Wild claim about Harry and the Queen

Call it part of royal irony no. 33: that two of the most devastating books on the Windsor family ever published were written by two members of the family of least intellectual repute.

Diana, the Princess of Wales who self-deprecatingly called herself “thick as a board”, was the deep throat behind Andrew Morton’s 1992 jam dropper, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, the man who got a B in art and a D in geography at the last school exams, I would continue to write flamboyant Spare.

Now, a veteran royal biographer has made some pretty outlandish claims about Harry authoring said literary IED, claiming the Duke was “taking notes” for the title after his grandmother, the late Queen, died.

Robert Hardman is the author of Charles III: New King, New Court, The Inside Story, which details the events of September 8, when the UK’s longest-reigning monarch was given her just reward.

Speaking at the Hay Literary Festival a few days ago, Hardman told the audience, according to the Independent: “Harry didn’t say it, it’s the fact that he said it, and he gave away so many secrets. And he was actually taking notes at the time of the queen’s death.”

“Taking notes”? Recording scratch.

While the image that might immediately come to mind is a duke scribbling furiously on a well-used spiral notebook while crouching behind a potted fern, I think Hardman is actually saying that the final draft Spare at that moment there was no need to submit.

The Duke and his ghostwriter, JR Moehringer, began work on the book unbeknownst to the world in the northern summer of 2020, with Penguin Random House (PRH) waiting a full year, until July 2021, to reveal their literary coup de grace and that Harry was going through his memories.

(Remember that Penguin promised that the book would be “intimate and honest” and you can’t get more “intimate” than the parts that talk about how he lost his virginity in a field or ended up with a frosty “mullet” “or more” honestly” as the inclusion of various family members, such as the revelation that Kate, the Princess of Wales, is not one to share lip gloss.)

Anyway, a year after that, in the northern summer of 2022, Operation: The Book was still on hold, with no release date set. In early September, Harry and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, packed away their travel crystals and flew to the UK for a series of charity events.

On the morning of September 8, Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying “the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health”. The 96-year-old would die peacefully at 3:10 p.m.

So the ingredients for a real mess were ready: Sussex in the UK, nerves were short (Harry writes in Spare about the dispute with his father about whether Meghan was allowed to go to Scotland), and the Duke’s handwriting was lying on his battered Macbook.

When Spare was released four months later, much of the attention was focused on Harry’s claims that William had assaulted him and that the Prince and Princess of Wales had encouraged him to dress up as a Nazi.

But Hardman is right. What has been largely overlooked is that the Duke of Sussex wrote of entering his grandmother’s bedroom and seeing her corpse: “I got ready, went in. The room was dimly lit, unfamiliar – I had only been in it once in my life. I uncertainly walked forward and there she was. I stood, frozen, staring. I looked and looked… I whispered to her that I hope she is happy, that I hope she is with her grandfather.”

I guess you can’t get more “intimate” than that.

Come to think of it, it’s rather odd that Harry saw fit to return to his keyboard in the weeks or months following Queen Elizabeth’s funeral to more specifically find himself in the same room as his recently deceased grandmother. (Well, or his publisher told him to go back to work to add it.)

But then the Sussexes’ Netflix share of the TV series revealed that they took a photographer inside Buckingham Palace in 2020 without permission.

Needs, I mean, and content must.

The implications of all this for Harry, the repeated violation of the sanctum sanctorum of royal life, are still very much a matter of life.

The spare part might end up being sold as a token, but at what exact price? His announcement, and the Duke’s willingness to write about a host of private moments involving not just his father and brother, but Queen Camilla and Kate, is expected to deal a devastating blow to any chance of mending fences.

As Hardman told the Hay Festival audience: “The problem that exists is that there is still an issue of trust at the moment. People are still very hurt, especially Prince William, because all those intimate private childhood family moments were spilled in Harry’s book.’

Those are sentiments echoed by William and Kate’s relatives in a conversation with Tom Sykes of the Daily Beast. One previously told Sykes that the Welsh prince “absolutely bloody hates” his problems.

Elsewhere, a friend of the Waleses told Sykes: “William will never trust Harry again. How could he?… [William] I will never forgive him for the damage he has caused to the family.”

The $30 million question here is how much Harry is expected to be paid by Penguin Random House, are there other memoirs in the works?

Hardman told Hay-goers that the brevity of some of the chapters in Harry’s life suggest that “part two may be on the way.”

So buckle up, kids. It might hit the bestseller lists for 2025, Save 2: Save still.

Daniela Elser is a writer, editor and royal commentator with over 15 years’ experience working with many of Australia’s leading media outlets.

Read related topics:Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II

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