Prince Harry's much-awaited controversial tell-all memoir, Spare, in which he made allegations against senior members of the royal family, has already become a bestseller within a week of its release.
Breaking all sales records for non-fiction books, the memoir sold 1.43 million copies during its first day on sale in the UK, U.S., and Canada.
In weeks leading up to the release of his book, Prince Harry revealed in an interview how King Charles III considered him as a "spare" son—hence, the title of the book—since his elder brother Prince William would be the heir to the throne.
Moreover, the book lifts the lid on life as a royal that hasn't been done before—Prince Harry writes about his relationship with his father, the challenges of growing up in the public eye, and the readers bear witness to the love story between the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex.
According to Lecturer at the University of Toronto and a royal family expert, Carolyn Harris, "Spare" is an attempt at Prince Harry taking control of the narrative and inserting his own perspective.
Throughout the book, he references the narrative created by the press and how he feels some of this has been untrue or unfair, and he just wants to get his own perspective out there and how important it is to him to do so. There are moments where he's revealing very personal moments involving his family—and that's where I think the controversy arises.Carolyn Harris, University of Toronto lecturer, royal family expert
"Some of the controversy with Harry's memoir is not always the moments where he's talking about himself, but when he when he begins speaking of others, and whether that's a violation of their privacy," she added.
According to Harris, the controversy surrounding the book also arises from the world's fascination with what happens behind palace doors and what it's like to grow up as a member of the royal family.
"One of the biggest challenges if you're a member of the royal family is that you're always in the public eye from your childhood. And so, every memory that Harry shares, there are others who have another perspective," Harris says.
Journalists have pointed out several factual errors in Harry's book since its release. For instance, one of the first errors to catch the readers' eyes was Harry's claim that he was in school at Eton when he found out his great-grandmother, the Queen Mother, died in March 2002.
Photos from the days leading up to the Queen Mom’s death and the day afterward showed that the prince was actually on a ski trip in Switzerland at the time.
Another recent error surfaced when Harry claimed that he offered to buy his wife Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, a first class ticket from Mexico to the UK on Air New Zealand.
However, a spokesperson for Air New Zealand told the New Zealand Herald recently that the airline has “never operated flights” between Mexico and Great Britain and that they only offer Business Premier fares, not first class.
"For many public figures who write memoirs about their childhood, they were comparatively out of the public eye. But Harry, he compared his own upbringing to The Truman Show, feeling as though he's had his life unfolding in the public. And that is why the memoir attracts that much more scrutiny, because the public has seen him grow up," Harris adds.
Another big reason why many have strong opinions about the book is because of Princess Diana's popularity in the media today and how her death impacted Prince Harry.
The life and legacy of Princess Diana has very much been part of popular culture—especially lately with the popularity of The Crown on Netflix, or the move "Spencer" starring Kristen Stewart, that has brought her back and her sons into the very limelight.
It's very clear that for Harry, he's always thinking about his mother and that it was very difficult for him to. lose his mother at such a young age. And so certainly, Harry sees his own experiences within the context of the loss of his mother. So we see again and again, for instance, even when he's at William and Kate's wedding, that should be a joyous occasion, he's thinking about his mother's funeral.Carolyn Harris, University of Toronto lecturer, royal family expert
"So there are many who are empathetic to Harry, there are others who feel very sympathetic to him. But there are also other times where he doesn't always seem to be taking responsibility for his own choices. So it's proven to be a very parallel and a very polarizing book," she adds.
Harris also believes that the memoir is going to have a huge impact on discussions about the next generation of the royal family and bring Prince William's children into a bigger limelight.
"So, there's likely going to be discussion and debate as to whether Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis should be working members of the royal family when they come of age, or should they have more options in terms of in terms of their choice of career. So rather than waiting for situations like this to play out, there may be more proactive planning about whether Charlotte and Louie when they come of age, will be pursuing full time royal lives or we'll be stepping back from royal duties," Harris says.
"Spare" breaks all sales records in Canada, US, and UK
According to Guinness World Records, "Spare" sold 1.43 million copies during its first day of sale in the UK, Canada, and the USA and broke the record of Barack Obama's fourth book, A Promised Land (2020), which sold 887,000 copies on its first day.
Even in Canada, Spare sold 40% more copies online on release day than Indigo’s previous record holder, Barack Obama’s A Promised Land.
Spare was also the #1 search term on Indigo's website on Jan. 10 and it became the fastest-selling non-fiction book in Indigo's history.