their reputations and relationships with the press over his well-being - from the way they leak stories throwing other Royals under the bus to improve their own reputation to the way they stayed silent when Meghan was facing a brutal and racist vilification.

The leaks from the book make so much sense when taken in the proper context. The anecdote about his frostbitten penis was to demonstrate how he had to discretely find a doctor without the press or the Firm knowing. The 25 deaths/video game thing was about how the Army purposely trains you to depersonalize your targets.

I just… really want to give him a hug.
posted by Ruki at 11:29 AM on January 11, 2023 [16 favorites]

The biro anecdote is odd, because it's widely reported that the adults only give each other gag gifts at Christmas (it's something Charles didn't brief Diana about). Harry reportedly once bought the Queen a shower cap with "ain't life a bitch" on it.

It would make it much easier to hide a cruel gift in among the gags, though. Someone online suggested it might be one of these.
posted by plonkee at 11:45 AM on January 11, 2023 [3 favorites]

he says right in the quote that it was unofficial, so I'm not sure what the weird hate is about there?

Three reasons:
  1. People are sfunny about the 'real' wedding for any couple. This question on the green is a good example.
  2. In England and Wales, you can't currently have a backyard wedding as your legal wedding. Getting married outdoors at all is surprisingly tricky. So it's obviously not the 'real' wedding (see point 1)
  3. It came across as a bit of a gotcha against the British public when it was first mentioned in the Oprah interview
What's described in the book was always the most likely explanation. As a two-ceremony bride, I find it difficult to get worked up about personally but people are indeed weird.
posted by plonkee at 11:56 AM on January 11, 2023 [8 favorites]

I have finished Part 2. Disclaimer, this is mostly war/battle/military stuff, a topic that completely loses me because I can't follow battles for shit. Read the book if you want good details. Or skip it if you don't.
Half of Britons are mad that Harry's been sent off to war, as even a spare hasn't gone for about 25 years. The other half say bravo, let him do it, and if he dies, he dies. The insurgent leaders have some super charming threats for him (and his ears). Meanwhile, Chels has completely unplugged from the press, so she's not hearing these things. Harry's deployment is called off after the sheer level of threats against him and that anyone near him will also be too much in danger. "Bullet magnet" and "the mother of all targets" are used. The reason he's being pulled is the press.

"Most of the time Wily and I didn't have any truck with all that Heir-Spare nonsense. But now and then I'd be brought up short and realize that on some level it really did matter to him. Professionally, personally, he cared where I was stood, what I was doing." He gets drunk a lot, he gets papped a lot, he ends up hiding in trunks to avoid them.

Harry and Willy put on a concert in their mother's honor to raise funds for charity, including Sentebale. They're too choked up to say much, but Harry gives a shoutout to his men. After another visit to Africa, Harry's still depressed, and asks for help to get into action. Iraq is too dangerous, but Afghanistan might work. He'll need to train for the job the guy has in mind (forward air controller), though. Harry ends up doing training around Sandringham, but Pa never visits because he's still "in his newlywed phase" 2 years later. Finally one day Pa sees an aircraft flying over, figures it's Harry, and comes to visit. Pa is proud.

While in Paris for the Rugby World Cup, Harry asks his driver to drive him through the tunnel his mother died in, at that speed. Harry is baffled that it's...not that awful, or even unusual. This is when it finally sinks in that his mother is dead, and gets pissed drunk. He later calls Willy and tells him what he's done, Willy said he did it too. They agree to do it again, together, and then finally talk about the implausibility of the whole thing. They wanted to ask for the inquiry to be re-opened, but "We were talked out of it by the powers that be."

A month later, Harry literally stows away to go to war. Despite what the media says, he and Chels haven't broken up. He ends up at Dwyer base, a place where everyone is covered in sand all the time. Don't focus on staying clean, focus on staying warm. He spends a lot of time watching nothing happen. But you can't get anything wrong, "every word and digit I spoke would have consequences." He notes that he had to go to Afghanistan to feel "normal" for the first time.

Harry asks to be transferred to Garmsir Base, which has a company of Nepalese people called Gurkhas. They are beloved fighters who also worship royalty, even when he asks them not to. They escort him everywhere, even to the bathroom. He's on call day and night there.

He moves to Edinburgh base, and at one point is delegated to bring journalists into the battlefield. This is supposedly done with the understanding that the news embargo is still in effect, but this sounds like a baaaaaaaaaaaad idea to me. They end up seeing an injured boy being used by the Taliban as bait to get the soldiers who swoop in to help him. Naturally after that, he hears people talking about "Red Fox" on the radio, and of course that's him, being outed and they're plotting his murder. Harry is pulled out.

Harry goes to visit Chels. He muses that while Chels likes/loves him, she doesn't like the royal baggage and that won't go away, so what hope is there? Nor does he want her spirit broken by Granny and the press or the British public. "It takes a certain kind of person to withstand the scrutiny, Teej, and I don't know if Chels can handle it. I don't know that I want to ask her to handle it." Harry says, "If I had a choice, I wouldn't want this life either."

"The press--they ruin everything, don't they? They do, they surely do."

Harry meets with a general about trying to get back into battle. Helicopter pilot would work, but that requires...two years of more schooling. While he ponders if he's up for that, he tries to find ways to help soldiers. This is incredibly touching. He also goes to Botswana again and helps his documentary filmmaker friends (Mike and Teej) film another project. And speaking of film...a film Harry did joking around with his military mates (the one where he said "P*ki," he says he didn't know that was a slur) makes the media. Nobody ever seemed uncomfortable about it, he knew nothing about unconscious bias, he thought the word was harmless, like "Aussies." Harry's father's office offers an apology, Harry himself isn't allowed to do so. He contacts his friend who he called that, and the friend says no big deal, I know you're not racist. Harry still feels bad.

Harry starts piloting school, as does Willy, and they live together for the first time since Eton. They are overjoyed when some of the shittiest reporters finally get their comeuppance as Murdoch's reporters are getting arrested and charged with harassment. They do a joint interview, during which Willy claims Harry's a slob and snores. Harry's all are you joking, because I'm not and I don't, and says 'Lies! Lies!" in response. Everyone has a good laugh, but afterwards Harry wonders if Willy was feeling bad that he could only train for search and rescue.

Harry graduates from pilot school, gets back together with and breaks up again with Chels, goes to Lesotho again with Willy doing charity stuff, and then they return to hear that Willy's engaged. Willy never mentioned this the entire time they were in Lesotho. Harry retorts that the media published all these nice stories about "gifting" his mother's ring to Willy. All lies, Willy had the ring all along, having asked Harry for it after their mother's death. Harry wonders what he'll do with his life if he never gets married. Military and then charity stuff, he figures. "That's enough for a full life." Harry gets invited to hike to the North Pole with amputees, a trip he doesn't think he can pass up--even if it's rather close to the wedding. But before that, he goes to Germany to learn about the Holocaust.

Harry enjoys all the male bonding, but sadly has to leave for the wedding before hitting the Pole. The pilot, however, makes sure he flies there so he can see it (and hold a flag). And THIS is where the frostbitten todger bit comes from. "My penis was a matter of public record....The press had written about it extensively."

Harry was not really the best man at Willy's wedding. This is because Willy didn't trust him to give a best man speech without saying something wildly inappropriate. "He wasn't wrong." The actual best men, had they been outed, would have been chased by tabloids and have their families' lives ruined. Harry understands and makes jokes about what he might have said. Willy gets pre-wedding jitters and gets drunk and wants to shake the hands of the people. Harry agrees to go along. The next morning, Willy hasn't slept a wink, reeks (wanna mint?) looks like crap, and is "glum" that Granny wouldn't let him pick the uniform he wanted to get married in. Harry's not thrilled about the uniform picked for him either.

"I loved my new sister-in-law, I felt she was more sister than in-law, the sister I'd never had and always wanted." Harry calls them a good match and "they made each other visibly happy." But that said, he knows he loses his brother on some level now. "Weddings were joyous occasions, sure, but they were also low-key funerals, because after saying their vows people tended to disappear." I totally agree, Harry.

Sorry, but I gotta laugh at this: "What was the universe out to prove by taking my penis at the same moment it took my brother?" I'm sure I would have thought of the same were I him, but ...I gotta laugh.

On a related note, while Harry reports he didn't consult with Chels about his speech, he did actually gift an ermine thong, in front of everyone. (Supposedly an American sent it.)

More about Harry's todger: it's not improving. Someone suggests he try Elizabeth Arden cream, which reminds him of his mom, which..."Weird" doesn't really do the feeling justice." He needs to see a doctor, but he can't ask the Palace to find him one or it'll make the media. Finally, a friend of his sneaks him to one. I won't recount his symptoms, but the doctor is all, time heals. "Really, Doc? That hasn't been my experience." (And finally, I get that Harry is outing his own shit before the tabloids do it.)

Harry mentions briefly dating other women, then the tabloids find out, then that's the end of that real quick.

Harry goes to more military training, in which he's kidnapped and has flashes to Lord Mountbatten's murder by the IRA. He's stripped and his penis is insulted about how small. "I wanted to say: You don't know the half of what's wrong with this appendage." During the torture, some woman comes up to him and starts yelling about how his mother was pregnant with a Muslim baby. After it ends, "one of the instructors offered a half-arsed apology about the stuff to do with my mother. Hard for us to find something about you that you'd be shocked we knew. I didn't answer." They admit that took it a bit too far. "Later I learned that two other soldiers in the exercise had gone mad."

Harry's granny pulls him out of training to go do a two week tour in the Caribbean for her 60th year on the throne, which sounds like it's a very good time. Harry FULLY plants a tree when asked to plant a tree, which shocks people. He gets rave reviews from the media and even Granny (well done!).

Harry and Willy are stalked by two paparazzi and can't figure out how they're doing it. They seem to be wanting to pick a fight. Harry concludes that their game is that they are trying to become famous by ruining the life of someone famous. He doesn't get why anyone would want fame. He notes that "Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber" actually live a more luxe lifestyle than Harry is.

Harry meets Cressida. Cressida won't wait for him to get back from war, but if he comes back, it's a go.

Harry parties in Vegas because carpe diem! He's been in a few palaces in his time, but he finds The Strip palatial. He gets drunk and wants a foot tattoo of Botswana, which both his friends and beloved bodyguard Billy talk him out of. Harry plays strip pool instead and someone takes photos. "Specifically, what was everywhere was my arse. I was naked before the eyes of the world...seizing my diem." Harry feels like a total idiot again for trusting strangers and dreads being thrown over by Cressida and the military (I note that the military didn't do a darned thing about Harry's previous exploits because he hadn't started yet) and possibly getting his bodyguards fired. The military gives no fucks, as it turns out. Cressida understands after his explanation. And the bodyguards aren't fired, presumably because it doesn't get out that they were there. He has to meet the family at Balmoral, where Pa is surprisingly sympathetic and said he got photographed naked at the age of 8. Amusingly, various soldiers pose with their privates hidden for cameras in support of him.

Harry goes off to war again...the press outs him, AGAIN...the Taliban attack the base on his birthday going after him. Nineteen people died over him. He's not pulled from this one, though. Harry kills people in a more direct way, but thinks of it as saving British soldiers. All of his kills were recorded so he knows the exact number (25). He is neither satisfied nor ashamed of it. He'd prefer not to have that on his record, but also he'd prefer to have no Taliban. In the moment, you think of them as other because you've been trained to.

Harry leaves Afghanistan again, has to give an exit interview, during which he says the British press is crap. The problem is that people believe what they read in the paper. "Even if a falsehood was disproved, debunked beyond all doubt, that residue of initial belief remained. Especially if the falsehood was negative. Of all human biases, 'negativity bias" is the most indelible. It's baked into our brains. Privilege the negative, prioritize the negative--that's how our ancestors survived."

Harry has a mandatory decompression in Cyprus, in which they are all issued two beers (Harry doesn't like beer and passes his on), followed by a comedy show, but most aren't in the mood to laugh. Harry reunites with Cress, but he's so different it feels like they have to start all over again.

Harry is totally bored being back home and in the military. They won't send him back. "Everyone has had quite enough of Harry in a war zone."

The Palace sends him on an American tour instead. While on that tour, he's inspired by the Warrior Games in Colorado. They say sport is healing, and Harry gets the idea for the Invictus Games (i.e. the only charity I've ever found interesting). Harry thinks this should be a slam dunk to get approved by the Palace, Willy, etc. but Willy is cranky about it. Sibling rivalry, Harry realizes, but why is Willy doing this when he's clearly won?

Harry starts having panic attacks while doing media events. At one point he's on the phone with Henners's brother Thomas while the poor guy GETS MUGGED, Harry and bodyguards race to his rescue.

Harry is currently living in an underground apartment at Kensington Palace's lower ground floor, where the upstairs neighbor parks his car across the wee bit of window Harry has. Harry asks the guy (one of Granny's equerries) to politely move his car, he tells Harry to suck eggs, and then writes Granny to tell him to tell him same. "She never did speak to me about it, but the fact that Mr. R felt secure enough, supported enough, to denounce me to the monarch showed my true place in the pecking order." Harry also feels some irritation towards Mrs. R for throwing out hair trimmings (inadvertently) down his window and parking in Mummy's spot.

Harry goes to Angola, like his mother did, and is bummed out that her global crusade is stalled.

Harry is still feeling depressed. His father sends him to a doctor, who (OF COURSE) wants to prescribe pills. Harry wants to try anything but that, including magnesium, which he does not recommend because it gave him um, loosened bowels at a friend's wedding. (It isn't elaborated on further.) Meanwhile the press is badmouthing him for being single and claiming he'd had a flirtation with Cameron Diaz (he's never met her, "further proof that if you like reading pure bollocks then royal biographies are just your thing.") "As a confirmed bachelor I was an outsider, a nonperson within my own family. If I wanted that to change, I had to get hitched. That simple." So say us all late bloomers, Harry.

Harry decides to spend his Saturn Return (i.e. age 29) angst on going to the South Pole--with a "bespoke cock cushion" this time. Harry breaks his toe before the trip, but goes along anyway. Upon making it there, they are gifted with a vial of the "cleanest air in the world."

Off to Sandringham for Christmas again. "Hotel Granny" is full and Harry is punted to a mini-room in a narrow back corridor among the offices of Palace staff. Harry feels "relegated to the hinterlands," because well, he is. Harry's hoping that clearing his head at the Pole will help him this holiday season, but nope, it does not, because "my family at the moment was infected with some very scary malware." Which is to say, everyone's checking the Court Circular and checking who's done the most official engagements for the year. Harry likens this to a "circular firing squad" and that it amplifies/weaponizes the "this one's a lazy shit" commentary. Nobody talks about it, but people are doing last minute engagements real damn fast to look better "and they'd succeeded largely by including things that weren't, strictly speaking, engagements, recording public interactions that were mere blips, the kinds of things Willy and I wouldn't dream of including." (I note that Celebitchy complains about this sort of thing with William and Kate allllllll the time.) Harry thinks it's a joke because you get no points for nine private meetings with veterans vs. cutting a ribbon at a horse farm. (Well, you could report the private meetings, it sounds like.) But the real infuriating thing about it is that the amount of work they do is based off what Granny or Pa decides to allot them financially to do it. Pa is deciding how much Willy and Harry are doing, period. Harry thinks that feels rigged. The family lives in fear of the public throwing them out. Harry's quite happy to hide in his back corner room, huffing his clean air tube. (Seriously.)

