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Spare Excerpt

For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. A landmark publication, Spare is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.

We agreed to meet a few hours after the funeral. In the Frogmore gardens, by the old Gothic ruin. I got there first.

I looked around, saw no one.

I checked my phone. No texts, no voicemails.

They must be running late, I thought, leaning against the stone wall.

I put away my phone and told myself: Stay calm.

The weather was quintessentially April. Not quite winter, not yet spring. The trees were bare, but the air was soft. The sky was gray, but the tulips were popping. The light was pale, but the indigo lake, threading through the gardens, glowed.

How beautiful it all is, I thought. And also how sad.

Once upon a time, this was going to be my forever home. Instead it had proved to be just another brief stop.

When my wife and I fled this place, in fear for our sanity and physical safety, I wasn’t sure when I’d ever come back. That was January 2020. Now, fifteen months later, here I was, hours after waking to thirty-two missed calls and then one short, heart-racing talk with Granny: Harry . . . Grandpa’s gone.

The wind picked up, turned colder. I hunched my shoulders, rubbed my arms, regretted the thinness of my white shirt. I wished I’d not changed out of my funeral suit. I wished I’d thought to bring a coat. I turned my back to the wind and saw, looming behind me, the Gothic ruin, which in reality was no more Gothic than the Millennium Wheel. Some clever architect, some bit of stagecraft. Like so much around here, I thought.

I moved from the stone wall to a small wooden bench. Sitting, I checked my phone again, peered up and down the garden path.

Where are they?

Another gust of wind. Funny, it reminded me of Grandpa. His wintry demeanor, maybe. Or his icy sense of humor. I recalled one particular shooting weekend years ago. A mate, just trying to make conversation, asked Grandpa what he thought of my new beard, which had been causing concern in the family and controversy in the press. Should the Queen Force Prince Harry to Shave? Grandpa looked at my mate, looked at my chin, broke into a devilish grin.THAT’S no beard!

Everyone laughed. To beard or not to beard, that was the question, but leave it to Grandpa to demand more beard. Let grow the luxurious bristles of a bloody Viking!

I thought of Grandpa’s strong opinions, his many passions—carriage driving, barbecuing, shooting, food, beer. The way he embraced life. He had that in common with my mother. Maybe that was why he’d been such a fan. Long before she was Princess Diana, back when she was simply Diana Spencer, kindergarten teacher, secret girlfriend of Prince Charles, my grandfather was her loudest advocate. Some said he actually brokered my parents’ marriage. If so, an argument could be made that Grandpa was the Prime Cause in my world. But for him, I wouldn’t be here.

Neither would my older brother.

Then again, maybe our mother would be here. If she hadn’t married Pa . . .

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Spare by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex
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I recalled one recent chat, just me and Grandpa, not long after he’d turned ninety-seven. He was thinking about the end. He was no longer capable of pursuing his passions, he said. And yet the thing he missed most was work. Without work, he said, everything crumbles. He didn’t seem sad, just ready. You have to know when it’s time to go, Harry.

I glanced now into the distance, towards the mini skyline of crypts and monuments alongside Frogmore. The Royal Burial Ground. Final resting place for so many of us, including Queen Victoria. Also, the notorious Wallis Simpson. Also, her doubly notorious husband Edward, the former King and my great-great-uncle. After Edward gave up his throne for Wallis, after they fled Britain, both of them fretted about their ultimate return—both obsessed about being buried right here. The Queen, my grandmother, granted their plea. But she placed them at a distance from everyone else, beneath a stooped plane tree. One last finger wag, perhaps. One final exile, maybe. I wondered how Wallis and Edward felt now about all their fretting. Did any of it matter in the end? I wondered if they wondered at all. Were they floating in some airy realm, still mulling their choices, or were they Nowhere, thinking Nothing? Could there really be Nothing after this? Does consciousness, like time, have a stop? Or maybe, I thought, just maybe, they’re here right now, next to the fake Gothic ruin, or next to me, eavesdropping on my thoughts. And if so . . . maybe my mother is too?

Excerpted from Spare by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex. Copyright © 2023 by Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.