‘Spare’: Prince Harry had a ‘long chat’ with QEII four days before she died

I have a question for the people who have already read Prince Harry’s Spare: how do you think QEII came across in Harry’s narrative? To me, she came across as remote and unengaged with the daily operations of her family and the institution of the monarchy, but it definitely felt like Harry had so much warmth for her, and she for him. Especially in what we now know were the final years of her life – QEII didn’t seem to be aware, whatsoever, of what Harry and Meghan were going through, or how much they were trying to work within the system before they eventually left. One thing Harry makes abundantly clear is that he and his grandmother were in communication until the very end, despite whatever bullsh-t those “palace sources” claim now. Days before QEII passed, Harry spoke to her on the phone from Frogmore Cottage, and he reflected on that call as he made his way to Balmoral on the day she died:

I spent much of the flight staring at the clouds, replaying the last time I’d spoken with Granny. Four days earlier, long chat on the phone. We’d touched on many topics. Her health, of course. The turmoil at Number 10. The Braemar Games—she was sorry about not being well enough to attend. We talked also about the biblical drought. The lawn at Frogmore, where Meg and I were staying, was in terrible shape. Looks like the top of my head, Granny! Balding and brown in patches. She laughed. I told her to take care, I looked forward to seeing her soon.

As the plane began its descent, my phone lit up. A text from Meg. Call me the moment you get this. I checked the BBC website. Granny was gone. Pa was King.

[From Spare by Prince Harry]

I remember the British media was focused, at the time, on the story that QEII invited the Sussexes to visit her in Balmoral that summer but they had turned her down. Now it looks like Harry was, as ever, in regular contact and QEII was alert enough to have a “long chat” with Harry on the phone. Not only that, but he got to introduce QEII to his children during the Jubbly last June:

For days and days [after we returned from QEII’s funeral] we couldn’t stop hugging the children, couldn’t let them out of our sight—though I also couldn’t stop picturing them with Granny. The final visit. Archie making deep, chivalrous bows, his baby sister Lilibet cuddling the monarch’s shins. Sweetest children, Granny said, sounding bemused. She’d expected them to be a bit more…American, I think? Meaning, in her mind, more rambunctious.

…Day and night, images flitted through my mind…. Standing before her during my passing-out parade, shoulders thrown back, catching her half smile. Stationed beside her on the balcony, saying something that caught her off guard and made her, despite the solemnity of the occasion, laugh out loud. Leaning into her ear, so many times, smelling her perfume as I whispered a joke. Kissing both cheeks at one public event, just recently, placing a hand lightly on her shoulder, feeling how frail she was becoming. Making a silly video for the first Invictus Games, discovering that she was a natural comedienne. People around the world howled, and said they’d never suspected she possessed such a wicked sense of humor—but she did, she always did! That was one of our little secrets. In fact, in every photo of us, whenever we’re exchanging a glance, making solid eye contact, it’s clear: We had secrets.

Special relationship, that’s what they said about us, and now I couldn’t stop thinking about the specialness that would no longer be. The visits that wouldn’t take place.

[From Spare, by Prince Harry]

Yeah… Harry was everybody’s favorite, wasn’t he? While Charles was a remote, unaffectionate figure for much of Harry’s life, Charles was still a lot closer to Harry than he was to William. Same with QEII – she had so much affection for the spare. By the end of Spare, it really felt like… Harry isn’t going to bother much with his family now that QEII has passed. Yes, he’s spoken about his terms for reconciliation, but Harry knows his father and brother. He knows them well. So saying goodbye to QEII was saying goodbye to a lot more.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images, Backgrid.

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126 Responses to “‘Spare’: Prince Harry had a ‘long chat’ with QEII four days before she died”

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  1. Ang says:

    What oh what would we all collectively do for a photo of Lili clung to TQ’s legs, and Archie solomnly bowing!

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Ang, it would be a wonderful sight to see! It seems that Archie and Lili stole her heart as did Harry and Meghan as well. I imagine that she and Harry did share a special bond that QEII held as opposed to her other grandchildren.