Harry moves into Nott Cott after Will and Kate move out, and he's planning on popping in to say hi to them all the time because they're half a football pitch away now. But they never invite him over. Maybe they don't want a third wheel? Maybe if he was married? "They'd both mentioned, pointedly, repeatedly, how much they liked Cressida."

Cressida and Harry get outed as a couple. They are more in the open. She asks about his mum one night, and that's when he starts crying. He feels grateful to her, but soon after that they realize they are not a match--and yeah, she doesn't want to deal with being a royal either. Harry goes to America for a wedding and they visit Graceland ("The King's interior designer must have been on acid."). Harry wonders when it'll ever be his turn. Harry is furious that his press nemesis at Murdoch is acquitted at trial. He's pissed off, and he basically hibernates in Nott Cott. Sometimes he forces himself to go out and try to meet someone, then there's the paps again, cycle starts all over again.

Harry, Willy and Kate visit the Tower of London for an art installation. They run into Harry's general who sent him to war and get a private tour of The Crown from the coronation. Harry is totally amazed...and sad that it stays locked up in the tower. Willy and Kate have no comment.

Invictus Games are on! People come up to tell him their stories and how happy this has made them. Seriously, Invictus is the best royal charity ever. Lots of "awwws."

Harry decides to leave the Army and be a full time royal--whatever THAT means. Upon encountering s soldier he knows running his own damn marathon, Harry realizes that "even when you stop being a soldier, you don't have to stop being a soldier." Harry does not elaborate as to why he left, other than it was time to. (I note I've read elsewhere that his career was pretty much halted due to him being royalty.)

Harry does royal engagements. He notes that the papers are calling his brother "Work-shy Wills" for not doing as many engagements. Harry defends his brother by noting they're still reproducing and also Pa controls the purse strings. Also, "Pa and Camilla didn't want Willy and Kate getting loads of publicity. P and Camilla didn't like Willy and Kate drawing attention away from them or their causes. They'd openly scolded Willy about it many times." Pa's press officer berated Willy's team when Kate was scheduled to visit a tennis club on the same day Charles is doing something else, and they say she can't hold a tennis racquet in any photos. "Such a winning, fetching photo would undoubtedly wipe Pa and Camilla off the front pages. And that, in the end, couldn't be tolerated." Harry feels like he has to carry the banner for all three of them, and he doesn't want to be called work-shy either. Harry notes that the press also has it out for Willy for (a) denying them access to his family and (b) giving a vaguely anti-Brexit speech.

Harry gets interviewed after Charlotte's birth about how he feels to not be the spare of the spare any more. Harry: "First of all, it's a good thing to be farther from the center of a volcano," and what kind of monster would think about his place in the line rather than welcoming a new life? The press is now comparing him to Bridget Jones. Harry's "glamorous bachelor life" involves him folding underwear and watching Friends. He does his own laundry, chores, cooking and food shopping.--albeit he disguises himself and goes at random times and runs through the store. He gets to listen to people bitch about him in the tabloids while waiting in line. At one point he tells some people yelling at a cashier to stop doing it. The couple recognizes him, "weren't in the least surprised," but are offended to be called out. Harry notes that he shopped for clothes in the same way--quick in and out, not really caring what he got too much.

In 2015 Harry becomes an agoraphobe, doesn't leave home much, and is having panic attacks while giving speeches. Willy makes fun of him for being drenched in sweat, Harry is all, you know something's bad and you've told me you needed help, but now you're teasing me and being insensitive? Harry tries to look into some therapists, do meditation, tries therapeutic psychedelics that help him redefine reality. That helps.

Harry wants to work on stuff regarding Africa, but apparently Willy has called dibs on this, and can because he's the Heir. "It was ever in his power to veto my thing, and he had every intention of exercising, even flexing, that veto power. We'd had some real rows about it." One time they had a fight in front of some friends, and a friend was all 'why can't you both work on Africa?" Willy throws a fit and says that "rhinos, elephants, that's mine!" Harry says he just wants to win all the time. (Willy is also mad he wasn't invited to any Poles.) After telling other friends about this (the Botswana filmmaker couple), they say "there's room for both of you in Africa." Harry goes to investigate rhino poaching anyway. It's hideous and I will not recap details of that.

Harry takes a trip to America and is introduced to good tequila and um, mushrooms. He also gets to meet Courteney Cox, and "Batman from the LEGO movie," but Harry's too drunk to really process that one. Also apparently Courteney has one REALLY WEIRD BATHROOM, or possibly Harry and his friend are too pissed and tripping and hallucinating dragons in there? While still tripping, he feels like the moon is speaking to him, telling him that the upcoming year is going to be really good and something big is going to happen.
I probably won't get to the rest of it as quickly because I have more nighttime activities for the next few days, but we'll see.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:39 PM on January 11, 2023 [12 favorites]

I don't *really* care. Believe me, as a Canadian, I would have no objection to seeing the monarchy removed from our governmental structure, except that I know that it would be nearly impossible to achieve that based on our amending formula. Plus, even if it were possible, the current crop of provincial premiers are not the people who would be capable of negotiating that or coming up with a decent alternative, so we're stuck with Chuck and his brood.

I just think that insisting they got married in the Oprah interview was a stupid, ridiculous claim that really undercut the credibility the couple was trying to achieve. They had enough other stories to share, why bother fabricating something that is so sensational and contradictory and patently false? If Oprah were really their friend (instead of somebody involved in a transactional relationship with them), she could have halted the interview and asked them to clarify or reframe what they were saying, but she wanting a ratings hit and as many bombs to drop as possible, and so did Meghan and Harry. It was one of the worst instances of PR strategy I've seen in action in a long time. Why give their opponents a weapon to wield against them ("they lied about the wedding; they likely lied about everything else") when they knew that there would be doubt and pushback from certain parts of society (mainly in the UK and in the loyalist parts of the Commonwealth)? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

By insisting they were already married, they cast the whole wedding spectacle--including the sacramental part, not just the pomp and circumstance--as a sham, and as pretty much taxpayer fraud. Again, this is not the way to win hearts and minds, especially when you were involved in a wedding ceremony that was (in very large part) designed to be a huge PR event and you're currently involved in yet another PR huge event (the interview). You never want to draw attention to the man behind the curtain, especially if you are repeating a similar trick. It's bad optics and a bad move.
posted by sardonyx at 12:39 PM on January 11, 2023

This full length Colbert interview is great, Harry is charming start to finish.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2023 [3 favorites]

By insisting they were already married, they cast the whole wedding spectacle--including the sacramental part, not just the pomp and circumstance--as a sham, and as pretty much taxpayer fraud.

What? This is ridiculous. It is common for people in the appropriate circumstances to get married in a civil ceremony (i.e., a formal, official wedding!) and then celebrate a church wedding later, usually relatively soon thereafter.

So they think they were married in their hearts before the formal ceremony? So what? Again, just a super super weird thing to be invested in, and insisting it's "taxpayer fraud" indicates investment. If anything, it's rather sweet, in a goopy newlywed way that is not for me personally but also doesn't hurt anyone.
posted by praemunire at 12:54 PM on January 11, 2023 [22 favorites]

I'm well aware that civil ceremonies can be separate from religious ones. That's not what happened here and not what they claimed. They claimed two religious ceremonies--two weddings, not a blessing or a vow renewal and a wedding. It was an obvious and stupid (I really have no other word for it) lie.

A normal couple who goes to the courthouse for the civil part and the local church (or backyard or wherever) for the religious part doesn't spend $45 million and bill a big chunk of that to public taxpayers. While it could be argued that they brought in more tourist-related dollars than were spent, imagine the huge uproar if it came out that they were already married, and this was all just "for show."

Again, as a Canadian, we're used to hearing the debates about how much it all costs whenever a Royal pops over. There is always a money element tied to a royal presence. People want to feel like they are getting what they paid for, and they paid for a wedding, they watched a wedding. They don't want to feel duped or cheated. Again, that's not the way to win people to your side, which is exactly what Meghan and Harry were trying to do. It was essentially an own-goal.
posted by sardonyx at 1:07 PM on January 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

Normal couples don’t have the date and location of their wedding decided for them, nor have it televised. They wanted to elope but weren’t allowed to. Their actual wedding day was not theirs because, yes, people did want what they paid for. What they wanted was not what the actual couple involved wanted. If I were in that position, I’d absolutely think of the non-binding ceremony as my real wedding, too.
posted by Ruki at 1:14 PM on January 11, 2023 [13 favorites]

That reasoning doesn't make any sense.

And her wedding brought in enough to pay for the 32 million pricetag.
posted by asteria at 1:14 PM on January 11, 2023 [3 favorites]

Harry does not elaborate as to why he left, other than it was time to. (I note I've read elsewhere that his career was pretty much halted due to him being royalty.)

He was in one of the cavalry regiments, and about 75% of young officers in his regiment leave at the stage he did or earlier. It's about the point at which the opportunities to do 'soldiering' really reduce and you have to do more desk job stints and leadership training. He also may not have been a realistic candidate for a first or second in command posting due to the security risks. From his description, it sounds like he went into the army to do soldiering.
posted by plonkee at 1:31 PM on January 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm not arguing against any of that (although I'm sure I've read lots of Asks about people getting married and having choices imposed on them by their parents and other relatives).

I'm saying that I'm interested in this from a PR exercise point of view. If I were the PR person, I would have intervened to keep my clients from misspeaking/lying/looking like idiots. They already knew there were public strikes against them. There is no point to create more. It was a totally avoidable mess and one that both of them, given how much of their lives they've lived in the spotlight, should have been smart enough to have avoided. That part of their story is one I still hear being brought up time and time again to dismiss everything the couple said (well, usually I hear it used against Meghan as evidence that she is a liar and if she lied about that, she probably lied about everything else from Kate being mean to her to her suicidal thoughts).

It was simply bad PR.
posted by sardonyx at 1:33 PM on January 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

I didn’t watch the Oprah interview and thought getting pre-married was a way for them to take back their wedding day. It sounds like they wanted to celebrate their relationship in a way that felt true to them. I get that. Good for them.

As for it being bad PR, it seems like they want to share their story, good, bad and ugly. I generally prefer when people are honest, even if it makes them look bad. Gives them more credibility.
posted by kat518 at 1:53 PM on January 11, 2023 [7 favorites]

Good, bad and ugly. Sure (as long as the bad and the ugly are framed sympathetically). That's the basis of good PR (for this type of thing).

Lying about something factual? That's the quickest way to sink credibility and tip the entire PR exercise towards the failure point (or over the failure point) depending on the severity and the number of lies.
posted by sardonyx at 1:58 PM on January 11, 2023

Was I married the day of my wedding ceremony or the day I signed a piece of paper? What difference does the answer to that question make to anyone else in the world besides me and my husband? I can’t imagine having so little going on in my life that I’m bothered by this.
posted by kat518 at 2:07 PM on January 11, 2023 [9 favorites]

I've never heard anyone getting mad about Meghan and Harry having a private ceremony before the televised one! Admittedly, I'm American and everyone I talked to was making Oprah memes or speculating about which royal asked about the baby's skin color. It never occurred to me that a couple choosing to have a private ceremony before their obligatory public one as "lying" or "defrauding" the taxpayers. It just seemed kind of sweet and romantic. Calling it "sensational and contradictory and patently false" is so funny to me, I did not even remember they had a pre-wedding until I started reading this thread.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:35 PM on January 11, 2023 [11 favorites]

I don't remember all that much about this one, but it was something like they claimed it was legal(?)/done by the Archbishop in some yard before the actual ceremony? I reasonably assumed it was some pre-wedding/"handfasting" sort of thing because the legal ceremony better be on the actual wedding date and they wanted a private ceremony without all the drama first, but it sounds like the quibble is that it was legal?
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:32 PM on January 11, 2023

In the Oprah interview Meghan described the backyard ceremony as the 'real' one and so implied that it was a legal ceremony. That would not have been possible in England and Wales, and that's fairly common knowledge over here (lots of people get married). The Archbishop of Canterbury was forced to clarify, so it's a bit unseemly.

Harry's version of events does indeed match the most straightforward and reasonable explanation available at the time of the Oprah interview. And if Meghan had described it more carefully in the Oprah interview we might not be typing about it now.
posted by plonkee at 3:47 PM on January 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

In the Oprah interview Meghan described the backyard ceremony as the 'real' one and so implied that it was a legal ceremony.

So it was “real” to her and Harry but not the wedding police. Works for me!
posted by kat518 at 4:00 PM on January 11, 2023 [17 favorites]

This is exactly what Harry is talking about - the British press takes something they say/do, pull it out of context, amplify it, and then everyone remembers the "sCanDaL" not the truth. Meghan never said anything about the legality of the ceremony, just that they said their vows in front of the Archbishop three days before. They also clarified the next day that they exchanged "personal vows" and it wasn't their official/legal wedding.

It is absolutely OK for this couple to feel and to express that the private vows they said to each other was their "real" wedding rather than the huge televised public spectacle apparently neither of them wanted in the first place. That someone would think they were lying or defrauding the public somehow by doing this feels like crazy talk to me.
posted by Preserver at 4:03 PM on January 11, 2023 [29 favorites]

My wife and I got married 3 times so I really don't see the big deal about whether what happened in the garden was a rehearsal, wedding, or something else.

The first was the actual legal one, we just had to fill out a form, have it witnessed and I dropped it off at the city office on the way to work. The easiness of the whole process made me think it was probably a common scam for people to "marry" single elderly people and then get their stuff after they croak. The second was a ceremony for our friends and family in Japan where we were living at the time and that's where we did the whole ring exchange. The third was the religious one almost a year later back in Canada.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:12 PM on January 11, 2023 [2 favorites]

Re: ... Harry asks to be transferred to Garmsir Base, which has a company of Nepalese people called Gurkhas. They are beloved fighters

In the published excerpt at Yahoo, Harry's horrified and helpless as he listens to a Gurkha regimen get slaughtered: [T]he night we were called in to help some Gurkhas. They were pinned down by a nest of Taliban fighters, and when we arrived there was a breakdown in communications, so we simply weren't able to help. It haunts me still: hearing my Gurkha brothers calling out on the radio, remembering every Gurkha I'd known and loved, being prevented from doing anything.

