Full disclosure: I only picked up the book to fuel my irritation. I was not a Harry and Megan fan before beginning the work. In fact, I disliked them. I had a whole Ted talk about why I did not like them. I also acknowledge my opinions of them makes no difference because they are absolute strangers. But, whatever, I am only HUMAN!
Instead of nurturing my irritation, I instead discovered the source of it: Harry is sort of boring for a Prince!
Now, his stories are not boring. His stories are interesting and he's lived such an extraordinary life so far. But as I read I find he seems to exist so much in his own head that I feel like he wouldn't be telling his crazy stories at a dinner party to an audience hanging on every word. He be listening to everyone else and dreaming of going back to fly a military helicopter or something.
Anyway, I've developed quite a soft spot for the spare Prince. The book begins when his mother tragically dies. Harry was 12. I keep thinking about my own son--just 10--and how much pain he would be in if he lost either Mike or me.
Harry does the traumatic funeral things and then off to boarding school he goes. No one ever seemed to guide him in his grief or even hold him while he mourns. It was like "Your mother is dead; but it's back to school! Let's get on with it!" All very stiff upper lip and all. To Harry, it seems, his mother remains revered and sainted in his mind.
I know from experience how easy it is to saint a ghost. They don't live long enough to betray you, so as long as they died on good terms, they are forever, nearly perfect.
Then there is war and more grieving alone and sometimes talking with his brother about his mother very briefly. And he loses a childhood best friend in a deadly accident. And there are the horrible, traumatic stories of being hunted by the "paps." I thought I had an understanding of the paparazzi's harassment; but the reality is worse than I imagined. Bribing police officers and putting trackers on their vehicles and harassing families of Harry's love interests only scratch the surface of it all.
I really truly feel compassion for the abnormality of his life from the beginning. I don't even know if he fully understands or ever could understand what a normal life could look like.
Some other early notes:
- Harry speaks of his family with love, honesty and tenderness. I don't find him to be hateful or spiteful in anyway. I am only up to his 30th birthday and I know things perhaps changed. But, I think if there was a change from to spite or hate that would be reflected in the tone of the entire book and it simply is not.
- It is fascinating to read his story with a backdrop of the greater world news happening. He does a marvelous job of providing context to the events in his life as compared to the events of the world.
- He also shares the real story behind the tabloid stories. And the real story--well it is not sugar coated or perfect. He was, at times, just a teenager or just a 20 something.
- On a funny note, he does mention Friends and being a "Chandler" on one of the pages. Which made me laugh because the last male celebrity memoir I read was, of course, Matthew Perry. And let me tell you Prince Harry: YOU ARE NO MATTHEW PERRY! You are literate, appear to have a solid moral compass and live in reality (albeit an alternate one that is really no fault of your own).
- He does discuss his penis a few times. I don't even really know what to say. But, maybe this is a male memoir thing? I have no idea because I don't have a penis to discuss!