‘Spare’ comes hot on the heels of the Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary that laid bare his turbulent relationship with Charles and William. Judging by a trailer released on Monday, the family rift will be further exposed during a 90-minute interview on ITV this weekend promoting the book.
The public perception of Harry has seemingly taken a battering in recent weeks.
In December, a YouGov poll showed just one-third of Britons hold a positive view of him – a 13-point drop since November. At the weekend, a separate YouGov survey commissioned by The Times found that 44 per cent of respondents said he should lose his royal title.
Following the release of the trailer, one royal expert has said the interview – plus another one to be aired on US channel CBS – could help “soften” this anger and improve the public’s perception of the Duke of Sussex.
Victoria Arbiter has said she believes Prince Harry needs to show a “softer” side if he is to regain public sympathy during the interviews with ITV’s Tom Bradby and CBS’s Anderson Cooper.
Arbiter is the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter and lived in Kensington Palace when she was in her late teens.
She tweeted: “Prince Harry appears to be so consumed with anger he’s going to need Sunday’s interviews to help humanise him if he’s to garner public sympathy. Cooper lost his dad when he was 10 and Bradby had a breakdown in 2018. It’ll be interesting to see if they’re able to soften his rage.”
Harry’s comments have drawn particularly strong criticism from one Tory MP, Tom Loughton, who said the Duke of Sussex should “just shut the f*** up”.
Spare is due to be published next week on the 10th January, and Harry’s interviews with ITV and 60 Minutes will air just days before on Sunday 8th.
The promotional clips suggest that is unlikely and the interviews instead look like they will provide more insight into his rift with the rest of the Royal Family.
In the ITV trailer, Harry says that despite wanting to reconcile with his father and brother they have “shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile” and noted he wanted “a family, not an institution”.
The separate trailer with Cooper shows sees Harry delve once again into the controversial allegations he has previously made that people working in the royal households leaked stories about him and Meghan to journalists.
He claims that the reason why many of these family issues between the Windsor’s have played out on the public is due to the tendency of palace aides towards leaking.
“Every single time I’ve tried to do this privately”, he said, “there have been briefings and leakings and planting of stories against me and my wife. You know the family motto is ‘never complain, never explain’ but it’s just a motto”.
Harry went on to claim that the palace’s “endless” complaining and explaining happens through leaks to the press.
“They will feed or have a conversation with the correspondent, and that correspondent will literally be spoon fed information and write the story. And at the bottom of it they will say they have reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment, but the whole story is Buckingham Palace commenting.”
The memoir and promotional interviews come only weeks after the Sussexes’ Netflix documentary was released. Much of the couple’s complaints within the series were perceived to be retreading old ground — the new insight that was provided to viewers was mostly based around Harry and Meghan’s private life and the early days of their relationship.
After the first batch of Harry and Meghan’s documentary dropped, polling company Savanta found that 59% of UK adults thought that the couple releasing the documentary was a bad idea.
Attitudes to the couple may vary across the pond, but Arbiter’s comments indicate her concern that within the UK itself patience for Harry might be wearing thin. Despite the polling data, the Sussexes series was the highest debut ever for the streaming platform as a documentary.
This time around it is Harry’s perspective and impressions of the royal institution alone that will take centre stage. How this will affect the public’s impression of the memoir remains to be seen.
Only time will tell if he is able to leverage the historic affection the British public held for him into something tangible, like calls for change within the institution he has left behind.