    • Jais says:

      The part about her being surprised they weren’t more American meaning rambunctious was funny. Like does that family just think they’re raising California heathens over there?

      • Snuffles says:

        I can only imagine the royal family’s assumptions about Americans. Probably loud, rude, no manners, Trumpy.

      • Inge says:

        She’s used to the menace that is Louis…

      • Ginger says:

        Yeah, they are used to kids that behave like Louis. Plus, Mike Tindall’s daughter was biting and licking him at the jubilee so that must be normal behavior for the RF?

      • bananapanda says:

        I remember Harry mentioning a couple years ago how they would have on camera zoom calls with QEII and Prince Philip which no one seemed to pick up on.

        It’s even stranger bc upper class British kids are the most out of control – I’ve seen first hand as they tear around houses and gardens in a way that upper class American kids would never do without being reprimanded. Below age 6 they’re kind of feral ha ha

        Regarding manners, I wouldn’t be surprised if they also prepped Archie and Lilibet bc she was the Queen and quite old.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Jais, I cannot stand this family’s blatant disdain for Americans— UNTIL it’s time for a fundraising trip. They can fck right off. They’re fine taking American money, but spend the other 363 days of the year trashing us.

  2. dawnchild says:

    To be capable of love is to be blessed, and it’s clear that he’s capable of giving and receiving love. He’s lucky to have kept it through everything…it’ll keep him safe

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      He’s the only one in the family who seems to know what love is. Remember his father’s famous remark when he and Diana were interviewed after their engagement: “whatever love is”. Pathetic man.

      • Sue E Generis says:

        I always thought Charles made that remark because he never loved Diana. That was true, but it’s deeper than that. I think he meant it literally – he has never experienced love. Every relationship in his life has been purely transactional.

      • SarahLee says:

        Not to defend Charles (Ick! I may need to shower after this), but Charles was not raised at all to know what love is. His mother was remote. He was a constant disappointment to his father. He was clearly the 4th favorite child of his parents. When I read Spare (and I’m only about 2/3 of the way through), I read of a family with generational trauma. Harry loved his grandparents and by all accounts, they loved him. But I think Harry’s relationship with his family is going to be almost exclusively through the Yorks. He seems very fond of Fergie and of course has been close to Beatrice and Eugenie. One of my favorite parts of the documentary was watching Eugenie playing on the beach with Archie.

    • May Bench says:

      When you find someone special who always loves you and has your back, you are lucky. Harry and Meghan are lucky, and I also was lucky when I found my hubby. He was my sweetheart until the day he passed away at age 53. Love is special.

  3. Inge says:

    Such a sweet story of baby Lilbet hugging great-granny’s Lilibet’s shins, and Archie making deep chivelrous bows!

    On another note so Harry did found out that his grandmother passed along with the rest of us?

    • Abby says:

      Yes. He was told she was not doing well, got on a plane, and then found out she had died by checking the BBC when his plane landed. Isn’t that wild?

      • Chloe says:

        And strangely accurate with what was reported at the time. Proving once again that KP and Charles’ households leak like sieves

      • ROAA says:

        And his wife was not welcome to accompany him.

      • ThatsNotOkay says:

        And he was not invited on the aircraft carrying his relatives that would have gotten him there that much sooner. But they weren’t there before she died either, so joke’s on their sorry azzes.

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:

        Wasn’t Anne with QE2 when she passed or did I think I heard that?

      • Becks1 says:

        @MerlinsMom yes, supposedly Anne was there, but she was already in Scotland at that point. She didn’t fly up that day with the rest of the family, she and Charles were already in Scotland.

      • Jais says:

        Imagine if the plane that William went on with all the others had made it in time and everybody on it got to see the queen while Harry did not as he was forced to make his own travel arrangements. Like my god that was evil.