Post-Afghanistan, Harry blames himself for the deaths of many fellow soldiers. He has panic attacks, the sweats, agoraphobia, and tries to self-medicate on the DL. The relentless royal b.s. is its own twisted thing, but I wonder if he's been counseled for wartime PTSD.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:18 PM on January 11, 2023 [15 favorites]

And if Meghan had described it more carefully in the Oprah interview we might not be typing about it now.

Or maybe if people investigated why they are so keen to assume bad faith and demand Meghan and Harry to act as if they're on stand in a trial when discussing their lives, we wouldn't be typing about it now.

Because there is no reason to dissect their words and assume the worst. None. It's genuinely very strange behavior that would be more appropriately applied to people testifying before the January 6th Committee and not an actress and her royal husband talking about getting married.
posted by asteria at 4:29 PM on January 11, 2023 [14 favorites]

Why begrudge them a private exchange of vows three days ahead of the chapel event? The couple who considered a small, barefoot ceremony in Botswana were made to ride in an open-air carriage two days after a man sending them death threats was apprehended. It's not like they ever worried about making the May 19th date, or the public spectacle of their official wedding day being cut short, or anything bizarre like that.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:54 PM on January 11, 2023 [5 favorites]

Oh my god. I'm not begruding them anything. I'm just saying that they were engaged in a PR exercise (telling their story) and they didn't make their story clearer--they made it muddier and fuzzier. That's not how you win at the PR game. (And if you say they weren't playing the PR game, I've got a bridge to sell you.) I don't care it they were talking about a pre-wedding wedding or buying a unicorn. You don't give the public something disputable (i.e. factually questionable and easily proven to be false) to latch onto when you're trying to set the record straight. It doesn't (for the most part) work. It just makes the situation worse.
posted by sardonyx at 7:15 PM on January 11, 2023 [4 favorites]

Is there something about sardonyx’s and my explanations that is genuinely unclear? Or is it just that other mefites commenting think that people holding negative views about the backyard wedding should change their minds? Because if it’s the former I can try to explain again, but if it’s the latter then yeah, sure, but they’re probably not reading this.
posted by plonkee at 12:00 AM on January 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

Clumsy PR? Sure. "Lie?" Not so much.

I always felt bad about those leaked nudes. What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas. I know it's just a tourist-industry slogan, but I've always taken it seriously, and it's a part of what makes the city feel friendly and relaxing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:38 AM on January 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas.

That runs into the fact that Harry is "A Royal", and there's a whole industry that's built up around convincing the rest of the world that what "A Royal" does is our business to comment on, talk about, argue over, and pass judgement on.

I mean, count how many comments you can find just in this thread about the nuances of their wedding date. If they want to consider their "real wedding" to be the rehearsal dinner, then how does it affect any of us in this thread? (And for those of you who say that "but then why did they go ahead with the ceremony and make us pay for it" - are you sure nobody would have been screaming about "but why didn't they have a ceremony we could see"? Or that the plan was already rolling anyway?)

And that sense of ownership is Harry's whole motive for writing the book in the first place - we've been hearing a lot of this stuff already from tabloids over the past 25 years or so, because there's an entire institution set up to convince us that we have the right to that information, but that institution didn't do anything to give his side of the story. So this is his chance to give us the rest of the story at last.

And I hope that in a few months, he finally is able to say "now, none of that was any of your business anyway, so everyone leave me the fuck alone" and he finally takes some privacy back.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:01 AM on January 12, 2023 [8 favorites]

I've always thought this 2020'ish article was interesting for specific headlines on how the British press treated Meghan for virtually the same decisions that the Queen and/or Kate made 15 Headlines Show How Differently The British Press Treat Meghan Markle Vs Kate Middleton
posted by beaning at 8:49 AM on January 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

And now for a lighthearted comment: Someone tipped me off to this Tweet from a writing-themed Twitter account...
The BBC have branded Prince Harry's new memoir Spare "the weirdest book ever written by a royal".

Which is a great excuse to tell you that in 1597 Kimg James VI &I published the Daemonologie, a book on necromancy and black magic and how to find, test, and punish witches.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:43 AM on January 12, 2023 [16 favorites]

The BBC have branded Prince Harry's new memoir Spare "the weirdest book ever written by a royal".

At least until Prince Andrew releases his own memoir "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (and it's all small stuff)".
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:34 PM on January 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

Speaking of Prince Andrew, I'm so aged I remember Sarah Ferguson (the "ugly" -- redheaded -- "stepsister" to glamorous Diana; they knew one another as children, and after Diana married Charles she set Sarah up with her husband-to-be) citing intrusive press and lack of support from the Palace in combatting tabloid stories as reasons she sought the divorce. (Also a problem: Andrew's "extensive travel schedule," good grief, what a euphemism.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:47 PM on January 12, 2023 [4 favorites]

I remember before he was married and they called him "Randy Andy."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:52 PM on January 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

^I still think "Koo" is a cute nickname.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:39 PM on January 12, 2023

Andrew was still serving in the Navy full-time when he married Sarah Ferguson. IIRC they couldn't find her somewhere to live that had enough security and was close to his naval base. So she was bored and lonely, and her appearance and relaxed attitude to life were portrayed negatively by the tabloids. There was then a major scandal over an affair she had and they divorced. I think she's probably had a much better life as Andrew's ex-wife than she would have had as his wife.

The way that tabloids really went after Sarah in the early years of her marriage, was later replicated with Sophie, Kate and then Meghan* when they married in. It is context (but not justification or excuse) for their response to the negative press coverage of Meghan. They anticipated it and assumed it would happen; this is picked up on in the book. Some people (staff, family) may have genuinely felt that action was fruitless, others may have considered the coverage an opportunity to exploit - if they're picking on Meghan they're not picking on me/my boss.

*Yes, the press coverage of Meghan was objectively worse than the others because the British press are institutionally racist and distrust foreigners. There's also a wide range of evidence to suggest that the BRF are at best oblivious to issues around race.
posted by plonkee at 7:05 AM on January 13, 2023 [3 favorites]

Jenfullmoon, I love this. I'm never going to read the book. I'm completely anti-monarchy. I just feel disgusted by the idea. Someone can be born and then somehow they're important? Fuck that. It's gross. But I've been fascinated by your summaries and I hope you continue. This has been a fun thread.
posted by downtohisturtles at 8:24 PM on January 13, 2023 [3 favorites]

I will, I have just been occupied with shows the last 2 days and haven't finished the last 100 pages or so yet. Hopefully I get that done tomorrow.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:56 PM on January 13, 2023 [8 favorites]

Do not stress over finishing the book, jenfullmoon. It will happen when it happens. Meanwhile, many of us appreciate your labors. Thank you!
posted by Bella Donna at 8:53 AM on January 14, 2023 [5 favorites]

Okay, I'm going to post writeups in chunks instead of finishing part 3 all in one go, since that's the juicy one.

Part 1: The Courtship (note: my designation, not the book's):

How'd Harry meet Meghan? Checking out her Instagram. "For thirty-two years I'd watched a conveyor-belt of faces pass by and only a handful had ever made me look twice. This woman stopped the conveyor-belt. This woman smashed the conveyor-belt to bits. I'd never seen anyone so beautiful." AWWWWW. He asks the mutual Instagram friend to connect them. They text constantly after that.

(There's another todger incident: Harry's sailing and ends up peeing his pants because there's no onboard loo. "If Ms. Markle could see me now.")

Harry's late to their date due to traffic and sweating bullets. Meghan's plan in life is "help people, do some good, be free." Interesting in retrospect, isn't that one. She travels to London semi-frequently. Harry feels all freaked out after the date (doesn't think it went well, I think), so he goes to a friend's house, gets stoned, and watches Inside Out. Meghan FaceTimes to catch this particular detail. They set another date for July 4, which goes very well (Harry brings patriotic cupcakes). Meghan says she's planned out some kind of "Eat Pray Love" sort of summer, but there's an open week in her schedule... hey, let's go to Botswana! They go to Mike and Teej's. They have a lovely time watching nature.

Harry notes that Chels and Cress had commented that he's happy in Botswana and tightly wound in England (can't imagine WHY...) and he's never been able to synthesize the two.

Harry goes on a boat trip, where he smartly stores his phone in the Jet Ski console instead of his pocket. Then they see a crocodile, swerve to avoid it, fall off the Jet Ski, and there goes the phone... Harry panics about losing Meg's number/texts/photos, etc. and while the phone dries out in ice, he works out a plan to write her an actual letter. Does anyone have a pen? A what? A pen. "I've got an EpiPen!" Actual quote: "A pen. A biro! My kingdom for a biro!" (I note that if this was science fiction, that pen Aunt Margo got him would finally turn up and be laugh but I totally read a sci-fi series with a random pen gifting that turned out to be useful.) Harry later buys a satellite phone to solve that problem. Later he writes her another letter and includes flowers he picked. "I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I hadn't let soaked phones, drunken mates, lack of mobile reception, or a dozen other articles, scuttle the beginning of this beautiful..."

Harry's personal rule is that you date a woman for three years before you commit, because it'll probably take that long for everyone to get to know each other and frankly, figure out if they can take royal life. But Meg already seemed like the exception to this rule. Harry likes that Meghan has obviously not Googled him, so she's not filled with misinformation.

They have a date, of sorts, where they're in a grocery store separately texting each other about what to get.

"Nott Cott was no palace. Nott Cott was palace adjacent--that was the best you could say for it." Meghan compares it to a frat house, and Harry says she's not far off. The place is tiny, low ceilings, shabby furniture, and it takes 30 seconds to give a tour. (So much for royal life.) They have Eugenie, Jack, and another friend over for a hangout dinner, and all is fine until Meghan gets food poisoning. Yes, date four ended in vomit. Meghan feels bad, Harry says that taking care of each other is the point. AWWWWWW. They agree to do an LDR, with Meghan having to do more of the traveling because it's less noticeable.

Willy and Kate FINALLY invite Harry to dinner to nose about his love life. They are thrilled (by which Willy yells "Fuck off!") that he is dating someone from Suits, because they watch the show. Harry is relieved--he thought he'd have to worry about them welcoming her into the family, but now all he has to worry about is they might want her autograph. (OH HARRY, I FEEL SO SAD RIGHT NOW READING THIS.) Harry expresses, again, his desire for them to be a happy foursome, and Willy once again shoots his hopes down by saying "anything might happen" and "She's an American actress, after all."

Uh-oh...just as Harry decides he may introduce Meg to others who aren't Eugenie, THE QUEEN POPS IN AT ROYAL LODGE, SURPRISE!!! you know how to curtsy? Meg thinks so, but wonders if this is a joke. "I know, but it's your grandma." "But she's the Queen." Fergie runs over and demonstrates, and both of them tell her what to say. Meg drops a flawless curtsy. The visit goes well, small talk about church and Canada is made, Meg and Harry feel bad about how dressed down they are but otherwise all goes well. After Granny leaves, Meg asks who was holding Granny's purse. Was that her assistant? No, that's Andrew. "She definitely hadn't Googled us."

Next up, meeting Willy (everyone else is out). Meg hugs Willy, he recoils. Meg's a hugger, Willy isn't. "The moment was a classic collision of cultures, like flashlight-torch, which felt to me both funny and charming. Later, however, looking back, I wondered if it was more than that. Maybe Willy expected Meg to curtsy? It would've been protocol when meeting a member of the Royal Family for the first time, but she didn't know, and I didn't tell her. When meeting my grandmother, I'd made it clear--this is the Queen. But when meeting my brother, it was just Willy, who loved Suits." Harry claims, "Whatever, Willy got over it." Fifty bucks says he didn't, say I. ..... It's a short visit. Willy claims to be happy for Harold. (For those of you wondering, "Harold" so far has not been explained in this book, beyond Harry having various silly nicknames throughout the book, and this is probably just another one.)

Harry mentions living at Clarence House from 19-28, and Camilla immediately using his room as a dressing room after that. He tried not to care, but he cared. Harry has Meg wear her hair down and little makeup to appeal to his father, and a nice dress. (We're told Granny likes "Kate's beautiful mane.") Harry told her ahead of time to curtsy to Pa but not Camilla ("I didn't think it appropriate."). Pa asks if Meg is on an American soap opera, Harry thinks, "no, that's our family, Pa." Everyone has a nice chat, particularly on the subject of Meg's dogs and acting. "Welcome to the family," Harry thinks.

(Harry mentions Googling for and watching some of her love scenes online, "It would take electric-shock therapy to get those images out of my head.")

Harry flies to Canada, where there's going to be another fancy dress party for Halloween. "I mumbled to Meg that I'd not had great luck with themed fancy-dress parties, but I'd give it another go." This time he calls up Tom Hardy and borrows his Mad Max costume. And THAT's the day the news of their relationship breaks.

"I'd been braced for the usual madness, the standard libels, but I hadn't anticipated this level of unrestrained lying. Above all, I hadn't been ready for the racism. Both the dog-whistle racism and the glaring, vulgar, in-your-face racism." He's horrified his mother country calls her "straight outta Compton" and worse. Boris Johnson writes an essay about her "rich and exotic DNA" thickening the Windsor gene pool and calling Doria from the wrong side of the tracks. Another one writes if Harry's allowed to marry a divorcee. When they print a story about Meg having an affair with a hockey player, Harry has the Palace lawyer call the paper. "The paper's response was a shrug and a raised middle finger." The papers do not care. The papers want you to sue, the lawyer says.

When not consulting with the lawyer, Harry is consulting Jason Knauf (THIS GUY from the documentary, as far as I can tell he's the one up to his neck in future "bullying at work" accusations), who at the time Harry thinks is very smart, but "a tad too cool about this unfolding crisis for my liking. He urged me to do nothing. You're just going to feed the beast. Silence is the best option." "Even after I'd convinced him that we needed to do something, say something, anything, the Palace said no. Courtiers blocked us hard. Nothing can be done, they said. And therefore nothing will be done." After the Huffington Post calls Harry out for his silence, he gets Jason to assist on a statement and lets it fly. The statement changed nothing, and made Pa and Willy chew him out for making them look bad. Why does this make them look bad? "Because they'd never put out a statement for their girlfriends or wives when they were being harassed." At one point during her visit to England, Meg makes a food run, where some guy recognizes her, wants a photo, then takes her photo a bunch of times after she says no, and all the other customers follow suit. She gets stalked all the way back. Meg still made him lunch after all of that.

"Three weeks later I was getting an HIV test at a drop-in clinic in Barbados. With Rhianna. Royal life."

Meg is hiding at a friend's house since she can't go home or to her mom's. Her parents snuck over for Thanksgiving... BUT DAD BROUGHT THE TABLOIDS WITH HIM AND WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THEM. "That didn't go well, and he ended up leaving early." Meg continues to be stalked everywhere and the police will do nothing. People are constantly banging at the door. The dogs are losing their minds. Neighbors are being harassed. Same goes for her mother.

