- As much mention has been made of Prince Harry's whining, it is useful to go through all of his whining comments in his memoir "Spare".
- A sample of his whines are sorted into three categories: disappointments (regrettable), annoyances (irritations) and hatred (blazing anger).
- Disappointments mainly involve Harry's father and grandmother, annoyances mainly involve his brother, and hatreds mainly involve the tabloids.
In Spare, Prince Harry acknowledged that he is viewed by many as a “whinger” (British for whiner). Certainly, if that wasn’t the case when he was writing his memoir, it is true today, as the book is filled with dozens of complaints about various people and their behavior. But not all of Harry’s whines are equally serious, with some being quite trivial and others verging on the monumental. In the interest of getting a better understanding of why Harry’s nickname could be Gannitus (Latin for whiner), I have gone through Spare and marked every instance of whining, indicating the target and nature of the whine, and placing it in one of three seriousness categories: disappointments, annoyances, and hatreds.
These fall on an anger continuum, with disappointment being more sad than angry, annoyance reflecting mild to moderate irritation, and hatred involving barely controlled fury. These categories also differ in terms of the contemptuousness of the descriptor used, with disappointment using neutral or positive descriptors, annoyance involving mild put-down descriptors (typically indicating stupidity), and hatred using dehumanizing descriptors. A few examples follow; the full list will be in an in-process book.
The principal targets of Harry’s disappointments are his father, King Charles, and his grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth. These mainly touch on their inability to express affection or to deviate from convention and rituals. The complaints here are relatively mild and involve a great deal of sympathy for the disappointer, due to the generally positive nature of the relationship and an understanding of the life circumstances (upbringing and social context) that made it difficult for them to behave otherwise.
- Charles “had trouble communicating, trouble listening, trouble being intimate face-to-face.” (p. 31). Instead, when Charles wanted to express affection for or pride in Harry, he would put it in a letter and place it on his son’s pillow. Harry wished his father could have shown his love for him more directly, and expresses mild sadness at Charles’ inability to do so.
- After the death of his mother, Princess Diana, Harry experienced “…the lack of stability, the lack of warmth, and love, in our home.” (p. 39). Harry expresses disappointment that his dad’s relationship with Camilla was diverting him from his kids at a time when they really needed him.
- The Queen is generally exempt from Harry’s whines, except when she is described as a slave to tradition, unwilling to deviate from counsel provided by her conservative advisers. An example, which Harry considered ridiculous, was when she refused to allow his brother to keep his beard or wear his own regimental uniform when he married Kate because they violated protocol. (p. 184)
Unlike disappointments, which involve regret rather than anger, annoyances involve momentary anger that does not threaten the positive relationship that the person continues to have with the annoyer. Most of the examples of this in Spare involve Harry’s brother, Prince William. After the two brothers married somewhat discordant spouses, however, the relationship began to fray and the anger became more intense.
- William was described as unsympathetic to Harry’s emotional struggles, such as when he laughed at Harry’s sweating profusely after having a panic attack while delivering a speech (p. 236).
- When Harry first joined his older brother at Eton, his feelings were hurt when “Willy told me to pretend I didn’t know him.” (p. 42)
- When Harry started what became the Invictus Games, he thought he could count on a half-million-pound seed grant from the Royal Foundation, controlled by William and himself. He was startled when his brother objected, claiming it would use up too much money. “What was going on here? I wondered. Then I realized: My God, sibling rivalry. I put a hand over my eyes. Had we not got past this yet?” (p. 223)
There are relatively few examples of overt hatred in Spare, and they mostly revolve around Harry’s all-consuming topic: the British tabloid press. He blames the tabloids for the death of his mother, for endlessly harassing him and his wife, and for publishing lies (many of them racist) constantly. Here are some examples:
- Rebecca Brooks, the editor of the biggest tabloid, is described thusly: “Loathsome toad, I gathered. Everyone who knew her was in full agreement that she was an infected pustule on the arse of humanity, plus a shit excuse for a journalist.” (p. 70) He mostly refuses to use the names of people he hates, so he calls her “Rehabber Kooks.”
- Harry had contempt for some of the PR people who worked for the Queen or for Charles and Camilla. Two hated assistants he refers to as “the bee and the wasp.” He characterizes them thusly: “I disliked these men, and they didn’t have any use for me… They considered me irrelevant at best, stupid at worst. Deep down, I feared that each man felt himself to be the One True Monarch, that each was taking advantage of a Queen in her nineties, enjoying his influential position while merely appearing to serve.” (p. 366)
- He accuses Camilla of being cozy with the tabloid editors (who she entertained at Clarence House), using them to advance her campaign to become Queen Consort, in part by having an assistant plant stories critical of Harry and William (p. 361). It may be too strong to say he hates Camilla but he comes pretty close.
Whining involves complaining about things that are inconsequential and part of life. The disappointments are not really whining; while perhaps ignorable, they are still interesting enough to include in a memoir. The hatreds are not really whining either, as they involve grave offenses that deserve to be attacked by anyone who has been thus offended. (Where these become whining is when they are unsupported by evidence, but that is beyond my scope here). For the most part, Harry’s whining (and the source of most of his public disapproval) are the annoyances, which mainly involve family interactions which, however disputatious, are normally kept from public disclosure.
Copyright Stephen Greenspan