    • Laura D says:

      I know I shouldn’t say this but, if someone “leaked” a picture of Archie doing deep chivalrous bows to TQ it would be worth a fortune. I know I’d love to see that image. :blush:

      • lanne says:

        I hope Harry and Meghan choose to release it some time–I don’t want it to leak.

      • Underhill says:

        I would understand if they kept that one just for themselves.

      • Nerd says:

        I hate to have any suggestions of leaking photos of their children. We are only fans and supporters and our desire to see such moments, although sweet, isn’t more important than the safety and privacy of them and especially their children. I don’t know why that comment is so bothersome but it puts a very disturbing image of putting fans wishes or haters desire for money above actual human beings lives and well being.

        Anyway I believe that the Queen was truly a figurehead the last several years of her life and the people around her (Angela, the Bee, the Wasp, Chucky doll and Wee Willie) we’re running things and actively making sure that she wasn’t aware of what was going on with their collusion with the media. I think Harry was absolutely her favorite and she had a close bond with Meghan also. I’m happy that they were all able to have a special moment with her as a family before she passed away.

    • Pat says:

      In some article I remember Meghan commenting that manners make the man and they were reaching Archie manners She then mentioned that you never moved the salt without the pepper I had never heard that and as a child and teenager I went to all kinds of manners classes

      • Sandra says:

        Not sure I quite get this reference. Can you explain the salt/pepper thing? My brain is a bit sluggish this morning…

      • Coldbloodedjellydonut says:

        Moving salt & pepper together was considered mannerly in my family, too.

      • Elfje says:

        By salt & pepper moving together, Meghan referred to Harry and herself. She said that in an interview.

        I’ve read his book, saw all the interviews and darn, Harry’s Spare is a huge success, and got the BM in a huge meltdown, hence the nasty hit pieces every day in the tabloids. From the monarchy’s point of view, Harry and Meghan must be down sided, in order for the monarchy to survive. I wonder how long the monarchy can survive, if they don’t change.

      • Lucky Charm says:

        My mother taught us to always pass both the salt and pepper together. Even if someone asked only for one we moved both down the table. I never questioned but was taught it’s just good manners.

  4. Noor says:

    How sad the Palace happily and triumphantly leaked that Prince Harry was forbidden to take a photo of his children with their grandmother , the late Queen. Like Harry said he wants a family , not an institution

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Noor, I was unaware of this atrocity. How harmful would a picture be?

      Such a disgusting “family” filled with shameless betrayals, an onslaught of lies and viciousness to the point that I am surprise that they haven’t grown tails and horns.

    • YeahRight says:

      Unless the palace took Harry and Meghan’s phones when they came to visit. (I doubt they would hand them over knowing how sketchy the palace staff are.) I definitely think they took a few pictures of Liz and the kids that they will keep private. Harry has had his phone hacked before and if the BM knew those pictures existed there would be no lengths they wouldn’t go to get hold of those pictures.

    • Lorelei says:

      Harry is a much, much better person than I am. I’ve tried, but cannot reconcile the way he talks about the Queen and their special relationship and how much he and Meghan love her (to the extent that they named their daughter after her!) with the fact that she literally never so much as lifted a finger to help the Sussexes— to call off the press, to correct so many of the lies about them, nothing. She could have made a difference with one phone call and she NEVER DID A THING.

      If I were Harry, I really believe I’d feel far too betrayed to hold her in such high regard. Sure, I still would have loved her and would have been sad when she died because she *was* my grandmother, and they did have a better relationship years back, but I think the way she treated the Sussexes was just unforgivable. And it went on for YEARS. (At the same time as she was making it a priority to make public shows of support for a pedophile.)

      IDK if Harry is still in denial about the fact that the Queen could have alleviated a lot of the sh!t thrown at H&M but didn’t, or if he’s just an amazingly forgiving person? But I wouldn’t be able to be nearly as charitable toward her as he is.

      • lanne says:

        It may be that his feelings are much more complex than he has shared–but he realizes what an important symbol his grandmother is–people would be a lot more hostile toward the book if he criticized his grandmother, even if it was deserved.

