If you’re wondering what to get your hard-to-buy-for family members and loved ones this Christmas, look no further. That sweet uncle who likes to lecture you on how to properly tie a half-windsor? Then it had to be People, cars and sacred cowsa collection of essays by prince philip from 1984 covering important topics such as why polo referees are out of place.
Can a recently divorced cousin start drinking prosecco at 10.30am on Christmas Day? Autobiography of Sarah, Duchess of York, 1996 or sequel Finding Sarah: A Duchess’s Journey to Find Herself it’s just a ticket.
And that aunt who has too many thoughts about crystals and some, ah, interesting thoughts about homeopathy? Just buy the King Charles 2010 issue, Harmony: A New Look at Our Worldwhich falls among a lot of random stuff, Sufism, the “grammar and geometry” of nature, the Large Hadron Collider, and Thomas Aquinas.
But when it comes to the sibling who constantly berates the family, slurps up a warm sausage sizzle, and can pout on a competitive level? Well, they will have to wait until 2023 with New York Times on Thursday, finally revealing that the prince Autobiography of Harry, Duke of Sussex will be released only on January 10 next year.
January? (Said in my best Lady Bracknell voice.)
Not only that Times reported that the father of two had “frozen” and that “the project has been shrouded in rumours, delays and secrecy”.
Until now, it was widely reported that publisher Penguin Random House wanted Harry’s book to be released in time for the Christmas sales peak. (Nothing like the gloating of reading about another family’s dysfunction to set the cash registers ringing!) However, after death Queen Elizabeth claims emerged in September that the Duke wanted to rework the title and it may not be released until 2023.
But until now, no one thought Harry’s book would hit the strange retail dead zone that accompanies a new year and new credit card bills.
The beginning of January (comes in a day Kate, Princess of Wales‘ birthday) is an odd choice.
Consider the release dates of similar high-profile celebrity literary offerings recently. Michelle Obama Becoming was released in November 2018 (17 million copies sold and counting), and her next title is due out in the coming months, and Barack Obama The promised land released November 2020. Other famous celebrity autobiographies from the past 12 months included Storyteller Dave Grohl (October 2021), I’m going there Katie Couric (October 2021) and Will by Will Smith (November 2021). See a pattern?
Only one from 2021 New York Times The nonfiction bestseller list came out in January, but it could be argued that it was an anomaly, given that the subject (actress Cicely Tyson) died within days of its release, thereby sparking public interest in it.
The cold, dark months of winter in the northern hemisphere are not conducive to readers wanting to sit through a prince’s tale of woe while they do the mental arithmetic to see if they can afford to turn on the heating.
So what could this mean?
Could time Harry’s book is coming out be a ploy to ensure it hits the top of the bestseller lists given the possible lack of competition? Could it be that the finished manuscript is far less explosive than anyone might have thought?
(After all, Penguin Random House is paying Harry a $32 million advance for the multi-book deal and has confirmed that Harry is “donating his profits to charity,” but how Times notes: “It was unclear whether they meant his substantial advance or the possible royalties he could earn if the books sold well enough to earn that advance.”)
You’d think that if a publisher had a solid shot out of the water, they’d do everything in their power — sorry, three martini lunches — to get it on the shelves in time for the holidays, right?
If the book turns out to be a little silly, it would be very good for the books (yes, yes, I know, an average pun at best), given that speculation about the memoir focuses on how devastating the Duke might go down on his father and his stepmother , Queen Camilla. For months, there were reports that courtiers were getting steamy at the prospect of the duke enjoying smoking dirt. (My suggestion? Mix equal parts Rescue Remedy and Courvoisier for a cocktail I’d call Equerry’s Little Helper)
There are other clues on Thursday Times a story that could suggest that Harry’s Big Book of Truth might be a bit of a wet squibble. According to the doc, Harry, a first-time writer, isn’t doing exactly amazing, and it’s not helped (I’m guessing) by the fact that this is possibly the longest he’s sat at a desk since getting a B in art and D in geography in final exams.
(In 2005, a former art teacher at Eton accused him of cheating at A-levels, the British equivalent of the HSC. The exam board later cleared the prince, a teacher won her wrongful-dismissal case and an employment tribunal “accepted the prince received help with his preparation » of the art project, reports Guardian.)
Thursday Times The report claims that “book industry executives with knowledge of the process” revealed that the 38-year-old self-exiled royal “at various points has cooled on the content of the memoir”.
It follows reports late last month that the Duke wanted to make “revisions” to his book following the death of his grandmother and the arrival of his father, with the Mail on Sunday reporting that “there may be things in the book that wouldn’t look so good, if they come out so soon after these events … He is desperate to make a change.”
Elsewhere, The Sun previously reported that his publishers found the first draft he turned in “disappointing” and “too emotional” and that the final draft took “a lot of money and energy”.
It would be perfectly understandable if Harry had second, third or 17th thoughts about this autobiography. If he’s going to tell everything in the most literal sense, it could very well mean the final burning of any shaky bridges left between him and his family.
Despite the grievances, the Oprah interview, or the suffering he and Meghan endured at the hands of the monarchy, will he — or even be able to — ever truly be ready to sever the tenuous ties that still bind him? For better or worse, they are his closest family.
The Duke clearly does not want to turn his back on his homeland. It was confirmed earlier this year that the Sussexes had renewed their lease on their Windsor property, Frogmore Cottage, and in February his lawyer Shahid Fatima KC said Britain “is and always will be his home” during a picnic mix. grab the bag of suits he has on the go.
Would it really be that big of a surprise if it turned out that Harry, lured by a huge check and the chance to tell all about Camilla, might reconsider the project? (Maybe she smokes in bed? Lets the dogs eat Queen Victoria’s wedding china? Once killed a footman for messing up her collection of first edition Jilly Cooper novels)
Just last month, Harry and Meghan spent the longest time in Blighty since Megxit, following the death of Queen Elizabeth, when they were in the UK for a number of charity events. Of course, it wasn’t reported that Harry spent any time with his father or brother off-screen at all, but surely such a deep and sad moment would be a natural moment for reflection and prioritization.
Could this also be the moment that made Harry think about what kind of relationship he might want to have with his family someday in the future, and thus what exactly he was willing to share with the world about the House of Windsor? (Indeed, by this point, there may be very few adults on planet Earth who don’t know that the royal family is a doozy of upbringing and has an unusually high degree of tolerance for dogs, children’s pranks, and German Christmas traditions.)
However, if Harry hesitates to publish his book, he may find himself in a difficult position. (I know, I have a problem.) As the Times noted Thursday, the book puts Harry “in an impossible situation.” He may be harming his family, which could have irreversible consequences, or if he chooses to remain schtum, it will make it difficult for “his publisher to recoup significant costs — and could undermine Harry’s image of himself as a rebel, a true prince.”
To co-opt an academic aphorism, it must be published or perish here.
Daniela Elzer is a writer and royal commentator with over 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media outlets.
Originally published as ‘Rumors, delays, cold feet’: Prince Harry crisis deepens