When Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, released his autobiography "Spare," jaws from all around the world dropped as readers consumed an immense amount of information about his royal life. Harry revealed a variety of details, including but not limited to losing his beloved mother, the trauma that came from not being the firstborn, losing his virginity and even his affinity for the American sitcom "Friends."
The book comes at an interesting time in terms of the British social and political climate. With Elizabeth II, former Queen of the United Kingdom, passing away last September after her historical reign of 70 years and 214 days, Charles III is now the king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and 14 other Commonwealth realms. Furthermore, there is now a queen consort with Charles's second wife, Camilla, filling this position.
With Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, having stepped back as senior royals in January 2020, the book's release was anticipated to get an unfiltered version of Harry's perspective. Although this was a big step in terms of the formality of royal family members, the couple tried to make it clear they still had active roles as royals.
"We were stepping back, not stepping down, but just to have a reduced role," Markle had said at the time.
In March 2021, after the announcement of Markle being pregnant with their second child, the pair sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an interview. This interview was monumental because Markle expressed she had felt marginalized as a person of color, including hearing verbal ponderings about how dark their son's skin might be.
The book opens with Harry returning to the U.K. for the funeral of his grandfather, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. This is the moment when Harry allegedly decided to write the memoir, saying he realized his family did not truly understand why he and Markle had left. The book ends the prologue with a direct statement to his family as he is about to recount his side of the story.
"And so: Pa? Willy? World? Here you go," the book says.
The reception of his memoir has been interesting. For one, the publisher, Penguin Random House, said the book had secured the largest first-day sales total for any non-fiction book it had ever published. With more than 1.4 million copies sold in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, this statement is not shocking. However, Harry's YouGov rating has fallen drastically since the release of his book, demonstrating his falling popularity.
With such high sales in the U.S., it raises the question of why Americans seem to be so infatuated with the British royal family.
For Wybie Santiy, a freshman studying English creative writing, they think it's because Americans like to follow a person that is higher up in society.
"I guess it's just in the same way that we look at celebrities," they said. "They're just like upstanding, high-up citizens."
Reagan Goldberg, a senior studying restaurant, hotel and tourism, said she has a great interest in all things about the British royal family. Having started to read "Spare," she has some thoughts about how Harry went about telling his story.
"You're choosing to do this," Goldberg said. "You're choosing to hurt all these people and you're choosing to go about it in this negative and vindictive kind of way."
She also expressed how her opinion of Meghan has shifted, saying it first seemed like Meghan was the one encouraging the bad feelings between the two families. However, now Goldberg feels like both of the spouses are at equal fault.
"Because now it's like I view it as both of them, when at the time I viewed it more as Meghan," she said.
Goldberg also has speculations surrounding the validity of the couple's statement claiming they wanted to lead a more private life, away from the spotlight.
"They wanted to go and be quiet, but now they're adding fuel to fire," she said. "They're talking about it and doing all these things but you're telling us you want to step away. But then you're going to go around and keep putting stuff out there to keep yourself in the limelight? It's kind of a double standard."
Paige Klatt, a success advisor for the College of Health Sciences, has also begun to read the memoir and said she is enjoying it thus far.
"I definitely feel like it feels very honest and vulnerable, especially based off a lot of details he's trying to remember," Klatt said. "Whether you are a super fan, so to speak, or not, I think that's what's so intriguing about the story is because it feels very genuine with his vulnerability – it doesn't feel fake."
Another controversy that has been plaguing "The Spare" is a number of proven falsities included in the book. Although relatively minor, these cases include Harry claiming he received an Xbox gaming console from Princess Diana when it had yet to be invented and him saying Markle was dressed in a t-shirt for their first date when she said she wore a blue dress.
Klatt said she understands slip-ups and expressed his audience is tearing apart every detail in the book.
"I think it's easy for people to be looking for examples of things," Klatt said. "To be like, 'Oh, like this isn't true.' I mean, you try to recall things from your childhood that are like specific exact details. You're not gonna get everything right. Trauma's weird."
In terms of reconciliation, Goldberg remains hopeful, saying if Harry admitted he wrote the memoir out of anger, there could be a chance the House of Windsor could make up.
"I think everyone in the Royal Family definitely has their problems and definitely has bad points where they argue or they fight, but that's how family is," Goldberg said "You still love each other and you talk and you make up."