Perhaps Harry Windsor can be forgiven for being a little clueless. His life was traumatic – he was only 12 when his mother died – sheltered and stuffy. But it was also comfortable, privileged, and surrounded by an unimaginable amount of undeserved wealth and importance. It is therefore understandable that he wanted to strike out alone with Meghan Markle in America. With Spare, his memoir coming hot on the heels of Harry and Meghan on Netflix, it’s clear his estrangement from the world’s most famous joint family is incomplete. He’s still “Prince” Harry.
“Substitute” refers to the old adage – “heir and substitute” – with the latter referring to the second son in a noble or royal family. From PG Wodehouse’s fictional Galahad Threepwood to Prince Philippe of France (in the 17th century), younger sons of famous families have managed to make their mark. In fact, Harry’s joining the army is part of a long tradition where royals who were not allowed to inherit were generals. Another common career choice was to “take the cloth” and join the clergy. Harry, after making a song and dance about his family’s lack of ‘awakening’ – their entire symbolic purpose is to preserve a ossified and outdated class structure – still seems bound and defined by them. And he still needs them.
In Spare, Harry once again exposed the conflicts within the British royal family with less entertainment value than the Kardashians. However, the family at home is still very British and maintains a studied silence. The one-sided attacks, and more importantly, the complete blindness to his privilege, make Harry look a little less sympathetic with each media attack. Loneliness, the loss of a parent, substance abuse, depression – these issues can strike anyone. But it takes a royal reality star to monetize them.