Harry and Meg get into a fight--he takes something the wrong way but doesn't spell out what, and he snaps at her. She walks out, then later says she won't stand for being spoken to like that, and where did he get that from. Did you hear adults speak like that as a kid? ... Yes. She won't tolerate that or raise children with that. He says he tried therapy after Willy told him to go, never found the right person. Try again, she says.

"It's always nerve-wracking to meet a girlfriend's mother, but especially when you're currently making her daughter's life hell." (Right now the tabloids are saying she does porn.) Harry says the dinner was wonderful, but now he looks back on it as "the end of the beginning," as the harassment increases. Pa's advice: "Don't read it, darling boy." I might lose her, Harry says, having been dumped for this before, or she might get harmed. Pa says he's overreacting and "this is sadly just the way it is."

Harry sees an unidentified therapist to talk about his mum. "Help me cry." He goes into everything. "She said that, no matter how valid my complaints, I also sounded stuck." Stuck as 12-year-old traumatized Harry, specifically. The therapist hasn't heard all of the racist shit going on about Meghan and is shocked. Therapy helps bring back Harry's memories of his mum.

He does not like that Hilary Mantel (name not mentioned) called his family pandas to look at, and that someone else said that Diana's early death spared them all a lot of tedium. "But this panda crack always struck me as both acutely perceptive and uniquely barbarous. We did live in a zoo, but by the same token I knew, as a soldier, that turning people into animals, into non-people, is the first step in mistreating them, in destroying them. If even an celebrated intellectual could dismiss us as animals, what hope for the man or woman on the street?"

"The Sun ran a correction for their porn story. In a tiny box, on page two, where no one would see it. What did it matter? The damage had been done. Plus it cost Meg tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees."

Harry tries different arguments on his father--why aren't you outraged by them tormenting you? Why aren't you mad? "You adore her, you told me so yourself. You bonded over your shared love of music, you think she's funny and witty, and impeccably mannered, you told me--so why, Pa? Why? I couldn't get a straight answer. The conversation went in circles and when we hung up, I felt--abandoned." Meg tries to go to Camilla for advice, she just says this is what the press does to newcomers, it will pass in time, "that Camilla had been the bad guy once." So now it's Meg's turn, then?
"Camilla also suggested to Meg that I become Governor General of Bermuda, which would solve all our problems by removing us from the red-hot center of the maelstrom. Right, right, I thought, and one added bonus of that plan would be to get us out of the picture." Sounds rather like what happened to the Duke of Windsor (minus Nazis). Harry and Willy go to their mother's grave and Harry tries to get advice from him. "Don't worry, Harold. Nobody believes that shit." Oh yes they do, Harry says, "they come to believe it without even being aware." Willy has no answer to that, but does say he feels like his mother has been with him. Harry agrees, saying he feels like she helped him meet Meg. "Willy took a step back. He looked concerned. That seemed to be taking things a bit far. Well now, Harold, I'm not sure about that. I wouldn't say THAT!"

Harry and Meg say I love you for the first time and discuss her moving to England. He wonders if he's worth all of this, would anyone be.

Their first public event: Invictus Games in Toronto. Meg's outfit is pre-approved by the Palace but nobody knows it.

Harry tells his current secretary (nicknamed Elf) and Jason that he wants to propose. Elf notes that there's strict rules about that and Harry has to ask his grandmother for permission first. Yes, that's a real rule. Harry doesn't think that makes sense and he doesn't think Willy asked before proposing to Kate (HMMMMMMM), but his pa did before asking Camilla. The first six in line, the Royal Marriages Act of 1722. And apparently THIS is when Harry finds out about how Margaret wasn't allowed to get married to a divorce. He’s seriously never heard of this before AT ALL.(This is perhaps why you should pay attention in history class, Harry...okay, so this one wouldn’t have come up there, I learned it off The Crown...but this came before that episode, I think.) But Pa and Camilla got permission, Harry says, doesn't that mean the rule no longer applies? "That's them, Elf says. This is you." Oh yeah, and remember the Duke of Windsor?

Harry plots to ask Granny while on a family shooting trip, because “shooting trips always put Granny in a good mood. Perhaps she’d be more open to thoughts of love?” (Me: Shooting puts her in a good mood and may lead to thoughts of love?!?!) I apologize to everyone who's offended by the shooting mentions, I'm not going to mention more of it unless I have to.

Harry hops into a car with Pa and Willy, debates telling them his marital intentions, then decides not to because "Pa already knew, I assumed," (me: I doubt it, it's not like he pays attention...also, isn't it interesting he tells employees first and not the family?) "and Willy had already warned me not to do it. It's too fast, he told me. Too soon." (If I didn't know where this was going, I'd go "this from the guy who took around ten years to finally cave in and propose...").

"In fact, he'd actually been pretty discouraging about my even dating Meg....he'd predicted a host of difficulties I could expect if I hooked up with an "American actress," a phrase he always managed to make sound like "convicted felon." (Gee, and I thought Willy loved Suits.) Willy asked if he's sure, followed by "Do you know how difficult it's going to be?" Harry's response is, what do you want me to do, fall out of love with her?

Back to three men in a car: Pa politely asks about Meghan casually, "still, he didn't always ask, so I was pleased." He asks if Meghan plans to keep on acting. Harry says he thinks not since Suits films in Toronto. Pa: "Well, darling boy, you know there's not enough money to go around...I can't pay for anyone else. I'm already having to pay for your brother and Catherine."

"I remembered the time he and Camilla wanted Kate to change the spelling of her name, because there were already two royal cyphers with a C and a crown above: Charles and Camilla. It would be too confusing to have another. Make it Katherine with a K, they suggested. I wondered now what came of that suggestion. I turned to Willy, gave him a look that said: You listening to this? His face was blank."

"Pa didn’t financially support Willy and me, and our families, out of any largesse. That was his job. That was the whole deal. We agreed to serve the monarch, go wherever we were sent, do whatever we were told, surrender our autonomy, keep our hands and feet inside the gilded cage at all times, and in exchange the keepers of the cage agreed to feed and clothe us. Was Pa, with all his millions from the hugely lucrative Duchy of Cornwall, trying to say that our captivity was starting to cost him a bit too much?"

I would like to link to Celebitchy on this topic: "The Duchy of Cornwall is worth over a billion dollars and Charles receives an annual payout in the tens of millions, money which is supposed to go to support his own office and his sons’ offices and homes." This is an obvious fucking lie.

It occurs to Harry that really, Pa (and Camilla) don't want to be outshined again. Harry can't deal with this right now, "I had no time for petty jealousies and Palace intrigue," he's working out what to say to Granny. What will he do if she says no, since she generally doesn't change her mind on things? He can't imagine being without Meg OR being openly disobedient to Granny. Also, "I'd seen plenty of press reports, sourced to "the Palace," that some in my family didn't quite, shall we say, approve of Meg. Didn't fancy her directness. Didn't feel altogether comfortable with her strong work ethic." (I'm reminded of the whole Wills/Kate "work shy" accusations, plus what's to come....) "Didn't even enjoy her occasional questions. What was healthy and natural inquisitiveness they deemed to be impertinence. There were also whispers about a vague and pervasive unease regarding her race. "Concern" had been expressed in certain corners about whether or not Britain was "ready." Whatever that meant....Was I doomed to be the next Margaret?" Harry thinks about that biro pen and how many other things he's had to ask permission about.

I note as a side note that Harry refers to the corgis "as if they were my cousins." LOLOLOLOL.

Harry goes for it. He says he has to ask her permission and she says, "You have to?" "Well, yes, that's what your staff tell me, and my staff as well." Her response: "Well, then, I suppose I have to say yes." Harry tries to figure out if she's being sarcastic, before finally just going with the answer. He thanks her. (Note: I've been dying to know what else she thought on this topic, but apparently this is ALL she said.) He wants to hug her, but doesn't.

Harry gets a ring made for Meg. He asks Willy for a diamond bracelet of Mummy's and says what it's for. "I don't recall him hesitating, for one second, in giving it to me. He seemed to like Meg, despite his oft-cited concerns. Kate seemed to like her too." Harry recounts a dinner with the four that went well, with Meg fetching Willy a homeopathic cure-all for his cold. "He seemed charmed, moved, though Kate announced to the table that he'd never take such unconventional remedies." Harry notes that W&K "weren't brave enough to being superfans. Which was sweet." The one thing Harry notes is that Meghan shows up in ripped jeans and Kate is "done up to the nines. No big deal, I thought."

Meg quits Suits. "Life there had become untenable. Especially on set. The show writers were frustrated, because they were often advised by the Palace comms team to change lines of dialogue, what her character would do, how she would act." Meg also gives up her Internet activities, friends, car, her dog Bogart (who has gotten traumatized by the household harassment and needs to be given to the neighbors). Meanwhile, her other dog Guy had run away from his minder while Meg was at work and been found miles from home, "unable to walk. His legs were now in casts. I often had to hold him upright so he could pee." (I know some people have wondered if Meg's dog was deliberately hurt. Don't think anyone knows for sure here.) Harry is happy to finally have a dog, which he's always wanted but can't have while being a nomad.

Harry proposes in the garden, wearing large coats and parking on a blanket, with the dog. AWWWWWWWW. "We managed to keep it secret for about two weeks."
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:50 PM on January 14, 2023 [9 favorites]

Part 2: The Engagement/Wedding:

"Ordinarily, I'd have gone to Meg's father first, asked for his blessing. But Thomas Markle was a complicated man." LOLOLOLOLOL. Being polite, I see, Harry. Harry recounts how her parents broke up and custody and how close he and Meg used to be. However, a few years ago he stopped working regularly, moved to Mexico, and "sort of disappeared." He "wasn't doing well overall." Meghan doesn't think he can handle being stalked by the press,, and he's getting the same harassing/stalking treatment as everyone else. Harry notes that even before the stalking, he was a guy who nailed his windows shut, though. Meg gives her father the advice the Palace told her: don't talk to them, ignore them, they'll go away as long as you don't react. Hmmmm, I don't think that last part ever happened?

H&M want to get married ASAP (and wish they could do it as an elopement in Botswana), but the Palace couldn't seem to pick a date or a venue and they have to wait "for a decree from on high, from the nebulous upper regions of the royal decision-making apparatus." They go on an engagement tour of the UK, crowds love her. Finally, they pick a date.

The first and last public outing with W&K, the Royal Foundation Forum: Harry is happy to be dubbed "the Fab Four." And then days later, there's controversy about "Meg showing support for #metoo, and Kate not showing support--via their outfits?" Harry finds this confusing, but notes that it seems to have put Kate on edge and she doesn't like being compared/forced to compete with Meg. Then there's the lip gloss: Meg forgot hers before the show, asked Kate for help, Kate reluctantly provides some, Meg is careful not to touch the applicator. "Kate grimaced. Small class of styles, maybe? Something we should've been able to laugh about soon after. But it left a little mark. And then the press sensed something was up and tried to build it into something bigger."

Granny formally approves the marriage in March 2018 BY ROYAL DECREE, H&M get another dog, Harry is happy. Meg gets written off Suits with a wedding. "Decent of Suits, I thought, marrying Meg off the show instead of pushing her down a lift shaft. There were enough people in real life trying to do that."

He notes that the press calms down and focuses more on wedding details. "No detail too small, not even the Portaloos. It was reported that we'd be providing the poshest Portaloos on earth--porcelain basins, gold-plated seats--after being inspired by the ones at Pippa Middleton's wedding. In reality, we didn't notice anything different about how or where people went pee or poo at Pippa's, and we had nothing to do with choosing the Portaloos for ours. But we sincerely hoped that everyone would be able to do their thing in comfort and peace." LOLOLOLOLOL. "Above all else, we hoped the royal correspondents would continue to write about poo instead of trying to stir it up."

The Palace encourages them to feed the Royal Rota wedding details, and Harry says they obeyed. But he also bas them from the wedding "unless Murdoch himself apologized for phone hacking." The Palace scoffs at this and says it'd be all out war, Harry says let's go to war. The Rota can gather outside, but that's it.
Here's how Harry describes the Rota: "It had been devised some forty years earlier" (note: before Harry's birth, so he got born into this decision) "to give British print and broadcast reporters first crack at the Royal Family, and it stank to high heaven. It discouraged fair competition, engendered cronyism, encouraged a small mob of hacks to feel entitled."

Pa puts on a dinner and concert for H&M and he discusses his love of Beethoven, Meg discusses her (and her dogs') love of Chopin. Harry is charmed by the bond between them growing stronger. He's happy someone's treating Meg well.

Harry once again has to ask permission of keep his beard. Beards are forbidden in the British Army and he's going to wear his uniform. But he's not in the Army any more and he wants it because it "had become an effective check on my anxiety." He finds it calming, and Meg's never seen him without it. Granny grants the permission, saying she understands and "her own husband liked to rock a bit of scruff now and then.... But then I explained it to my brother and he...bristled? Not the done thing, he said. Military, rules, so forth." Harry, FINALLY READING UP ON HISTORY, recounts to him alt the bearded and uniformed royals. "Helpfully, I referred him to Google Images." LOLOLOL. This makes no dent in Willy, and when Harry says he got permission and thus Willy's opinion doesn't matter, "he became livid." And yells that Harold forced her to grant the permission. Harry reasonably points out that the Queen can say no if she wants to. Willy thinks that Harry is the favorite and holds Willy to a higher standard because Heir and Spare (okay, so that is shades of Charles and Andrew, perhaps this is fair), so he's mad and continues to argue about this for more than a WEEK. "He wouldn't let it go. At one point he actually ordered me, as the Heir speaking to the Spare, to shave." Seriously?! Why does this matter to you? "Because I wasn't allowed to keep my beard. And the wedding suit thing, he's still mad about that too. Harry tells him he's being ridiculous, Willy keeps getting angrier, finally Harry says he can either get on board or not, it's up to him.

Stag party night! Harry doesn't want to get TOO pissed for fear of Willy and his mates holding him down and shaving him-- "In fact, Willy told me, explicitly, in all seriousness, that this was his plan." (Why did this sentence not make any articles?! GEEEEEZ.) The party involves "boy toys" such as giant boxing gloves, bows and arrows, a mechanical bull, face painting, and Harry dressing up as a giant chicken while people shoot fireworks at him. Harry admits he offered to do it.

What should Meg wear? The powers that be permit her a veil, and Meg is originally offered Diana's tiara by her sisters. Then the queen offers access to her tiara collection and welcomes them to come over and try them on. A jewelry historian and the infamous Angela Kelly (Queen's dresser/confidant) are also there as Meg is offered five options to try on. Everyone agrees on a particular one and Granny says it'll be put in a safe and she looks forward to seeing Meg in it on the big day. She says to practice it ahead of time with the hairdresser and you don't want to be doing it for the first time on the wedding day.
A week later, they contact Angela about trying it on--apparently Kate and their own research says the veil has to be sewn on to the tiara--and "for some reason, however, Angela didn't respond to any of our messages." When she's finally reached, the said the tiara would require an orderly and a police escort to leave the Palace. Even Harry thinks this is a bit much, but fine, we'll do that. Can't be done, Angela says. Um, why? Her schedule's too busy. Harry debates going to Granny, but fears that would spark an all-out confrontation and I wasn't quite sure with whom Granny would side." Uh-oh. "Also, to my mind, Angela was a troublemaker, and I didn't need her as an enemy. Above all, she was still in possession of that tiara. She held all the cards."

