‘The monarchy’s a laughing stock’: readers react to Prince Harry’s Spare – The Guardian

Views range from sympathy for the Sussexes in light of treatment by royals and tabloids, to regarding them as being ‘as entitled as the others’
Prince Harry’s tell-all autobiography has become the UK’s fastest-selling nonfiction book ever. The memoir has been controversial, with Harry making claims that Prince William physically attacked him and accusing his father of putting his own interests first.
The Guardian asked readers – some of whom had already begun reading the book – for their views on the memoir and the publicity around it. Many said their views on the royal family had been changed, while others said it strengthened existing positions. Other readers also made the point that the book was more balanced than had been presented by parts of the media.
Here, eight readers discuss how Spare has changed their opinions on the family rift – as well as the future of the royals as an institution.
I was brought up a royalist and really just accepted their role without much question. I viewed the late queen respectfully and admired what I saw as her sense of duty and public service.
However, I do now sympathise much more with Harry and consider the treatment of him and Meghan by much of the press to be reprehensible and negatively biased. I found the comments by Jeremy Clarkson absolutely repugnant – I complained to Ipso.
I thought that [Harry and Meghan’s] relationship might herald in a changing of times. I am now really leaning to a view that a hereditary monarchy is out of touch and stands for inequality of opportunity in our country. Jane Popplewell, 60, east Yorkshire, works in adult social care
My view of the royal family was negative before – I don’t think the UK should be a monarchy. Before the recent publicity I was sympathetic to Harry and Meghan but now I am less so as I think he shows the same level of entitlement as the other Windsors. His remarks about Africa are patronising, and I don’t think the taxpayer should pay for his security while he is living in the US.
I feel sorry for Meghan and even Camilla, I think they get unfairly blamed for breaking up the family. Maybe because they are women and “outsiders”. The monarchy is becoming a laughing stock and I don’t see how it contributes to a positive image of the UK. Rachael, 34, Oxford, copywriter
The revelations in Harry’s book have humanised the royal family, demonstrating that even those amongst the highest realms of society are affected by family drama and mental health challenges.
I viewed them as perfect and prestigious before, but now that I think about it, they’re just a family with ordinary problems. We benefit by seeing a more realistic portrayal.
I’ve read most of the book – I think this is the first time William has had a stain on his reputation, but we haven’t heard his perspective. I fear that Prince Harry and Meghan’s mental health will only deteriorate further. They claim they don’t want media attention, but this memoir will only serve them to be subject to public scrutiny for years to come. Habib Syed, 22, London, student
I am a monarchist – I’d rather maintain the hereditary system with a royal figurehead than go down the route of republicanism. I preordered the book when a publishing date was announced and began reading in the early hours of 10 January whilst on work breaks.
Despite the press hysteria, his father, King Charles, and wider family actually come across in far better terms via this narrative than you might get in the media generally. [Its focus has been] on the sensationalist “conflict” between the brothers, said to have been brought about by Harry’s “resentment” against being the “spare” younger sibling [despite] 411 pages containing anecdotes of his overall life. I think what has also been missing from much of the media is that the book sales are in support of charity. David, 51, Hereford, industrial cleaner
I had no view of the royal family before. The news I’ve heard about Spare (I have not read it myself) seems to have confirmed what in retrospect should be obvious: telling a specific family that they were chosen by God to rule over the rest of us is completely insane. It is madness to me that the royal family is as popular as it is among the English public.
I was neutral on the issue of republicanism before, but now it’s quite clear: the royal family has got to go. Anyone defending this disaster status quo between the tabloids and the royals is looking increasingly delusional and out of touch. Pratik Samant, 29, Oxford, NHS radiotherapy physicist
I used to be a staunch royalist, loved Diana and the queen, but since seeing Harry and Meghan’s Netflix series and also following the death of our beloved queen, I no longer support them. I found Meghan’s mother really engaging and believable – she made it quite obvious what Meghan has gone through. Also, seeing media stories compared side by side with Kate.
I’m sad for Harry, he seems to be quite lost in the past and still carrying such anger. I’m partway through his book and sadly it does feel like he’s revealed far too many personal issues and I find it hard to defend him any more. There is no way back for him now. I only hope he can enjoy his life in America. Francesca, 56, Hampshire, project administrator
I’ve long been in favour of abolishing the monarchy. There are many reasons why this would be a good idea, but the one that has come to the fore recently is how much damage has been done to the members of the Windsor family.
What sometimes appears to be a privileged existence for members of the royal family comes only at the cost of their mental health. Three of the marriages of the queen’s four children have broken up. The minute details of the lives of the royal family are under constant scrutiny and it is very difficult for members of the royal family to express their own feelings.
They’re trapped – they’re under the cosh from those who want a monarchy but don’t care about the people, I consider it to be like an abusive relationship. Peter Gray, 62, Chesterfield, retired
I don’t think I ever looked at the royal family as a family, more a collection of characters. But what you’re looking at is a family and this stuff goes on all the time. Having two boys myself, I know that the dynamic of a hierarchy is very common. The second son often feels aggrieved that they didn’t get the attention that the first one got.
I was never a royalist but I was a Meghan fan from watching her in Suits. I really don’t know how she has coped with the constant barrage of negativity, falsehoods and vitriol.
The recent publicity has changed my view of Camilla – she seemed like a decent person, but when she had that lunch with Piers Morgan – that was such a slap in the face. That for me was when I thought, ‘I don’t trust them’. Pauline Killen, 55, Belfast, IT project manager


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