In his own words. Prince Harry has spent most of his life as Prince William‘s “shadow” — a role he says his family members “reinforced” regularly.
In Harry’s upcoming memoir, Spare — set to be released on Tuesday, January 10 — the 38-year-old Duke of Sussex recalled feelings of being second fiddle to William, 40. “Balmoral had 50 bedrooms, one of which had been divided for me and Willy … Adults called it the nursery,” Harry began in an excerpt from the book, which Us Weekly can exclusively reveal. He explained that William resided in the “larger half” with a double bed, mirrored doors and a nice view. Harry’s room, however, was much smaller and not as “luxurious.”
Harry said he never questioned the set-up because “Willy was the heir, whereas I was the spare.” He went on to share that this was not just his reality in the press but also at home as dad King Charles III, his mother, the late Princess Diana, and his grandfather, the late Prince Philip, all “regularly reinforced” their roles.
“I was the shadow, the support, the plan B,” Harry explained. “I was brought into the world in case something happened to Willy. I was summoned to provide backup, distraction, diversion … This was all made explicitly clear to me from the start of life’s journey.”
Harry then thought back on a time when he was told a story about a “joke” Charles, 74, “allegedly” said to Diana the day he was born. “‘Wonderful! Now you’ve given me an heir and a spare — my work is done,’” Harry wrote, sharing what was claimed to be said by the king to Diana. “On the other hand, minutes after delivering this bit of high comedy, Pa was said to have gone off to meet with his girlfriend,” Harry said of Queen Consort Camilla. “So, many a true word spoken in jest.”
Diana married Charles in 1981 and the two welcomed William in 1982 and Harry two years later. Throughout his marriage to Diana, Charles maintained a close relationship with Camilla, 75, who was also married with kids at the time. Charles and Camilla allegedly began having an affair in 1986, according to the king’s authorized biography. The late Princess of Wales died at age 36 in a car crash in August 1997.
Seven years later, Charles and Camilla announced their plans to wed, which didn’t go over well with Harry. (The royals tied the knot in 2005.)
“Despite Willy and me urging him not to, Pa was going ahead. We pumped his hand, wished him well. No hard feelings,” the BetterUp CIO shared in Spare. “We recognized that he was finally going to be with the woman he loved, the woman he’d always loved, the woman fate might’ve intended for him in the first place.”
Harry’s soon-to-be released tell-all comes after he and his wife, Meghan Markle, announced their decision to step back from royal duties in January 2020. The couple, who wed in May 2018, opened up about their big exit — citing racism, family tension and negative media coverage as major factors — in a March 2021 interview with CBS and again in their Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, which premiered in December 2022.