"The official threat level, used by Palace security to allocate personnel and guns, had reached vertiginous heights. In pre-wedding conversations with police we learned that we'd become the prized target for terrorists and extremists." Harry's a bullet magnet again. Harry notes that despite reporting that the Palace instructed Meg in guerrilla warfare and survival tactics ("A bestselling book describes the day Special Forces came to our house, grabbed Meg, put her through several intense days of drills..."), none of this is true. "Meg wasn't given one minute of training. On the contrary, the Palace floated the idea of not giving her any security at al, because I was now sixth in line to the throne." Harry wishes he could call his Special Forces mates come in and train them, protect them, or grab the tiara. (Why didn't he?)

Angela FINALLY produces the fucking tiara, making him sign off on releasing it. She bitches him out when he says it would have been easier to have it sooner. She scares him with her evil glare. (I'm very glad that Charles gave her the boot after the Queen's death now.)

Meg's father is now constantly butthurt about what he reads about himself in the tabloids, Meg is spending months trying to soothe him. The guy doesn't photograph well when he's out buying a new loo. Meghan continues to advise him to ignore paps in person and be on guard against anyone pretending to be your friend. Then the Saturday before the wedding, Jason calls saying there's a problem. Dad's been working with paps and getting paid to stage "candid" photos. Thomas denies it on the phone when asked. Meg begs him to tell her the truth ("If it turns out you're lying, we'll never be able to kill a false story about ourselves, or our children, again."), he swears he didn't, Meg believes him. They tell him to leave Mexico and fly to Britain, they'll find him a safe house, they'll pay, everything. "He said he had things to do. Now Meg's face changed. Something was up. She turned to me again and sighed. He's lying. The story is godawful and obviously true. Thomas texts them that he's so ashamed. They keep calling and texting him, he won't answer. "Then we heard, along with the rest of the world, that he'd apparently had a heart attack and wasn't coming to the wedding." God, that guy is a shit.

The next day, Meg gets a text from Kate. The French couture dresses, made to measurements, all need altering. Which is fine, but Meg can't write back immediately because she's dealing with daddy drama. The next day she writes back that the tailor is standing by at the Palace. This is Not Okay and Kate calls to say that Charlotte hates her too-big dress and it made her cry. Can you take her to have it altered, Meg says. Kate demands that ALL dresses be remade and her own wedding dress designer agreed. Uh, are you aware of what's going on with my father right now? Yes, but the dresses...and the wedding's in four days! Also Kate "had other problems with the way Meg was planning her wedding. Something about a party for the page boys? Harry's all, half of them are from North America and haven't even arrived yet? This apparently goes on all day, and Harry comes home to find Meg sobbing on the floor after all of this. Harry doesn't think it's a total catastrophe, emotions are running high this week, he doesn't think Kate meant any harm, and "Indeed the next morning, Kate came by with flowers and a card that said she was sorry." Harry notes there's another eyewitness, Meg's best friend Lindsay, who can verify this. Harry just figures it's a simple misunderstanding.

The night before the wedding, Harry's out drinking with mates, seeming distracted. Where's Willy? He canceled at the last minute, like Meg's dad. He claims he can't do it because of Kate and the kids, Harry says we did it before YOUR wedding. Why are you doing this? I note that Harry also has a decoy best man situation going on, with his mate Charlie being "real" best man and the Palace saying Willy was his. Willy just says no, over and over again, and why does it even matter? "I'd always believed, despite our problems, that our underlying bond was strong. I'd thought brotherhood would always trump a bridesmaid's dress or a beard. Suppose not." Then finally, Willy changes his mind and says he'll come (maybe Granny intervened?), and they walk the streets, thanking people for coming. Harry invites Willy to dinner and perhaps spend the night, Willy says yes to the former but not the latter, citing kids again.

The wedding! It's very romantic. "For the last few months, not much had gone according to plan. But I reminded myself that none of that was the plan. This was the plan. This. Love." Pa walked Meg down, which moved her. It didn't make up for her father's behavior, but it helped.

Here's the part about the pre-ceremony ceremony: Harry says the archbishop did their wedding vows in their garden, a small ceremony, just them and the dogs. "Unofficial, non-binding, except in our souls." They wanted their first consecration of their love to be private. And also they've become slightly frightened of crowds. Harry notes that snipers were positioned at the public ceremony due to the unprecedented number of threats they were getting.

And that's the end of what I've got written so far, I've got the post-wedding drama and Sussexit to go.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:59 PM on January 14, 2023 [13 favorites]

I'm so glad that Meghan's plan B walking down the aisle was a positive thing for her. I thought her entrance into the chapel alone made a striking positive statement about bringing herself to the marriage. And I hoped that Charles walking with her instead of her father was the nice gesture it seemed intended to be under the circumstances. I was also so pleased that they used Common Worship for their service instead of the alternatives - no giving away of the bride at all!

I feel like on the wedding drama as it relates to William and Kate, it seems reasonable to point out that their youngest child was less than 4 weeks old on the day that Harry and Meghan got married. Clearly they're not without extensive support but it can't have helped.
posted by plonkee at 2:59 PM on January 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

The permission to marry thing is interesting. He (and between 1772 and 2013, everyone descended from George II) needed formal permission from the monarch and Privy Council and he really should have known that. But no one has ever actually been refused formal permission when they've applied for it. It's functioned as an extra step in applying for a marriage licence for the vast majority of the people it's affected in the last 50 or more years.

My guess at the exchange with Elizabeth is that she was gently teasing him, but you could read it in multiple ways.
posted by plonkee at 3:29 PM on January 14, 2023

I have no doubts Liz was serious in requiring everybody in the family to get her permission, and doubly so for Harry under the circumstances. I mean, a member of the royal family wanting to marry an American divorcee is the reason she and her offspring are on the throne. Anybody wanting to do something similar, even if they weren't directly in line to become monarch, would have been pushing a hell of a lot of buttons and sending up a barrage of red flags, and that's something the Queen didn't approve of whatsoever.
posted by sardonyx at 5:26 PM on January 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

And yet, Willy apparently didn't have to get permission, as far as Harry knows. Maybe he did and just didn't mention it, since it doesn't sound like Willy talked to anyone before proposing.

But no one has ever actually been refused formal permission when they've applied for it.

I'm not sure how to define that one with Margaret, exactly. That whole situation was kind of ambiguous and supposedly Margaret decided on her own to not marry Townsend, but it sounded like she couldn't get permission on the terms she wanted either? And wasn't Edward absolutely told no? Or is this a case of "they didn't actually formally apply, they just asked ahead of time?" I haven't researched this in technical details and it's been awhile since I read up on those people.

My guess at the exchange with Elizabeth is that she was gently teasing him, but you could read it in multiple ways.

Thought same, and frankly I couldn't tell from the book which it was.

Still writing the last part, it's quite a lot and I will need to wrap up for the night soon.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:40 PM on January 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

But no one has ever actually been refused formal permission when they've applied for it.

I'm not sure how to define that one with Margaret, exactly.

The Act said that permission must be granted by the Privy Council in order for a marriage to be valid. (For William, George, Charlotte, Harry, Archie, Lili it effectively still does.) It's a matter of public record when permission is applied for and whether it is granted. Here's the 2011 announcement regarding permission for William and Kate.

Margaret never applied, but it's known from state papers that Elizabeth was trying to find ways to allow her to marry Townsend, if that's what she wanted. Permission would have been given, but with conditions. She could not have married in church, but that was the then Archbishop of Canterbury's decision, not Elizabeth's. The attitude of the Church of England to divorce was crucial to what happened.

According to Edward VIII, he told the Prime Minister that if the government opposed his marriage to Wallis Simpson, he would abdicate. They considered various possibilities but in the end they did oppose, and he did abdicate. The permission issue is moot at that point since he was King, he'd have been asking himself. To avoid problems, the abdication act explicitly exempted him from asking permission.
posted by plonkee at 6:37 PM on January 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

And finally, part 3, Sussexit, part 1. I'm still not done copyediting and I gotta go for the night, so STILL more later:

The honeymoon is a closely guarded secret, they left in a "removals van," and went to the Mediterranean for ten days, where they felt ill afterwards from all the stress. That's all Harry says about it, then they returned for Trooping the Color. "Kate asked Meg what she thought of her first Trooping the Color. And Meg joked: Colorful. And a yawning silence threatened to swallow us all whole."
Meg goes off on her first and last solo trip with Granny, they get on famously and bond over dogs. Granny told her that bumpy cars set off labor. They feel like everything is going to get better now. However, the papers call the trip a disaster for Meg getting in a car before Granny (Granny told her to), and not wearing a hat (Palace told her not to). No one told Meg to wear green, so they said she didn't care about the victims of Grenfell Tower. Harry thinks the Palace will correct this, but YEAH RIGHT NO.

June 2018: Willy and Kate invite them over for tea to clear the air. Meg boggles at the fanciness of their home and renovation, while both of them think about how their place is decorated in IKEA and, which Meg paid for. (Honestly, for a "rich royal," is Harry all that rich?! How the hell much does he get from Pa?) Meg thinks they got on the wrong foot and wants to go back to early days. But what's this meeting about? "Willy and Kate were apparently upset that we hadn't gotten them Easter presents." Harry notes that he and Willy have never exchanged Easter gifts (Pa's the one that gives them) and is baffled, but they apologize. H&M are a bit miffed that W&K switched their place cars so they didn't have to sit next to each other (they "didn't like that tradition" of Americans sitting couples together). They insisted it wasn't them, it was someone else. And they said we'd done the same thing at Pippa's wedding." Harry denies that, saying they'd been separated by a giant flower arrangement and wanted to switch, but politely did not. "None of this airing of grievances was doing us any good, I felt. We weren't getting anywhere."

Kate is gripping the chair so that her knuckles are white and says she's owed an apology for Meghan hurting her feelings for saying Kate had baby brain when she forgot something or other. "You talked about my hormones. We're not close enough for you to talk about my hormones!" Meg is shocked/confused and apologizes, saying that's how she talks to her girlfriends."Willy pointed at Meg. It's rude, Meghan. It's not what's done here in Britain." Meg: "Kindly take your finger out of my face." Harry: "Was this really happening? Had it actually come to this? Shouting at each other about place cards and hormones? Meg said she'd never intentionally do anything to hurt Kate, and if she ever did, she asked Kate to please just let her know. We all hugged. Kind of. And then I said we'd better be going."

I feel like there's a million tiny infractions Meg inadvertently did (or didn't do, or Harry did/didn't do) that all boil down to W&K being all bitch eating crackers on Meg, and possibly the both of them.

There's bickering/rivalry/jealousy/competing agendas among the staff, and sides are taken, Team Cambridge vs. Team Sussex. Everyone is working around the clock to keep up with the press and "a constant stream of errors that needed clearing up" and there's not enough staff. "At best we were able to address 10 percent of what was out there." Harry notes that all feedback/"constructive criticism" given is seen as an affront/insult. More than one staff member collapses on their desks crying. GEEEEEEEEEZ.

(Look, I'm pretty well convinced Meghan didn't bully anyone. As a target of bullying myself, I assure you I CAN FUCKING GIVE EXAMPLES OF WHAT HAPPENED TO ME, AND DID WHEN ASKED, and the fact that nobody has anything beyond "she sent emails at 5 am" to report makes me think it was made up. BUT if the entire staff was THIS strung out, messed up, at war, crying, and taking any criticism as an insult...I can now see where that atmosphere may have given that impression.)

Willy blames ALL of it on Meg, tells Harry this multiple times, gets mad when Harry says he's out of line. "He was just repeating the press narrative, spouting fake stories he'd read or been told." (I'm thinking it's at least somewhat likely the press is getting these stories because they are originating from Willy, not that Willy's just reciting what he read. I guess this has not occurred to Harry, though.) Harry says the real villains are people he'd imported into the office from the government who like this drama and backstabbing, and Harry says they are setting the two sides against each other.

Harry reports that Meg remains calm and he never saw her speak a bad word about or to anybody. She sent handwritten thank you notes, checked on sick staff, sent baskets of food/flowers to anyone who's out or struggling, bought everyone new lamps and space heaters and free food, hosted parties, shared her freebies. I think she's a sweetie, I gotta say. Harry is especially impressed when "Mr. R," his old neighbor that annoyed him, has a son die and Meg wrote them a condolence letter and sent a plant when she didn't even know them. A week later Mr. R comes over and gives her a thank you note and a hug. "I felt so proud of her, so regretful about my feud with Mr. R. More, I felt regretful about my family feuding with my wife."

Meg's losing weight from stress while trying to get pregnant. They go visit Pa in Scotland, where Meg and Pa bond over her having the same birthday as Gam-Gam and Pa tells her stories of selkies. Later, Meg and Harry go out to the beach and watch seals, getting all excited and singing back to them, and Harry jumps into the water. Later on Pa's Aussie press chief is horrified at this and points out there's killer whales there "and singing to seals was like calling them to their blood-soaked deaths." Oh, UK, can't stop ruining things.

Back to the dinner scene: then Granny calls for Meg--she was responding to a letter Meg sent her, asking for advice about how to deal with her father. Granny said to forget the press, go see her father and try to talk some sense into him. Meg said she didn't know how the heck she'd get to Mexico and not be noticed/be safe, and "Granny acknowledged the many problems with this plan. In that case, perhaps write him a letter? Pa agreed. Splendid idea."

Meg's pregnant. Eugenie's getting married, they pull people aside privately to share the news there. Pa is delighted. "Willy smiled and said we must tell Kate....she also gave a big smile and hearty congratulations. They both reacted exactly as I'd hoped--as I'd wished."

The press, of course, reports that Meg is feeling awful. She's not. They go on tour and it goes amazingly well. "She was so brilliant that midway through the tour I felt warn her. You're doing too well, my love. Too damn well. You're making it look too easy. This is how everything started...with my mother. Maybe I sounded mad, paranoid. But everyone knew that Mummy's situation went from bad to worse when she showed the world, and showed the family, that she was better at touring, better at connecting with people, better at being "royal," than she had any right to be. That was when things really took a turn." Harry reports that "not a negative word was written" upon their return, but then everything changed back to worse again.

