The Prince’s damp squib

Cannons in the Tower of London. Source: Pixabay, Photo: VIVIANE M.

London, VK (Weltexpress). Inevitably, one is reminded of the Chaplin film about the First World War with that famous scene when from a huge cannon a projectile popped out, ridiculously harmless instead of buzzing off towards Paris. Prince Harry’s eagerly awaited autobiography “Spare” has turned out to be a barrel burst, not the nuclear explosive that would have pulverized the British monarchy or at least prevented the coronation of Harry’s father, Charles III, on 6 May. Some were secretly hoping for sensational revelations – above all, proof provided by Harry that his beloved mother, Princess Diana, fell victim not to a traffic accident but to an assassination attempt directed by dark forces in Buckingham Palace or by the secret service MI5 on 31 August 1997.

Nothing of the sort. A flop, a damp squib – and already clear when “Spare” (glitch or commercial manipulation?) suddenly appeared in Spanish bookshops five days before the official publication date, which was supposed to have the strictest discretion of a state secret, and hastily prepared translations reached the public in dribs and drabs. Although the sensation obviously failed to materialize, Harry remained on the front pages of all British newspapers for days – until the free metro newspaper “Metro” ran a bold headline on Tuesday, the official publication date: “Britain Haz Had enough” (Britain is fed up – close friends call Harry “Haz”). It is probably no coincidence that the 407-page work with the attractive photo of the red-bearded prince on the cover was offered for sale at half price in the bookshop at Gatwick Airport on the day of publication: The work reads well, especially the vivid description of the Scottish royal castle Balmoral and the moving account of the night when Prince Charles broke the news of the death of “Mummy” to his son. But explosives? That the heir to the throne William and especially “stepmother” Camilla would come off badly was to be expected. For the rest, the work of a „kept in reserve” („Spare“) dripping with uninhibited self-love and self-pity, clearly lacks explosive power.

In North America alone, where romantic notions about the English and their monarchy are rampant, 2.5 million copies were printed and it topped the bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time, the popularity of the prince and his wife Meghan plunged into the nadir, especially among older, conservative-minded Britons: two-thirds of Britons have a negative opinion of Harry. And his report that as a soldier in Afghanistan he had shot 25 opponents “like chess pieces” triggered unanimous indignation.


The above contribution by Dr. Charles E. Ritterband was rendered into English by Christoph Merten.

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