The man who ghost-wrote Prince Harry’s highly controversial memoir, Spare, has spoken of how his time with the Duke of Sussex helped him understand the pressure of constantly being in the spotlight so much better.
JR Moehringer opened up in an interview about how he and his family experienced stalking and harassment by members of the press, soon after the autobiography was first published, in what he described as a “media frenzy”.
During the opening week of its release in the UK, the book became the fastest-selling in the non-fiction category (slightly controversial as even Prince Harry has admitted some of it might not actually be true) since records began, although that was only in1998, so does not cover a substantial period.
The author, who also wrote for Andre Agassi and Phil Knight, said the events shocked him and made him realise just what it must have been like for the royal couple, under constant media attention.
Press intruding on school drive
In a fascinating insight, Mr Moehringer told how he and his wife were left feeling “fragile” when immediately after Spare came out, they were followed by a paparazzi photographer after driving his young son to preschool. Then on the very same day, a newspaper journalist appeared at his window while he was working, leaving him with a sense of vulnerability, but also with a tiny appreciation of what life must be like for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Media attention an “eye opener”
The writer pointed out that with celebrity memoirs he always insists on a clause in his contract giving him the right to remain anonymous, however with this release, and almost inevitably, his name was leaked out to the world press. He explained how he then found himself in what he described as “squinting into a gigantic searchlight of media attention”.
He was particularly frustrated to be on the receiving end of many falsehoods, somewhat ironic in a way, as Harry has openly admitted that much of what is in the book “might not be factually true” as he “struggles to remember detail”, yet the autobiography makes no mention of such possibility anywhere in its text.
Harsh words in early morning discussion
He explained how he and Harry had worked incredibly closely on the book’s content for in excess of two years, initially via zoom calls and then over long spells at the Prince’s home in Montecito, California. He spoke of how there were times when tension crept in between the two of them as they disagreed about certain parts that should be put into the publication.
At one point, he said that they had a 2am shouting match over a passage that Harry was insisting should be included. “’I was exasperated with him” Mr Moehringer admitted: “My head was pounding, my jaw was clenched, and I was starting to raise my voice, and yet some part of me was still able to step outside the situation and think: ‘This is so weird, I am shouting at Prince Harry’.”
The dispute seemingly was in reference to a certain “comeback” the Duke had aimed at somebody during a military exercise when a “vile dig at Princess Diana” was uttered to “wind the Prince up”, which the individual involved later apologised for.
Mr Moehringer felt the comeback was “unnecessary, and somewhat inane”, but Harry wanted it in. Even after receiving an explanation as to why it had to be included the writer wouldn’t relent and apparently following a lengthy discussion, and a few home truths, the Prince eventually backed down.
Of course the fall out from the book continues to cause great waves in the royal family as proved just last weekend when Harry flew into the UK to attend his father’s Coronation, but he appeared to have no contact with either King Charles, or his brother, the Prince of Wales, before leaving immediately after the service and flying straight back to Los Angeles.
It is understood the Prince William remains furious with his younger sibling after several passages in the book painted him in a really bad light, and many observers believe the relationship is fractured beyond repair.
Mr Moehringer has previously ghost-written for Andre Agassi and Nike co-founder Phil Knight in their respective memoirs: Open and Shoe Dog. He also won a Pulitzer Prize for his feature Crossing Over.