Here’s a list of the horrible stories that started coming out:
* Harry throws a tantrum before the wedding, written by “a hack biographer of Pa.”
* Meg makes the staff miserable by emailing people too early in the morning. Harry points out she didn’t expect an instant reply.
* Meg makes a staff member quit--in reality she got asked to resign by Palace HR because she was trading on her position to get freebies. (This is Melissa Toubati, a friend of Jason’s.) They won’t talk about what happened, so rumors fill the void.
* “Duchess Difficult” now gets around.
* Meghan supposedly demands a tiara of Diana’s and when the Queen denies it, Harry throws a fit and demanded that whatever Meghan wants, she gets.
* And finally, the “Kate made Meghan cry” story. Meghan is trying not to read this stuff, but she can’t avoid hearing about this one. Her response: Haz, I made her cry. I made HER cry?”

H&M summon W&K for a second summit at their house in December 2018. ”Kate got things rolling straightaway by acknowledging that these stories in the papers about Meg making her cry were totally false. I know, Meghan, that I was the one who made you cry. I sighed, Excellent start, I thought. Meg appreciated the apology, but wanted tok now why the papers had said this, and what was being done to correct them? In other words, Why isn’t your office standing up for me? Why haven’t they phoned this execrable woma nwho wrote this story, and demanded a retraction?”
”Kate, flustered, didn’t answer, and Willy chimed in with some very supportive-sounding evasions, but I already knew the truth: No one at the Palace could phone the correspondent, becasue that would invite the inevitable retort: Well, if the story’s wrong, what’s the real story? What did happen between the two duchesses? And that door must never be opened, because it would embarrass the future queen. The monarchy, always, at all costs, had to be protected.”

(Note from me: I’m still wondering where the hell “tights” came in. Not a mention of it here.)

The conversation moves to where the story came from and who planted it. Finally, Willy admits that he let it slip while at dinner with Pa and Camilla. Harry is all, you of all people should have known.... ”More silence. It was time for them to go.”

More ridiculous stories are out, such as Meghan being singularly responsible for the End Times because of eating avocado toast (but it’s fine for Kate to eat them)., or Meg’s bra strap shows, or she wore a dress, or she painted her fingernails, or she shut her own car door. Stories now come out about Meghan being a witch and causing people to run from her. ”And in building this super-narrative the press was clearly being assisted by someone or multiple someones inside the Palace. Someone who had it in for Meg.” So literally could be almost anyone, then? I presume not the Queen, but anyone else....?

Nott Cott is falling down, Harry has to call Granny and tell her they need a new place to live. He says he’s discussed housing with the Palace and was offered various properties, but they were too grand and too expensive to renovate. Granny offers Frogmore Cottage. They remodel it and while that’s happening, rent a place in Oxfordshire near Pa’s old butler Kevin, who was a friend to Diana because she’d hang out with staff. Then their location gets outed...never mind.

Meg wants to die and is having a sobbing breakdown. What did she do to deserve this? (Me: she’s being hated for her own existence.) Without her, none of this would be happening. ”It’s so clear, she kept saying, it’s so clear. Just stop breathing. Stop being. This exists because I exist.” (Know the feeling, Meg.) While Harry’s comforting her, he notes that he can’t stop thinking like a fucking royal because they have an event tonight and can’t be late and Meg will be blamed for it. ”Slowly--too slowly--I realized that tardiness was the least of our problems.” He says she should skip it and he’ll leave fast, she says she shouldn’t be left alone at home right now, so they go. She cries in the royal box.

Jason texts to announce that Meghan’s letter to Tom has been published. He gave it to the Daily Mail. This is Harry’s personal ENOUGH moment. The paper knew it was illegal to publish it, but they did it anyway because Meg was defenseless, not supported by the family, and how could they have known this except from the family or people close to them? The papers knew Meg can’t sue because there’s only one lawyer for the Palace and they won’t allow it. The letter is edited to make her sound worse and “handwriting experts” say how she crosses her T’s means she’s horrible. She has excellent penmanship, dammit. ”Now people were trying to say that this was some kind of window into her soul? And the window was dirty?” Even the Guardian says that tormenting her is a national sport, but nobody feels bad about it. What if there’s a divorce or another death? ”What had become of all the shame they’d felt in the 1990s?” They confer with Palace lawyers, get the runaround. Pa and Willy vehemently oppose legal action, why? They hem and haw that it’s not the done thing. ”I told Meg: You’d think we were suing a dear friend of theirs.”

Willy and Harry have a wife-less private meeting. Willy is “piping hot” and calling Meg difficult, rude, abrasive, alienating half the staff. Harry says it’s rubbish and he expected better. ”I was shocked to see that this actually pissed him off. Had he come here expecting something different? Did he think I’d agree that my bride was a monster?” Harry points out that isn’t this institution toxic for newcomers and can’t he cut her some slack? OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. ”He’d come to lay down the law. He wanted me to agree that Meg was wrong and then agree to do something about it. Like what? Scold her? Fire her? Divorce her? I didn’t know. But Willy didn’t know either, he wasn’t rational.” Harry notes that Willy seems pissed off that Harry is defying him and is in full Heir mode and can’t fathom why Harry’s not following the script. Nobody’s listening. Willy calls Harry all kinds of names (not spelled out), says Harry doesn’t care and won’t take responsibility, claims he’s trying to help.

And here’s where Willy rips off Harry’s necklace and knocks him on the floor into the dog’s bowl. (Y’all have read this.) Harry tells him to get out, Willy encourages Harry to hit him instead, saying he’ll feel better if he hits him. ”No, only you’ll feel better if I hit you.” Harry asks him to leave again, Willy just stomps back into the living room, cools off, then returns to apologize, and says not to tell Meg about this. ”I didn’t attack you, Harold.” Harry says he won’t tell her, and after Willy leaves, calls his therapist. However, when Meg comes back and sees Harry coming out of the shower, he’s all scraped and bruised down his back, and has to tell her. She wasn’t that surprised or at all angry, she was terribly sad.

How awful is it that she wasn’t even surprised or angry that her husband’s brother threw him to the floor? HOW UGLY HAVE THINGS BEEN THAT THIS WASN’T EVEN A SHOCKER FOR HER?! Has Willy thrown Meghan around or done worse around her while they were alone (dear god, I hope Harry never left them alone, doubt it) or called and threatened her? Is he always trying to beat up Harry? Harry says they had a mlllion physical fights as kids, but this felt different.

I read an article about how Harry said he turned in a double-the-pages book (so 800 pages) and he has EVEN MORE stuff about Pa and Willy he didn’t say publicly yet. JESUS.

Cambridge and Sussex offices split up. The public groans, press has thoughts, the family is dead silent, publicly and privately. Pa and Granny say nothing. Harry wonders why he assumed his faimly would be on his side. If they can’t stand up for each other or their newest family member, are they even a family? ”Isn’t “defending each other” the first rule of every family?” (Me: no. Should be, but no.) Meg and Harry move their office and move into Frogmore.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:45 PM on January 14, 2023 [11 favorites]

And yet, Willy apparently didn't have to get permission, as far as Harry knows. Maybe he did and just didn't mention it, since it doesn't sound like Willy talked to anyone before proposing.

I wonder whether there's a mixup in what Harry was told or believed about getting permission. They both had a genuine legal requirement to get formal permission, but Harry may have believed that he also needed to get permission to propose in the sense that some men ask for permission from a woman's father before proposing. If that's the case, it's hard to tell whether the second version was actually a real expectation within the BRF or just a misunderstanding by Harry.

I'm so glad my family isn't this complicated.
posted by plonkee at 6:46 PM on January 14, 2023

Honestly, for a "rich royal," is Harry all that rich?! How the hell much does he get from Pa?

Between them William, Kate, Harry and Meghan were receiving around £5 million a year, which included all the staff costs for their offices. It's not broken down as to who got what as far as I know. This was funded by the £20+ million a year income Charles had from the Duchy of Cornwall. Security is extra and public funded.

Harry has a personal fortune, mainly inherited from his mother (who had a good divorce settlement). There are various estimates but something in the region of £15 million to £30 million is a reasonable assumption. It really depends on how well his inheritance was invested and if/when he started spending the income. Harry is believed to have inherited slightly more than William.

Harry is not very rich for a royal. He almost certainly had a lot more money of his own than any of his cousins and probably a bit less than, say, Anne does. In the BRF only the monarch and the heir to the throne are eye wateringly wealthy. And even so, Pippa Middleton married into about twice as much money as her sister Kate did.
posted by plonkee at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

Based on what you've posted, jen, it seems like Harry did Meghan a disservice by not educating her enough about royal protocol. If he knew that the family (and the press) was inhospitable to outsiders entering in, hungry to catch out their mistakes, he should have made sure she was thoroughly and completely schooled. And honestly after the first few public wrist-slaps, Meghan should have insisted Harry show her all the ropes.

No, I'm not saying that this would have solved all the problems. It wouldn't have. I'm just saying there is no point in handing your enemies ammunition and telling them to shoot you with it.
posted by sardonyx at 7:34 PM on January 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

April 2019: What was Willy so angry about? He calls to rant about Pa and Camilla’s people planting a story about him and Kate and he’s not going to take it any more. Harry blames is on the newest gung-ho member of Pa’s team, who’s been peddling stories about the brothers everywhere. This person was going around saying that Harry was craving blood and trophies in hunting, Harry says he was helping to cull wild boar. ”I believed the story has been offered as a straight swap, in exchange for greater access to Pa, and also as a reward for the suppression of stories about Camilla’s son.” Even Harry thinks Willy is getting more treatment than everyone else lately.

Harry recounts accompanying Willy when he goes to chew out Pa about this. ”How can you be letting a stranger do this to your sons?” Pa calls them both paranoid and just because Pa is getting good press and they are not doesn’t mean his staff is behind it. The boys cite reporters actually confirming it to them. Pa’s response is, ”Grammy has her person,” (Angela Kelly, who also plants stories), ”why can’t I have mine?” Willy asks why anyone would want their own Angela and that’s rubbish, but Pa sticks to his “I want MY person” BS.
Harry tries to connect the stories about Willy to the ones about Meg, and Willy snaps and yells, ”I’ve got different issues with you two!” and at this point Harry blocked out all the nasty things Willy said. Willy is so loud that Meg can hear it even when not on speakerphone.

The comms and Palace teams start harassing Meghan for not having given birth yet. ”The press can’t wait forever, you know.” FFS. They sneak off to get checked on/induce, and Harry huffs ALL of Meg’s laughing gas. Me: Seriously, dude?! I get you’re stressed out, but FFS. Meg’s reaction is to roll her eyes and laugh, even the nurse has to laugh once they figure out he used it ALL. I will not get into birth details, but Archie finally comes out. The news goes out saying she’s gone into labor and Harry has a tiff with their press lady about it. ”She explained that the press must be given the dramatic, suspenseful story they demanded. But it’s not true, I said. Ah, truth didn’t matter. Keeping people tuned to the show, that was the thing.” This is why I keep saying the royals are reality TV and only here for the entertainment factor. Harry announces the birth, the press are pissed off. Someone posts a picture of a chimpanzee and labels it “royal baby leaves hospital.”

Harry has a long tea with Granny, recapping the detail. She is shocked, calls it appalling, and sends “the Bee” to talk with them. Harry refers to three middle-aged white man courtiers who are Machiavellian. He dubs them “The Bee. The Fly. And the Wasp.” According to the New York Times: ”Two people with ties to Buckingham Palace identified the courtiers as Edward Young, who served as private secretary to the queen; Clive Alderton, the private secretary to Charles; and Simon Case, who was private secretary to William and is now the government’s Cabinet Secretary, the highest post in the British civil service. The two people insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.”

Harry gives ... interesting...descriptions of them all. The Bee buzzes around until he stings, the Fly is attracted to everything awful but pretends to be helpful, the Wasp pretends to be polite while arguing with you about it passive-aggressively, then stabs you.”I disliked these men, and they didn’t have any use for me. They considered me irrelevant at best, stupid at worst. Above all, they knew how I saw them: as usurpers. Deep down, I feared that each man felt himself to be the One True Monarch, that each was taking advantage of a Queen in her nineties, enjoying his influential position while merely appearing to serve.” Harry notes that his previous experience with the Wasp about bad press was that he agreed to everything they said and then they never heard from him again. The exact same thing happens with The Bee, nothing.

H&M call Elton John and his husband and ask for help. They visit in France. Elton mentions that he’s going to let the Daily Mail serialize his book and Harry is all why?! Elton is all, I want people to read it, and Harry’s all what, the people who made your life miserable? Elton says, “Who better to excerpt it? Where better than the very newspaper that’s been so poisonous to me my whole life?” Harry does not get this logic. Elton can’t really answer. Harry gives up on pushing him. I note that Elton and David were all, why don’t you hire your own lawyer instead of using the Palace’s, and Harry’s all DUH WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THAT, and sues.

People love Meg in South Africa. I don’t see anything about the fire incident (it was that tour, right?).

Harry tells the family that he’s suing--calls Granny and Pa, texts Willy, notifies The Bee, who wishes them luck and then claims to have had no advanced notice. ”The lawsuit wasn’t covered as widely as, say, Meg’s daring to shut her own car door. In fact, it was barely covered at all.” Friends ask him why he’s doing it. And then this story about deadly wedding flowers comes out. ”Never mind that previous royal brides, including Kate and my mother, had also used lilies of the valley...The story of Meghan the Murderess was just too good.”

The Bee demands that Willy join Granny and Pa for lunch at the Palace. The Wasp also attends. Pa says it damages their reputation with the press and makes their relationship complicated. Harry points out that everyone, even Granny, has sued the press, what’s different now? No answer to that. Everyone just stares at her. I won’t even repeat the list of horrible things Harry recounts being said about Meghan at this point, but ”none of these things had merited one comment, public or private, from my family.” They rationalize it as the same things that happened to Camilla and Kate, but Harry says that data specialists and computer analysts have proven this is worse. People are incited to hate, and someone sent their office suspicious white powder. Harry says they’ve asked for support, Bee and Wasp claim somehow they’ve never been notified of this. disgusting.

Harry recounts another horrible argument between him and Willy in which Willy was originally sympathetic to Harry getting choked up while giving a speech, saying he needs therapy. Harry says he’s in therapy, and then it becomes a giant text fight for days, because of course it does. ”I was a stranger to my older brother. He could no longer relate to me--tolerate me.” Harry saved the texts and reads them periodically, wondering how they got here. (Harry, please delete these, this sounds awful.) Willy finishes the fight by claiming he loves Harry and wants to help and will never feel any other way. Um.

H&M split to Vancouver Island and enjoy it, until the tabloids out them again. This experience does give them the “half in, half out” idea, though. Where could they go? Harry says he’s floated the idea by Granny before and she’d even signed off on it, but Pa insisted on it being written up--and of course it was leaked. Pa insists on writing this one up again, Harry protests, Pa says these things have to go through government. Harry sends documentation that’s watermarked and marked private and confidential, saying they’ll sacrifice everything, including their Sussex titles. Charles refuses to answer the phone, emails saying he wants to discuss in person, but then won’t do it for like a month. Harry reiterates that he doesn’t want this to go public, Charles makes a veiled threat that it’s disobeying orders if they pursue this before a sit-down meeting.