        Either that, or he saw that she was seriously impaired mentally or physically, and completely under the thumb of her nasty advisors.

      • Isabella says:

        Maybe he cut her a break because of her very advanced age? I mean, lots of our elderly relatives are, well, not quite in this world.

      • Coldbloodedjellydonut says:

        I feel the same as you, Lorelei, but I think (especially based on things Harry has said and what he wrote in the book) that her advisors lied to her and kept her in the dark. Harry tried to go through official channels to get the issues addressed rather than troubling his very elderly grandmother. They lied to him and did nothing.

        I think she still should have seen what was happening and done something, but she has always been widely known as a bit of an ostrich and most likely to ignore things if they weren’t right in her face.

    • Nerd says:

      I’m not too sure that the article is truthful. They were saying numerous things during that time and some of those things were very questionable. For instance the claim that prior to the Church service where Harry and Meghan walked in separately, the media claimed that the children met Charles. I always questioned that because if they did and immediately after they were driven to the church service, where were the children during that time and who was with them? I don’t believe that Harry and Meghan would have left them at Clarence House while they were at the service, especially with the vultures at CH who would have definitely taken pictures and leaked those to the media for profit.

    • Lucky Charm says:

      I don’t believe for one second that they didn’t get any pictures of the children with the queen. Maybe not formal “official” ones, but certainly private ones.

  5. Chloe says:

    I believe that Harry was everyone’s favorite within the family and that is where a lot of williams jealousy stems from.

    And yet i can’t help but think that they had a funny way of showing that they liked harry….

    That boy was neglected.

    • NotTheOne says:

      I agree, he was their favorite and had no qualms of using him to advance themselves. I haven’t finished the book yet but from the excerpts on this site, I completely agree. He thought he didn’t get certain things – like a real bedroom – because he wasn’t married. Nope, it’s because you’re the spare.

    • Julia K says:

      No he was not the favorite. The Tindals, esp Mike, are openly hostile to him. I read that Peter Philip’s also has nothing good to say about him. The Blackamoor broach lady is no fan, either.

      • L84Tea says:

        Peter the Milk Maid? Please.

      • Becks1 says:

        The tindalls weren’t openly hostile to him until they realized they had to be in order to stay on William’s good side. Mike maybe never liked him bc he just seems like a general ahole, but Zara and he seemed to have gotten on well enough (even though I think she was closer to William) – Harry is a godfather to Lena Tindall.

        I think generally Peter is old enough that he and Harry probably didn’t interact that much, Harry probably interacted more with Beatrice and Eugenie (Beatrice is less than 4 years younger than Harry, Peter is 7 years older.)

        However, I would not be surprised to see Peter or Zara write a book and try to get their money, especially after their mother dies.

      • TheVolvesSeidr says:

        @Julia K the fav of the Queen, Philip, Charles and Diana.

    • Coldbloodedjellydonut says:

      Favourite, yes, but just because he was entertaining. That’s what he could give to them, but they never gave to anyone unless they were directly asked (I’m thinking Andrew getting his mother to do things for him, Harry would never be so demanding and crass). I couldn’t see Harry causing a fuss, even if he did notice disparities it would have been mostly internal.

  6. Brassy Rebel says:

    I think the queen had a special affection for Harry because he could make her laugh. Even most family members did not think of her as a person like any other who needed a good laugh now and then. She is really beaming in that photo above with Meghan showing her Archie.

    As for how involved she was in making decisions or what was going on in the family, I thought even before her death, that Charles and William had basically taken over by just leaving her out of the loop. That’s how they roll. Harry seems to have developed a back channel.

    • Persephone says:

      💯 the photo above with QEII and Phillip had genuine enthusiastic smiles on both their faces. H&M seems to have made a genuinely affectionate relationship with both of them.

