By: Nadia Liu
Public Relations Manager
On its first day of publication, Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, sold over 1.43 million copies in the US, UK, and Canada, breaking the record for the fastest-selling nonfiction book of all time. That figure far surpasses other memoir bestsellers, such as those of Barack and Michelle Obama, which on their first days sold 887,000 copies and 725,000 copies respectively. The prince’s memoir also debuted at No. 1 on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s nonfiction bestseller lists.
In his memoir, Harry details his tumultuous life in the royal family, including the backlash his and Meghan Markle’s relationship brought about; conflicts with his father, King Charles, stepmother, Queen Consort Camilla, and brother, Prince William; as well as his struggles with grief after the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
The morning after Diana’s fatal car crash, Harry’s father woke him up to tell him the tragic news: “He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances, how could he be expected to show them in such a crisis? But his hand did fall once more on my knee and he said: ‘It’s going to be OK.’” Candid and authentic, the memoir follows Harry through his worst mistakes and best decisions, reclaiming the story of his life from the media.
According to The New York Times, Harry decided to write his memoir when he attended his grandfather, Prince Philip’s, funeral. After realizing that neither his father nor his brother understood why he and Meghan had moved to California, he wanted to own his side of the story.
The Prince’s high-profile interviews and several scandalous leaked excerpts fueled the highly-anticipated release. Among the bombshells making headlines are Prince Harry’s experiments with psychedelics to cope with his grief and his and William’s objection to their father’s second marriage. Prince Harry also revealed that he killed 25 people in Afghanistan during his military career in the British armed forces, writing, “While in the heat of combat, I didn’t think of those 25 as people. You can’t kill people if you think of them as people. On some level I recognized this learned detachment as problematic. But I also saw it as an unavoidable part of soldiering.” Additionally, the prince claims that William physically assaulted him during an argument about Meghan: “[William] grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor. I landed on the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me.”
Reviews of Spare have been overwhelmingly mixed; The Guardian called it “ compassion-inducing, frustrating, oddly compelling and absurd,” while the BBC labeled it as “the weirdest book ever written by a royal,” and The Independent praised it as “richly detailed and at times beautifully written.” Acclaimed author J. R. Moehringer, who also assisted tennis star Andre Agassi with his renowned memoir Open, ghost wrote the memoir. While it’s too soon to say whether the book’s success will continue after the media storm dies down, its record-breaking initial sales and massive media coverage cement Spare as a memoir for the ages.
(Sources: The Guardian, The BBC, The Independent, NPR, NY Times)