Harry phones Granny (January 3, 2020) and says she’s free all week and offers to have them stay at Sandringham. When told that Pa won’t be coming because he can’t leave Scotland until the end of the month, Granny sighs and says, ”I have only one thing to say about that....Your father always does what he wants to do.” Two days later, they’re told that Granny can’t see them and he’s not allowed to come visit and he can’t get any kind of meeting with her that month. No announcements will happen until a meeting takes place, which won’t be happening. ”They’re blocking me from seeing my own grandmother.” He calls Granny and she says in a weird voice that something came up that she wasn’t aware of, and “Um. Well. I’m busy all week. At least, she added, that was what the Bee told her... Is he in the room with you, Granny? She says nothing.

They receive news that their plan is about to be outed by someone who’s friends with Willy’s comms secretary. They want to rush out a statement--and warn Granny about this, she says she’ll allow it as long as it doesn’t add to speculation. Harry gives her a brief rundown. They realize they don’t have time to come up with a precise, bland, perfect statement and there’s nothing they can do to beat the story. Which comes out--with the detail about relinquishing the titles. ”There was only one document on earth in which that detail was mentioned--my private and confidential letter to my father.” To which a shockingly, damningly small number of people had access. We hadn’t mentioned it to even our closest friends.”
They work on their statement. ”One staffer message the private secretaries of Granny, Pa and Willy, told them what was coming. Willy’s guy replied immediately: This is going to go nuclear.” They post it to the ‘gram.

The Sandringham Summit happens while Meg’s in Canada with Archie. Harry’s not allowed to be alone with Granny and Willy looks ready to murder Harry. Harry recaps the drama so far. Willy grumbles that he’s being accused of driving them out of the family. ”I wanted to say: We had nothing to do with that story...but imagine how you might have felt if we had leaked it. Then you’ll know how Meg and I have felt the last three years.” The bugs list five options for this:

1: continuance of status quo, nobody leaves, everything goes back to normal.
2: no mention of 2?
3: compromise, “closest to what we’d originally proposed”
4. no mention of 4?
5. full severance, no royal role, no working for Granny, total loss of security.

Harry says he is desperate to keep security. Various Palace veterans voted for option 3when talking to him. The family will only accept #1, followed by #5. An hour of discussion happened, then The Bee hands out paperwork with implementation of #5. You’ve already drafted a statement? Where’s the other options, asks Harry. This was just for show? No answer. And uh, my printer ran out on the other drafts. Harry’s all, is this some kind of joke? Everyone stares at their shoes. Harry goes out for some air and runs into Lady Susan (yes, THAT one) and Mr. R and they ask if anything can be done. Well, no.

Harry is being worn down and at this point doesn’t even care what option as long as he gets security. Since birth he hasn’t been allowed to go anywhere without three armed guards. He offers to pay for his own security out of pocket (he’s not sure how at this point but will find something), says all they care about is working, serving, and staying alive. The agreement is that things will be sorted out over the next year and he will continue to have security.

Harry goes to The Bee’s office and finds the printer in perfect working order, of course. (Of course, The Bee hears his assistant saying the printer works.) Willy joins him and they discuss staff members plotting against Meg and taking payments. Willy says he’ll look into it.

Upon getting into the car, Harry finds out he’s signed off on a strongly worded denial from the Palace that he’s being bullied out of the family. He obviously had no idea he’d “done” this. He does get to participate in the drafting of the “stepping back” statement, they’ll reimburse the Sovereign Grant for refurbishing Frogmore, and “no comment” on the status of their security.

”If our leaving posed a threat to the monarchy, as some were saying, then it posed a threat to all those covering the monarchy for a living. Hence, we had to be destroyed.”

Harry comments that one lady, “who’d written a book about me and thus probably depended on me to pay her rent,” claimed they’d left without telling Granny or Pa, which became the truth in public. He wonders why people are like this. Money, dear boy, I say. He muses on how the Crown’s cost is unknowable--it costs taxpayers, but brings in tourist revenue, does exist upon enslavement. Harry cites a study saying that the monarchy costs the average taxpayer the price of a pint each year, which sounds like a pretty sound investment to him, but nobody wants to hear that out of him, or hear why he thinks the monarchy should exist either, so he’ll leave the cost-benefit analysis to others.

”My problem has never been with the monarchy, nor the concept of monarchy. It’s been with the press and the sick relationship that’s evolved between it and the Palace. I love my Mother Country, and I love my family, and I always will. I just wish, at the second-darkest moment of my life, they’d both been there for me. And I believe they’ll look back one day and wish they had too.”

Probably not, Harry :(

Where to live? They originally shoot for Canada. Meg asks if he thinks they’ll pull security and Harry says no way, not after what happened to his mother, and they haven’t even pulled it for Andrew (“he was embroiled in a shameful scandal, accused of the sexual assault of a young woman, and no one had so much as suggested that he lose his security.”) By February, they’re told the security is being pulled. ”The threat level of us, Lloyde said, was still higher than for that of nearly every other royal, equal to that assigned to the Queen. And yet the word had come down and there was to be no arguing...The ultimate nightmare. The worst of all worst-case scenarios.” And he can’t have a gun in Canada. ”I rang Pa. He wouldn’t take my calls.” God, what a fucking asshole he and the Queen are to do this to them. Willy responds, saying ”it was a government decision. Nothing to be done.” Lloyde argues to stay in the job, but he’s told as of March 31, they’re by themselves. Harry tries to find other security (the Palace does direct him to a firm), who say it’ll be six miilion a year. Harry hangs up.

(Wow, that’s officially worse than the $3 million I heard previously.)

And then Harry hears that Caroline, one girl he briefly dated (she’s mentioned in the book but I summarized that more), has killed herself. I don’t know anything about Caroline Flack, or if she was STILL being stalked by paparazzi years after dating Harry for a very short time, but he says that ”the relentless abuse at the hands of the press, year after year, had finally broken her.”


Tyler Perry sent a note of support to them before the wedding. H&M hop on FaceTime with him and tell him the whole story. He offers them his house in LA (he’s not in it at the moment), saying it’s secure. Why are you doing this? ”My mother loved your mother.” Awwwwwww. ”After your mother visited Harlem, that was it. She could do no wrong in Maxine Perry’s book.” Tyler also pays for the security. They love the house and Archie has a great time there. He likes a painting of the goddess Diana. It gives the adults chills.

They get six weeks of safety (again) before the paparazzi figure out where they are, and then the fence gets cut and they can’t go outside any more. And while Harry’s trying to figure out paying for security, Pa cuts him off financially. Harry admits this sounds ridiculous for a grown-ass man, but his father’s paid for him his entire life, and he’s unemployable. Harry notes that as an adult he almost never carried money, owned a car, had a house key, didn’t order anything online, and went on the Underground once. He wasn’t allowed to be independent like that. Now what? And Meg’s pregnant again.

They find a place outside Santa Barbara, where the koi are stressed (”So are we. We’ll all get along famously.”), but are told they’ll have to get a koi guy. First world problems. They move in, but Meg’s under stress over her court case and her previously anonymous friends who helped with a People article about her are likely to be outed and thus destroyed. Meg miscarries. They bury the remains on their property.

Christmas 2020, and the couple has signed several corporate partnerships that will provide for their security and to do their work. Meg gets Harry a Christmas ornament of the Queen (she spotted it in a store!) and they hang it up, and then Archie knocks into the tree and the Queen falls off and breaks. Harry finds this all weird.

February 2021, H&M are stripped of most of their patronages, and his military associations. They won’t do ANY service whatsoever for the Queen. They write their own statement saying they won’t stop doing service. Harry learns to finally just stop reading everything awful on the Internet, but people still tell him what’s going on and they have to ask people to stop. He wasn’t even allowed to have a wreath donated in absentia. ”Nowhere in the world would any proxy be permitted to lay any sort of wreath at any military grave on behalf of Prince Harry, I was told.” He finally gets an old instructor of his at Sandhurst to do the job for him at one memorial and the instructor says, ”And by the by, Captain Wales. Fuck this. It’s proper wrong.”

Harry contacts an unnamed psychic who claims to feel his mother around him, says the answers he’s looking for will come in time, be patient (me: generic). The lady tells him that he’s living the life his mother couldn’t and wanted for him. However, she does mention a Christmas ornament of a mother or grandmother who broke ... mom had a bit of a giggle about that. (Make of this what you will, folks. I know MeFi in general hates the woo, and I think most of this is generically exactly what a cold reading would say to Prince Harry about his mother, but that ornament thing...HUH.)

Back to Gramps’s funeral again, nearly 400 pages later. Pa and Willy still claim to have NO IDEA why he quit, Harry’s feeling fed up. They won’t ask about Meg but do ask about the lawsuit. Still going. Pa calls it a suicide mission, Harry says maybe, but it’s worth it. He wants some of them thrown in jail. Pa calls journalists scum of the earth, but.... ”There was always a but with him when it came to the press, because he hated their hate, but oh how he loved their love.” Harry posits that since Pa was deprived of love as a kid, maybe this was the root of the problem. Pa’s solution is essentially, wait until you’re dead, then they love you, look how they treated Gramps And don’t take it personally..”If you could just endure it, darling boy, for a little while, in a funny way they’d respect you for it.” (Me: endure it for his entire life. Also, I don’t know if Prince Phillip gave a shit about people razzing him?) Harry says he might learn to endure the press and forgive their abuse, but his own family’s complicity is going to take longer to get over.

This is the point where he mentions the Meg’s-a-bully campaign, saying that he and Meg wrote up a 25-page evidence-filled report to Human Resources about it. Pa and Willy call him delusional over it, Harry disagrees.

”Pa said, You must understand, darling boy, the Institution can’t just tell the media what to do! Again, I yelped with laughter. It was like Pa saying he couldn’t just tell his valet what to do.” Willy brings up the chat with Oprah and says he can’t judge.

Harry notes that the Meghan’s-a-bully stories started coming out right before the Oprah interview aired. They had to try something to make it stop, being silent wasn’t working and was making it worse, they felt like they had no choice. Several close friends and Tiggy had chastised him for Oprah and said how could you reveal such things about your family. He said it wasn’t any different from his family briefing and leaking over the years, not to mention cooperating with book writers. H&M are just upfront about it and open about what they are saying instead of hiding behind vague sources.

Harry’s about to walk out of this not-working conversation, but Willy’s still in a rage and screaming it’s Harry’s fault for not asking for help. EXCUSE ME?!?! Harry refers to this as bending the knee, otherwise no help from The Heir. ”If we were being mauled by a bear, and he saw, would he wait for us to ask for help?” Didn’t I ask during the Sandringham Summit? Willy blames it on Granny and grabs Harry’s shirt AGAIN and screams at him that he wants Harold to be happy. He does this twice and swears on Mummy’s life. Harry notes that that’s their private code word for extreme crisis, please believe me quickly. Except Harry doesn’t believe him or trust him, and vice versa. I really don’t think you do, Harry says. He notes that their fondest family memories tend to be around death, and he thinks the family is a death cult. Harry zones out on the rest of the family yelling and mentally vacates to California, wondering when someone in the family (other than him, I guess) is going to break free and live.

Lilibet is born. NO laughing gas is provided on tap. The last line of the (intended) book is, ”That is not a Spare.”

Epilogue, obviously added after Granny's death: It’s the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death, and Harry and Meghan are boating out to her grave. They pray and speak to her in their heads. Soon after that, they get the call about Granny. Harry texts Willy to ask about how they are getting there, OF COURSE HE GETS NO RESPONSE. Pa finally calls and says that Harry is welcome at Balmoral, BUT.... he didn’t want...He started to lay out his reason, which was nonsensical, and disrespectful, and I wasn’t having it. Don’t ever speak about my wife that way. He stammered, apologetic, saying he simply didn’t want a lot of other people around. No other wives were coming, Kate wasn’t coming, he said, therefore Meg shouldn't. Then that’s all you needed to say.”

Harry can’t get a commercial flight, no response from Willy, finally charters a plane out of Luton, flashes back to talking to Granny the last few times. As he lands, he gets a text from Meg saying to call the moment he gets it. He checks the BBC website. You know what he read.

Harry arrives, Pa and Willy and Camilla have fled, Anne’s there to let him see his granny one last time. He hopes she’s happy. Pa, Willy, and Camilla don’t show up for dinner. The next day, he flies out on British Airways at daybreak. People on the plane give him better condolences. They go through the funeral--he and Willy are shoulder to shoulder at this one--and they then fly home.

Harry mentions the final visit with Granny and his kids: “Archie making deep, chivalrous bows, his baby sister Lilibet cuddling the monarch’s shins. Sweetest children, Granny said, sounding bemused. She’d expected them to be a bit more...American, I think? Meaning, in her mind, more rambunctious.” Harry misses his grandmother, musing on the good times they had and the secret glances they gave each other in photos.

A hummingbird gets into the house, someone tells him that could be a sign. Harry looks this up later. At the time, he gently catches it in a net and moves it outside. It flies away.

The end. *takes bow* Seriously this is all I did for most of the day and I feel like I did NaNoWriMo in a weekend :P
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:36 PM on January 14, 2023 [23 favorites]

And then Harry hears that Caroline, one girl he briefly dated (she’s mentioned in the book but I summarized that more), has killed herself. I don’t know anything about Caroline Flack, or if she was STILL being stalked by paparazzi years after dating Harry for a very short time, but he says that ”the relentless abuse at the hands of the press, year after year, had finally broken her.”

Caroline Flack was a TV presenter who killed herself after finding out that she was going to be prosecuted for assault. She had poor mental health and the coroner found that she couldn't cope with the thought of the expected press onslaught.

Flack had been onscreen since 2002 and was most famous in the UK for presenting Love Island from 2015. At the time it was the most popular TV show on the most popular TV channel. Her having briefly dated Harry is a bit of a footnote to what happened rather than the driving factor.
posted by plonkee at 1:47 AM on January 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Thank you for all the summarizing work, jenfullmoon! Much appreciated.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:02 AM on January 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Based on what you've posted, jen, it seems like Harry did Meghan a disservice by not educating her enough about royal protocol. If he knew that the family (and the press) was inhospitable to outsiders entering in, hungry to catch out their mistakes, he should have made sure she was thoroughly and completely schooled.

He does come off as a bit naive in that regard. Maybe Diana did too good a job at her efforts to give the boys as close a semblance to a normal family life as she could in his formative years, leaving him with unrealistic expectations of the rest of them. Or maybe he falsely believed that given his status as the "spare" people would care less. I suppose it's even possible that he was afraid of scaring her off.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:28 AM on January 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

it seems like Harry did Meghan a disservice by not educating her enough about royal protocol.

He does come off as a bit naive in that regard.