    • Mary Pester says:

      The genuine affection between Harry and the q was obvious for all to see. I so remember his passing out parade and the cheeky smile on Harry’s face and the twinkle in the Queen’s eye when she said “oh hello”, she knew it was his passing out parade but treated meeting him as a surprise. I would have loved to know what they said to each other later. And the video of them to launch the games with the “boom” scene was priceless . I think everyone is right, when Elizabeth died, Harry knew what lay in store so that when he climbed on board the plane back to the US he was saying goodbye in his heart to the lot of them
      With her gone, any sense of home there was lost. I also believe the rest of them “especially Billy bully and the chinless Charles) were deeply jealous of Harry and the Queen’s relationship. She didn’t know half of what was going on inside the palace as they kept her in the dark over the moves they were making. She was frail and mourning her husband and those selfish self centered bstds used those facts to THEIR own advantage. How they must have hated the fact that she insisted on making the statement that “Harry and meghan remain much loved members of the Royal family, and the fact that she, as one of her first acts after they left the UK was to appoint a diversity tsar. Harry don’t look back, don’t compromise because no matter what THEY say, your safe, happy and loved where you are and very, very soon the house of Windsor will fall

      • AnneL says:

        Charles was also jealous of his mother’s relationship with Andrew, and perhaps to a lesser degree Edward. I think because she had them later in life, and they were both “spares,” she was able to be easier and more affectionate with them.

        It is a shame that Charles didn’t get the love he needed from his mother as a child. That’s not his fault and I think it accounts for a lot of his selfishness and jealousy. But it’s no excuse for how he handled the situation with Meghan and Harry. It’s own thing to struggle to show love because you didn’t receive it yourself, but another thing entirely to be stingy with your own son and fail to protect him and his wife.

      • Kingston says:

        There was no diversity czar. BP might have stated that in a statement to the press but it never happened. H mentioned this in his book.

        Also, H said the Bee, the Fly and the Wasp were the ones running things at BP even when betty was alive. The Bee is EYoung; and either the Wasp or the Fly was that guy who was seconded to BP from Johnson’s govt (cant recall his name) and then a couple years later went on to become cabinet secy (and got caught lying about breaking covid rules during lockdown.)

  7. Heather says:

    I was struck by his admission that he’d never hugged his grandma (but had wanted to) and wondered if his father had ever tried to….probably not is what he decided. He admitted he heard his mother had tried once but the Queen awkwardly dodged her attempt. Another scene in the Crown proven to be true.

    The conclusion: nobody in that family hugged him after his mother died. She was the giver of hugs. That poor boy. What a remote, cold family. It’s like they’re robots.

    • Becks1 says:

      Is it any wonder he married someone who LOVES to give hugs and is very tactile and shows her affection very easily? He’d been starved of that kind of easy affection for decades.

      • MoBiMom says:

        This description of someone being tactile always interests me. Until I started consuming reporting on the British royal family, I’m not sure I’d ever heard a discussion of whether someone was tactile or not. I’m an American and a New England WASP, not the most expressive American culture, but even for us I think the the cultural norm is that we hug our friends and relatives. The idea that Harry was never hugged by a family member until he met Meghan and made his own family is really baffling to me. British CBers …. how common is this?

      • Sarah says:

        I thought the exact same thing after reading the book. No wonder he holds Megan’s hand every chance he gets! He was starved of affection for over twenty years.

      • The Hench says:

        @MoBiMom – generally I would say we are kissers rather than huggers. I would and do greet my parents-in-law with a kiss on each cheek. I would not hug them – too intimate.

        The same for clients or colleagues when meeting at work – not the team you see everyday but say a client you see once a month and know too well to shake hands – if you’re female that is. I then worked with an American team and worked out quickly that they were the other way round to us – hugs rather than kisses!

        If you are a British bloke then its handshakes for all the men, kisses on the cheek for the women and only a kiss for another man if he is your father, basically. For a close male friend then usually a handshake pulled into a quick one arm hug with some back slapping.

        But, honestly, there’s no hard and fast rules so it can be a minefield. I ended up once mistakenly planting a smacker on the lips of a very senior client because she went in for a hug as I went in for a cheek kiss. Awkward!

