The Biggest Takeaway from Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ Interviews, According to Our Royal Expert

prince harry michael strahan mobile

ITV, CBS, GMA…(and please excuse the use of another acronym): ICYMI, Prince Harry is on the interview circuit for his tell-all memoir Spare, out today, and the royal revelations keep coming. And while I haven't had a chance to read the book in full—I’m currently speeding through the audio version (read by the Prince himself) as I type—I have seen every interview the Duke of Sussex has sat for so far. Yes, that includes his 90-minute Tom Bradby sitdown only available in the U.K. (or stateside with the use of a VPN—thank you, technology!). My conclusion, as a royal watcher and cohost of the Royally Obsessed podcast? Prince Harry is at war—not with the Windsors, but with the writers of Fleet Street, aka the British tabloid media. 

You might be thinking to yourself: Yawn. We’ve heard this saga before.” From the Oprah interview to the Netflix docuseries, it’s obvious the Sussexes have a major bone to pick with the British press. But I’m here to tell you that every problem, every hurdle, every obstacle Harry has ever faced, in his mind, all stems from the same villain. My biggest takeaway? His insistence in repeatedly laying the blame on them continues to feed the beast he so vehemently opposes. 

prince harry diana
Tim Graham/Getty Images

It’s understandable that the Prince lays blame for his mother’s death (and his and William’s lifelong trauma) at the feet of the paparazzi who hounded her. When interviewer Anderson Cooper asks the Prince what he was looking for when he requested to see Diana’s top-secret death report, Harry replies: “Mainly proof. Proof that she was in the car. Proof that she was injured. And proof that the very paparazzi that chased her into the tunnel were the ones that were taking photographs—photographs of her lying half dead on the back seat of the car.”

It would seem the press are also to blame for his grievances with Queen Consort Camilla. His issue is not personally with his father’s wife, whom he says he has “a huge compassion for,” who makes his “Pa,” aka King Charles, very happy. His issue is that Camilla, in rehabilitating her own image in the U.K. after Charles’s divorce, sacrificed Harry “on her personal PR altar,” he writes in the book. Speaking with Michael Strahan for Good Morning America, Harry says he hasn’t heard from his stepmother in quite some time, but that they are “perfectly pleasant with each other” when he sees her. “She's my stepmother. I don't look at her as an evil stepmother. I see someone who married into this institution, and done everything she can to improve her own reputation and her own image, for her own sake."

prince harry camilla
Max Mumby/Getty Images

Even Meghan’s comments to Oprah in March 2021, that a senior member of the royal family had questions about the color of Archie’s skin before he was born, are twisted by the media, says Harry to a confused Tom Bradby. Harry rolls out this carefully crafted explanation: Meghan never said the royal member was racist, but the media labeled them as such. He believes that the “concerns” were instead coming from a place of “unconscious bias.”

There’s also the media to blame for the breakdown of the relationship with his brother, with his father, for Meghan’s miscarriage (according to the docuseries), for his troubled youth. And to be fair, Harry’s right in some cases. The tabloid media, even after being cut off by the couple in November 2020 via a strongly worded statement, are directly to blame for printing the vile Sun column by Jeremy Clarkson, for the misogynistic term “Megxit,” for leaking Harry’s location during his time in Afghanistan, for leaking his plans to step back from the royal family (again, The Sun), for invading his privacy…the list is endless.

prince harry oprah

The complicating factor here? Harry’s finger-pointing at the unholy marriage of the media and the institution continues to feed the fire. He even says so himself. “I fully accept that writing a book is feeding the beast anyway,” he tells Strahan. The more headlines Harry generates for the tabloids, the more clicks and subscribers (and ad revenue), the more royal family fodder the papers give the public. It’s a vicious cycle, and one I’m sure the Duke is frustrated to continuously play a part in. 

I’m not the first to point out that the Daily Mail unironically devoted 17 pages of its paper on Friday to Prince Harry’s book revelations, with the headline, ‘Oh, Spare Us!’ Or that when he and Meghan laid low for the past two years, quietly working on the projects they were contractually obligated to produce, the tabloids sent drones, helicopters and paparazzi in droves to the kingdom of Montecito. Were the papers asking Harry to shut up then?

prince harry front pages
Sky News/Twitter

No, I don't blame him for taking control back. But I do wish he took a beat to consider the alternative: the absence of a microscope under which we place those in the public eye. The media aren’t blameless, but they are our only check on power. Yes, he has revealed that the Palace is complicit in a dirty game of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” with certain tabloids. Also, that many (many) times, the Palace finds itself curiously immune to public scrutiny. (*Cough*, Prince Andrew.) But without the media, we lose the “unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize,” a quote from Harry’s grandmother’s first prime minister, Winston Churchill. 

Now, I’m not defending certain publications whose breathless and radicalizing coverage only proves Harry right. But I do take issue with what I see as irresponsibly broad swipes taken at “the British media” from the Prince. Does he expect the average news consumer to realize his attack is leveled at The Mail versus The Times? At The Express over The Telegraph? Does he count Metro in his most-wanted? The Guardian

To be sure, there are excellent journalists at every British paper I’ve just named. I hope he at least praises what he considers the reputable sections of the media somewhere in his book, or gives examples of when fair scrutiny does aptly apply (he dodged the question by Bradby, when asked whether his drug use fell under the “public interest” debate).

But Harry is at least doing something about the media that his family hasn’t. While his story continues to make headlines in the tabloids, he’s not afraid of taking accountability himself. As Emily Maitlis, the journalist responsible for Prince Andrew’s disastrous Newsnight interview, told CNN: “Yes, [Prince Harry’s] been talking to the media, and there’s a lot of people who will say ‘That’s pretty hypocritical, you’re talking to the media, you’re writing books, you’re doing a docuseries’... But he’s accountable, his name is on the book, and his face is on the documentary, and I think that’s the difference he’s trying to make. He’s stood there and said, I'm not doing this in briefings. I'm not doing this in darkly lit rooms. I’m not taking media editors out to try to push my PR a little bit higher. I'm standing before you, emotionally stark-naked.”

So until the royal family take accountability themselves, Harry’s own account, and unnamed sources via the tabloids, are all we have to go by. It’s ‘to be determined’ whether his relentless attacks on the press will change any of that.

For more about the royals and their tours, listen to the Royally Obsessed podcast with co-hosts Rachel Bowie and Roberta Fiorito. Subscribe now or follow us on Instagram @royallyobsessedpodcast.


Director, Branded Content + Cohost, Royally Obsessed Podcast

As Director of Branded Content at Gallery Media Group, Roberta helps oversee the ideation and execution of sponsored content and experiential campaigns across PureWow and ONE37pm...