He mentions a lot that she didn't google him or them. I think he's trying to say that she is interested in him for himself, which is of course great. But it also makes me feel like they were both a bit in denial about how royal protocol, the press etc would affect her specifically and them as a couple.
posted by plonkee at 2:59 AM on January 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

Thanks for that huge effort, Jen. It almost makes me hate to ask this, but I will anyways: is there any mention of Jessica and Ben Mulroney?
posted by sardonyx at 9:44 AM on January 15, 2023

posted by jenfullmoon at 12:31 PM on January 15, 2023

LOL! Of course not!

I can't put my finger on it now, but the story that usually gets relayed (or hinted at with a wink) by entertainment reporters in these parts is that Jessica (wife of a former PM's son) was the person who introduced Meghan and Harry to each other. These days, it sounds like some baby baroness is the one who did that and Jess only gets credit for pulling Meghan higher up the social-climbing ladder.

It does seem evident Jessica and Meghan were good buddies at least until Jessica found herself in some hot water and tried to use Meghan as a shield, which apparently Meghan (and her supporters) didn't appreciate.

Jessica lost her high-profile job after the mess and while it wasn't said directly, Ben also seemed to have been given an strong incentive to leave his cushy high-profile job as well.

It seems people have noticed Jessica's absence in the book.

(Note: outside of today and me searching for links to share, I've never gone searching for news of Ben and Jess and Meghan. This stuff is just what I've picked up through osmosis by living in Canada and paying attention to current events.)
posted by sardonyx at 1:14 PM on January 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Also, I don’t know if Prince Phillip gave a shit about people razzing him?

I could see Phillip giving back even better than he got.

n-thing Thanks jenfullmoon!
posted by porpoise at 3:13 PM on January 15, 2023

These days, it sounds like some baby baroness is the one who did that

Yup, he says Violet in the book.
posted by Ruki at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2023

More appreciation, JenFullMoon! This was hugely fun to read. I enjoyed it so much, I wish it were twice or thrice as long!
posted by Violet Blue at 8:06 PM on January 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

Flagged as fantastic for all your hard work, jen.
posted by sardonyx at 8:33 PM on January 15, 2023 [6 favorites]

Something I hadn't thought about in detail until reading this: Diana's sisters offered Meghan the Spencer family tiara (which Diana wore in her wedding), presumably because they assumed the Queen would not offer one. And then the Queen finally did it, and obviously you can't turn down the Queen on that topic. Possibly the Queen/courtiers/whoever wanted to avoid comparisons to Diana in the same tiara on the day...hmmmmm.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:04 AM on January 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

Not just thanks for the hard work - these summaries are really well-written. You have summary skills. I'm impressed by your summary style!
posted by trig at 12:05 AM on January 17, 2023 [7 favorites]

"The relentless royal b.s. is its own twisted thing, but I wonder if he's been counseled for wartime PTSD."

I'm not quite done yet, but this whole memoir is basically a story of wildly untreated PTSD. He talks a lot about a "red mist" of rage descending, and how when it does, when he's an adolescent, he's a terrifying scrapper who doesn't think twice before taking on boys twice his size, and fighting like he means it, not like they're play-fighting.

I keep thinking of the line last week from Camilla that Harry had been "kidnapped by a cult of psychotherapy," which, honestly would be the best thing that could possibly happen to him.

The book is honestly better than it has a right to be. It's a legitimately interesting look into life in the BRF. It's well-framed PR. What does come across really clearly is the staggering, staggering cruelty of the tabloid press, especially when he was quite young. Some of these stories I vaguely recall, others I don't, but he was clearly very hurt being labeled "Prince Thicko." Being accused of cheating to graduate Eton. Things like that.

Some of the stories are really surreal -- the Spice Girls-and-Mandela trip is bananas in retrospect. It seems clear that Baby Spice and Posh Spice were both genuinely kind to him at a vulnerable time, and he remembers it. Chelsea Davy sounds very cool. (I'm going to assume that as a filthy rich person she is actually awful, but nobody burst my bubble.) He obviously really likes Kate when he meets her; she comes across as charming and warm. But this is also in the context of someone who finds Nazis funny; you never forget for a second that all of these people are awful.

Also, I was aware that British boys' boarding schools were weird, but oh my God so weird, that shampooing-the-12-year-olds story will live rent-free in my head for the rest of my life.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:49 AM on January 17, 2023 [8 favorites]

He goes after Rupert Murdoch with a directness and venom that we don't generally see from public figures, who are usually reticent about naming names when criticizing the press. He calls Murdoch evil, says his politics are "just to the right of the Taliban's" (in a section where he's talking a lot about the actual Taliban), and continues, "I couldn't think of a single human being in the 300,000-year history of the species who'd done more damage to our collective sense of reality."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:38 AM on January 17, 2023 [8 favorites]

Thanks, jenfullmoon for this write up. I've seen bits of this around socials, but obviously there's a lot of context to the various events. (Plus the reader commentary is great!)

"the obvious lie about being pre-married …
did more to totally blow up M&H's credibility than anything else….one of the worst instances of PR strategy I've seen in action in a long time"

It's testament to the overall excellence of their PR strategy that this kind of ridiculous nit-picking is all they've left their (inevitable, un-convincible, bad-faith) detractors with. They were going to get shit regardless; it's very doubtful that they even thought that they'd win over any of those clinging to the Wicked Megan narrative. To have a private ceremony you consider your "real" wedding rather than the pageantry demanded by your family is an extremely normal and relatable experience. When your haters react to your normal human experience by clutching their pearls and yelling "Lies!" it's you who has won that PR battle.

"Harry did Meghan a disservice by not educating her enough about royal protocol"

Sure, but that's the problem when you're stuck in this kind of incredibly toxic situation, it becomes difficult to even notice the depth to which it is Fucked Up. Protocol really isn't even the word for it--it's not just a matter of Megan not knowing which fork to use or whatever. That kind of thing is tangible and learnable; it's everything else, all the secret favor-trading, politicking, power plays over who get to be the "good" one and who's the black sheep who can be thrown to the press wolves. There's really no way for someone still enmeshed in that system to sufficiently warn an outsider about it; one way that toxic systems maintain themselves is by not letting the people trapped inside understand how toxic it is.

It's been very interesting to watch (not here, just generally) so many people (both monarchist and not) rush to chastise Harry for having the audacity to talk honestly about his personal experiences. Its hard for me to imagine that people can so genuinely value a show of respectability over anything else.
posted by radiogreentea at 10:47 AM on January 17, 2023 [12 favorites]

The firm seems to have found its angles and mouthpieces:
Queen Elizabeth II ‘Probably Would’ve Taken Some Action’ Against Prince Harry After ‘Spare’ Memoir, Expert Claims (US Mag via Yahoo link, Jan. 16) "[Queen Elizabeth] certainly is the person who began all of this the minute she would not allow a part-time royal situation. She could have; she could have made all the accommodations for the Sussexes that they wanted. She chose not to do that. Because you're either all the way in or you're out," [Christopher Andersen, author of The King: The Life of King Charles III, noted. "She had, apparently, no qualms about taking away his military ranks, his ceremonial ranks, which was really a devastating blow to him."

The Royal Family Is Reportedly Holding Peace Talks with Prince Harry Before King Charles’ Coronation (InStyle via Yahoo link, Jan. 17) The king’s coronation is three-and-half months away, and coincidentally falls on Harry and Meghan’s son, Archie’s fourth birthday. While it’s set for May 6 at Westminster Abbey, a source speaking to the outlet shared that if they don’t invite them [Prince Harry and his wife Meghan] before the coronation, “it will become such a circus and distraction.”
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:44 AM on January 17, 2023

"[Queen Elizabeth] certainly is the person who began all of this the minute she would not allow a part-time royal situation."

It is interesting that Harry is very keen to protect Elizabeth from criticism. While she had previously tried to allow her family members a way to do what they really want to do if she could, the limit was always what she perceived as her duty to the Crown. It's true that she might have been reluctantly persuaded into a decision about what Harry and Meghan could do, but I've always thought it more likely that she was as much in agreement as Charles.
posted by plonkee at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2023

I think Harry's implied that others (Charles; staffers Bee, Fly & Wasp) had undue influence in her final years.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2023 [3 favorites]

Harry writes in the book: “I’d spent my life dealing with courtiers, scores of them. But now I dealt mostly with just three, all middle-aged white men who’d managed to consolidate power through a series of bold Machiavellian manoeuvres. They had normal names... but they sort more easily into zoological categories. The Bee, The Fly and the Wasp."
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:26 PM on January 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

So, I've finished it, and I'm sort-of surprised by how little he went after anyone but the press. It is first and foremost a memoir, his story of his own experiences, of growing up, of PTSD. It's thoughtful and reflective. It has a distinct (and sometimes annoying) voice. How much of that is him and how much the ghostwriter, I can't say, but it has a voice.

I remember a criticism of the Sussexes when they first moved to the US, that they had become "California wellness bores," and that was the one part of it I rolled my eyes at -- Meghan with her homeopathic remedies, Harry with the spiritual medium. But like, whatever, these two have been through hell and Harry in particular was given basically zero tools to cope with repeated traumas, if a medium makes you feel better, you do you.

Harry spoke very little about other members of the royal family -- outside the Queen, Charles, Camilla, Will, and Kate, he glancingly mentions Fergie, Eugenie, and (in passing) Andrew. Phillip barely appears. Camilla really only appears a few times (all of which have been thoroughly reported in the press). He mentions very few palace aides, other than ones who had a direct hand in his upbringing or were particularly close to him. You almost -- not quite, but almost -- have to already know the stories of Charles planting stories against his sons to pick that up from the text, and Harry is pretty careful to have plausible deniability that it might have been Camilla or an overeager aide. Charles shortcomings in the memoir are struggling to understand and support his son, and remaining quiet in the face of the press's abuse, and that's basically it. It's actually a pretty flattering portrait of Charles.

William comes in for some more direct shots -- angry, competitive, self-important. In the last section of the book, the picture of Kate isn't so flattering -- but all of that is when he feels Meghan is being unfairly attacked by Kate.

The "celebrity memoir" comparison that kept jumping to mind was Justin Trudeau's autobiography published in advance of his PM run, "Common Ground." Probably because Trudeau had some similar work to do -- contextualizing his famous parents' famously failed marriage, his mother's mental illness, and his own trauma resulting from the death of his brother; putting his "youthful mistakes" (growing up important and wealthy and kinda heedless and bro-y) into a reflective context; and reframing his life to explain how he'd come to a place where he was taking on a different public role than in the past. I expect Trudeau's was written faster (campaign demands), but Harry's is much more carefully framed, and it feels more honest, and more sincerely reflective about past mistakes. I found it fairly persuasive in explaining their choices and decisions.

Anyway, less tea than I expected, most of it already spilled in the press. Also, good lord does this guy love Apache helicopters. There's a whole section that's basically a love letter to Apache helicopters.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:09 PM on January 17, 2023 [16 favorites]

I think Harry's implied that others (Charles; staffers Bee, Fly & Wasp) had undue influence in her final years.

I agree that's Harry's view, and I agree that Charles became more influential at the end of her reign. I just think Harry is very invested in the idea that she was on his side, and I am not sure that stacks up so definitively. Elizabeth's fundamental objective has always been preservation of the monarchy first, and only then, looking after family members. I don't think she's ever put family ahead of the monarchy. And in any case, Charles and William are family as much as Harry is.
posted by plonkee at 4:39 AM on January 18, 2023 [2 favorites]

You almost -- not quite, but almost -- have to already know the stories of Charles planting stories against his sons to pick that up from the text, and Harry is pretty careful to have plausible deniability that it might have been Camilla or an overeager aide.

I assumed that was because for any given example, he genuinely didn't know for sure. And it is reasonably likely that in some cases someone "let it be known" that they were "not averse to a story appearing in the press". Tacit approval rather than explicit direction.

Also, while it's unlikely to end up in an English libel court regardless of the truth, but if it did, you'd need a significant paper trail to back up an accusation against an individual. (As witnessed in the Wagatha Christie case).

I'm sort-of surprised by how little he went after anyone but the press.

He blames the press for the way his family is. I think this is a simplification of a more complex set of events and issues. But I can see why he thinks of it that way. And if nothing else, it comes across very strongly that he loves his father, and has a complicated and often intense relationship with his older brother, who he perhaps envies and loves. He only throws them under a bus to the extent that they would all throw each other under a bus.
posted by plonkee at 4:54 AM on January 18, 2023 [3 favorites]

I remember a criticism of the Sussexes when they first moved to the US, that they had become "California wellness bores," and that was the one part of it I rolled my eyes at -- Meghan with her homeopathic remedies, Harry with the spiritual medium.

Harry says that the remedy Meghan suggested to William was a “homeopathic cure-all,” but I suspect that this might be bad editing, and that Harry’s confusing herbal supplements/essential oils with homeopathy in this case. I think he mentions homeopathic remedies another time in the book—maybe in relation to Charles?—and that reference might be correct. But as I understand things, it was some kind of oregano oil & turmeric product, which doesn’t sound like a typical homeopathic remedy, and in fact is more likely to be an herbal supplement that could genuinely have anti-inflammatory &/or antiviral/antibacterial properties.

I imagine that lots of people think “homeopathic” is synonymous with any and all hippie health food store medicinals, and the colloquial definitions are likely to vary from country to country. This stuff doesn't sound like a "cure-all" for the common cold to me, but rather a relatively benign yet legitimate possible source of symptom relief. Whatever the case, Kate comes across as being needlessly rude, I'm guessing in part because she knew her Suits-watching husband had a TV crush on Meghan well before they ever met. (Meghan's undeniable beauty does her no favors in this family dynamic—or indeed this whole situation—cf. Jeremy Clarkson, Piers Morgan, &c.)

I’d also like to think that a couple that advocates for vaccine equity would not be into homeopathy, but Meghan seems to be a true “California Girl” in this book as well as in interviews ... and oh yeah, the spiritualist part! That was interesting. Harry does drugs and talks to the moon, etc., so he might actually be the more credulous magical thinker of the two. Either way, there’s evidence throughout the book of not just just a variety of culture barriers, but also a language barrier—not just between H&M, but in the wider discourse on the royals as well.
posted by obloquy at 12:42 PM on January 18, 2023 [2 favorites]

Meghan's undeniable beauty does her no favors in this family dynamic—or indeed this whole situation—cf. Jeremy Clarkson, Piers Morgan, &c.

Basically the British equivalent of the American conservatives with their hater-boners for AOC.
posted by praemunire at 2:03 PM on January 18, 2023 [2 favorites]

Thank you jenfullmoon.
posted by infini at 2:49 PM on January 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

It's a very good point that he has "travel to another continent semi-frequently" money but not like, clothes-and-furniture money. I guess he might prioritize travel over that stuff in his spending choices and stays with friends, but I prioritize stuff like clothes because Big Travel Money is so dang much.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:15 PM on May 12, 2023

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