LONDON — Might there be another British royal ready to spill the tea?
Authors, biographers and royal observers are divided as to whether Prince Harry’s memoir, “Spare,” and the stream of TV interviews that followed, will prompt his close relatives, and other royals, to tell their own stories, and clarify all the reports, and rumors, reported by the tabloids.
Some think that now Prince Harry has released the book, wrapped his trans-Atlantic marketing blitz and made millions (some of which will be donated to charity) that the royals, and the tabloids, will return to business as usual.
Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty magazine and author of more than a dozen books on the royal family, said she does not foresee a flush of royal memoirs — except maybe one.
“If anyone does, I have a feeling that Prince Andrew might. After all his wife [Sarah Ferguson] did, and he must be watching Harry making millions with a certain amount of envy,” said Seward.
Andrew is no longer a working member of the royal family following allegations of sexually assaulting underage women while spending time with his friend Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.
Last February, Andrew settled the case out of court for an undisclosed sum, but has continued to protest his innocence, notably with the BBC program Newsnight, which was widely seen as a PR disaster. Like his nephew Harry, Andrew might want to tell his own story, attempt to rebuild his reputation — and make a load of cash.
Anne Sebba, the journalist and biographer who has written books on Wallis Simpson, Jennie Churchill, Ethel Rosenberg and others, said she believes there could be more royal memoirs to come.
She said that in an age “when so much is known through media intrusion of the royal’s private life or — as Harry indicates — palace sources revealing certain stories, it seems to me inevitable that more books will be written attempting to provide ‘the authentic version’ or correct what are inevitably half-truths.”
Sebba believes Harry’s book is nothing new, and sees “Spare” as the latest in a series of 20th and 21st century royal confessionals.
In particular, she noted that Edward VIII (who abdicated the British throne in 1936) and his wife Wallis Simpson “also wrote what they hoped would be revealing biographies, as well as give them large sums of money.”
She added that “Princess Diana’s accounts of her life, which made their way to Andrew Morton for a revelatory biography, and Jonathan Dimbleby’s 1994 biography of [King] Charles are all variations of a theme. I would argue that there is nothing new in the idea of Harry’s memoir. Indeed it is very much a book for our times, therapy and all.”
By contrast, the royal historian Hugo Vickers, who has written about figures including Wallis Simpson, the Duke of Kent, and Princess Andrew of Greece, isn’t expecting any more bombshell memoirs anytime soon.
He noted that, unlike Harry, other top-ranking members of the family aren’t under pressure to make money. They have day jobs representing the monarchy, the country and their various charities and causes. They’re funded by the British taxpayer, and have personal property and wealth to supplement that income.
“They work extremely hard, and don’t always live very grandly,” said Vickers, adding that Harry’s book “is entirely to do with making money. In this case, there’s an enormous amount involved, and so he’s had to deliver. I don’t think you’re going to find Prince William writing one — or anybody else.”
According to a survey this week from YouGov, the market research and data analytics firm, 41 percent of Britons believe that Harry wrote “Spare” to make money. By contrast, 21 percent believe the main motivation behind the book was for the prince to tell his story.
Vickers added that Harry is wrong to think the royal family is obsessed with publicity, and felt threatened by the glamorous American Meghan Markle.
“Members of the royal family are quite used to the fact that, at a certain stage of their life, they’ll get a lot of interest. And as time goes on, others will get more interest,” said Vickers, adding the royal family appeals to newspapers at certain moments — births, marriages, coronations, jubilees — or when they’re having love affairs.
The rest of the time, the family gets on with their work, and their lives, most of which takes place behind the scenes, said Vickers.
Stephen Bates, journalist and author of the book “Royalty Inc: Britain’s Best-Known Brand,” said it’s unlikely that members of the royal family will start writing kiss-and-tell stories.
“Because almost every time they do something on the record, it’s a complete disaster,” said Bates, pointing to Andrew’s Newsnight interview — which led to his being sidelined from royal duties — and to Harry’s plummeting popularity ratings after writing “Spare.”
According to YouGov, 24 percent of Britons said they thought positively of Prince Harry following the release of “Spare.” Some 68 percent said they had a “negative” opinion. YouGov added that Harry’s current favorability rating of minus 44 is an all-time low. It’s down from minus 38 last week, a previous record low.
Barring Harry and Meghan, who’s reported to be drafting her own memoir, it’s unlikely that members of the royal family will be brokering lucrative publishing deals anytime soon, yet much remains to be written about the royals — by the British tabloids, the newspaper columnists, biographers and screenwriters.
Seward of Majesty magazine said that Harry’s book — and the TV interviews in the U.K. and the U.S. — have been a goldmine for the tabloid press. “Everyone is talking about it; reading about it; and saying they’re fed up with it. It takes people’s minds off the current gloomy situation, and general dullness of January in the U.K.”
Bates believes that Harry has done the tabloids “a great favor at the moment because they’re selling pages and pages. In the long term [Harry’s book] is not going to stop the tabloids — or anyone else — from covering the royals. It’s part of their job, and it’s part of the royals’ [job] to be seen.”
Generating publicity, he said, is a key royal responsibility. William the Conqueror knew it, as did Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria — and nearly every other British monarch over the past 957 years.
“It’s part of what being a royal is, and complaining doesn’t make any difference. It goes with the territory. If the time comes when Britain wants another form of executive government, then [the royal family] can creep into obscurity, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon, because they are still hugely popular,” Bates said.