Prince Harry can, and will, tell you lots of things you never thought you’d know: whether or not he is circumcised (yes); the efficacy of certain off-label uses for Elizabeth Arden cream (not for genital frostbite); how to make a cock cushion that will protect a penis even in Arctic temps (“square, supportive … sewn from pieces of the softest fleece”). Harry disclosed all this “todger”-related intel and more in his memoir, Spare, the publication of which has predictably ruffled the royal family. Not only do certain key figures — future king Prince Willy; queen consort Camilla — come off looking bad, but our narrator also does so much oversharing. And for that reason, there is one thing even Prince Harry doesn’t seem able to say for sure: whether or not his father, King Charles III, will invite him to his coronation on May 6. In an interview for ITV, Harry told Tom Bradby that the question of his attendance was up in the air. “There’s a lot that can happen between now and then,” he said. “But the door is always open. The ball is in their court.”
Here’s what we know.
First of all, what do the royals think about Spare?
True to form, the royals are not speaking about the book. Publicly, they are carrying out their duties as if nothing happened; privately, some of them are said to be seething. Prince William — painted by Spare as a jealous hothead who once threw Harry on a dog bowl, allegedly encouraged him to wear a Nazi uniform, and was potentially unsupportive of his relationship with Meghan Markle despite being a massive Suits-head — is said to be “devastated” and “incredibly angry at the level of detail.” He has reportedly “come to terms with the fact that he’s lost his little brother quite possibly for life.” Other sources have claimed that Charles, whom Harry portrays in a mostly sympathetic fashion, is “outraged” over his son’s descriptions of Camilla as a “dangerous” and opportunistic media tactician. Still, another anonymous informant says he has “no appetite at this moment in time to engage,” and so far the strategy seems to be to do nothing and let it pass.
Given Harry’s accusations of story-planting by senior royals, going on the offensive via palace spokespeople would only prove his point. And while he would likely caution readers against accepting information from anonymous “insiders” as necessarily true, it feels fair to assume that many of the people Harry has written about are not happy with how they come off.
So no royal retaliation, say, in the form of lost titles or missed invitations?
So far, no: Despite some tabloid chatter about Harry and Meghan potentially losing their Duke and Duchess titles as punishment for the perceived breach of loyalty, it seems unlikely that retributive measures will be taken. With that in mind, “I’m not sure the reports about Harry being disinvited from the coronation are accurate,” Vanity Fair’s royal correspondent, Katie Nicholl, told Entertainment Tonight. “My sources close to the king say that he will be extending that olive branch and that he will be inviting Meghan and Harry.” And, according to Nicholl, not just because Charles wants to salvage royal reputations: “It is his son, after all, and the king really does want a reconciliation in the long term,” she said. “I think he wants to be magnanimous. I think he wants to take a leaf out of the queen’s book. I think he ultimately wants to heal the rift and wants his son at his coronation.”
And while that may all be true, it’s also worth remembering that the other option is being publicly vindictive, which only validates Harry’s narrative. It would also invite yet another critical media cycle, which is probably not what the new king wants as he ascends the throne.
Would the king respond with a tell-all of his own?
A Daily Mirror report has dangled the possibility, saying that the BBC — as part of its coronation coverage — wants to run a sit-down interview with the king, in which he would doubtless be asked about Meghan and Harry. The Mirror also said Jonathan Dimbleby, who conducted the 1994 interview in which Charles publicly admitted to cheating on Princess Diana, might do this one, too. But that special didn’t go well for Charles, and while it makes sense that the BBC (or any media outlet) would be eager to air an exclusive with the monarch, it’s hard to envision him issuing a response via TV profile. “A lack of candor is the royal way; candor is seen dolorously, even if the only truly discreet royal — Queen Elizabeth — is now dead,” the Daily Beast points out. “She never divulged anything” and generally met even the biggest family crises with outward-facing silence.
Charles has historically been a more outspoken figure than his mother, but a king sitting down for a prime-time tell-all to retaliate against his son? I’m skeptical! That just doesn’t seem like something a reigning monarch would do. As the Mirror itself notes, “Even one small comment on Harry and Meghan would make worldwide news. It could also prompt a response from Harry, which would be unpredictable, like so much. Everything is very delicate.”
Would Harry attend the coronation?
During his Spare press tour, the prince repeatedly stated that he wants his family back, but also said that “they have shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile.” Harry believes his family members should be the ones to bend: “You could argue that some of the stuff I’ve put in there, well, they will never forgive me anyway,” he recently told The Telegraph. “But the way I see it is, I’m willing to forgive you for everything you’ve done, and I wish you’d actually sat down with me, properly, and instead of saying I’m delusional and paranoid, actually sit down and have a proper conversation about this, because what I’d really like is some accountability. And an apology to my wife.”
Per Us Weekly’s sources, he hasn’t gotten it. “No apology to Meghan has been made by the Palace, which frustrates Harry,” this person told the magazine nearly a month after Spare’s publication. “Nor has he received a personal apology.” They went on to say that Harry “was hoping his family, especially William, would lay their cards on the table and have an open conversation with him, but they haven’t made progress.” A second unnamed person added, “At this point, the royals can only move forward and come to some form of truce with Harry if everyone sits down and talks through their issues privately.”
Given Harry’s rancor toward the media and the royals’ practice of enlisting unnamed sources to tell their side of things, I suppose we should take an anonymous report with a grain of salt. Still, this one seems credible: Harry has said he is looking for someone to say sorry, and at the same time, he hasn’t yet acknowledged that some in his family might see Spare’s disclosures as hurtful or even as a flat-out betrayal. “I’m not sure how honesty is burning bridges,” Harry told Bradby when the interviewer pointed out that the book could complicate reconciliation. “You know, silence only allows the abuser to abuse. Right? So I don’t know how staying silent is ever gonna make things better. That’s genuinely what I believe.”
Some might argue that there is a difference between staying silent — which Harry was not doing before Spare’s publication (see also his six-part Netflix docuseries and his Oprah interview special) — and cataloguing decades of grievances, both legitimate and petty, in microscopic detail. If Harry does genuinely want to rebuild his relationships with his father and brother, he might consider some accountability, too.
If he does go: Would Harry participate or would he just be a guest?
Presently unclear, though Harry relinquished his public duties when he stepped back as a senior royal, so it wouldn’t be surprising not to see him and Meghan on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the ceremony. That was procedure at the queen’s Platinum Jubilee, too: Only working royals got to stand on the balcony with her at the Trooping of the Colour. But while the palace has released new details for the weekend — there’s another Big Lunch on the books — Nicholl told ET that it was too soon to say anything concrete about specific plans for the crowning itself. “My understanding is that the guest list hasn’t even been confirmed at this stage by Buckingham Palace. They’re still working on it. It’s still considered quite early days, I’m told,” she said. Nicholl also noted that Charles — who has previously expressed a desire not only to slim down the ranks of the senior royals, but also to streamline the coronation itself — may skip the bit where he makes all the dukes kneel to him, potentially absolving both him and Harry of one uncomfortable moment. I’m sure we will have lots more speculation to sift through before C-Day arrives, though, so stay tuned.
This article has been updated.