      • MoBiMom says:

        Thanks, @The Hench, that’s interesting to hear about and provides really useful context.

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:

        My family, one and all are huggers. My Mom grew up in an orphanage and that just wasn’t a thing. EVER. So she missed out on that and when she fell into my Dad’s family she got hugs from everyone. She determined that she would never hesitate to hug and here she is at 85 still doing it.
        I can guarantee she would have given Harry all the affection he wanted.

        I should add we’re from Texas and I’m pretty sure it goes for the rest of the South? MerlinsDad is from upstate NY and his family wasn’t big on showing ANY affection

      • Becks1 says:

        @MoBiMom lol I use that term (tactile) just because it seems to fit Meghan, I don’t use that term for a lot of people in general. But Meghan’s not just a hugger, she likes to touch people, she has a hand on someone’s arm as they’re talking, she touches someone’s back as they’re walking along, etc – derangers make a big deal about this with her and Harry like she’s afraid he’s going to run away or something (lol, that man is never leaving), but if you watch her with other people she’s always doing the same thing. I think its just how she communicates an connects with people.

        I’m american and I’m a hugger but my family really isn’t. I can’t remember the last time I hugged my mom or dad. I hug my one SIL and her parents more than my brothers and parents lol. Well I guess with my brothers we do lots of half-hugs at holidays and such. My family is just not very physically affectionate, but I am and my husband is and as a result our kids are.

        I do hug my friends though.

      • equality says:

        Even those families that aren’t big huggers of other adults usually still hug children. The RF just seems a step beyond. There is that video of TQ greeting a young PC after being away for an extended period and she shakes his hand. There are studies that show being hugged is good for mental health so probably very beneficial for PH to marry a hugger.

      • AnneL says:

        I’m not the most tactile person. My husband and children are huggers. I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I NEVER hug or touch my kids or others. I do it regularly, just not as often as they would like. I’m trying to be better about it. I just wasn’t raised in a very touchy family.

        It’s deeply weird to never hug your child or grandchild. This family is really screwy.

      • Lucky Charm says:

        @ The Hench, as an American I find it so confusing that a hug is considered more intimate than a kiss! That’s a fascinating cultural difference. I come from a family of huggers, we hug everyone, but kisses are only for family and very close friends!

    • MoBiMom says:

      @MerlinsMom1018– so glad your mom found your dad and his family!

  8. Ginger says:

    When I finished Spare, I saw it as more of a goodbye to the RF. The part at Phillips funeral where Will said “swear on mummy’s life” and Harry was just….done. He was done being abused and used (and Will could see it) He said he wanted to go home to California. Michael Strahan said Harry is realistic on never getting an apology or any kind of reconciliation.

    • Abby says:

      Yes, I saw it as a good-bye as well. I think he has come to a sort of peace that there will not be reconciliation, but at least he’s shared his side.

      • MoBiMom says:

        Agreed…. this was clearly one of those places where he decided not to provide all of the details, but the outcome sure seemed to be that he was just done with it.

      • Kara says:

        I agree. I also read this as a 400+ goodbye letter to that part of his family and to his former life.

        He also stated that America was home now in their documentary. He noted that Archie had only spent 5 months in England and that this was their home now. He even went as far in the documentary as to say that he’s living now where he believes his mother would’ve ended up.

        Between the book and the documentary, it’s almost like he’s said goodbye to Harry Windsor and is embracing life as Harry Spencer.

  9. C-Shell says:

    Oh, Kaiser, you made me cry again.

    I feel like Harry’s comments about the people around his grandmother — Paedrew, AK, Edward Young, et al. — were giving her poor guidance (to say the least), if not outright committing elder abuse, were dead on. I’m sure they were feeding the Queen lies, misinformation and keeping the reality of what was happening with H&M from her. In his own words, to Oprah, Corden, in Spare, it seems he and Meghan had a solid, probably clandestine, frequent line of communication with QEII, and Philip. Who knows how much insight he was able to share with his grandmother, but I feel like it was unconscionable that she had so little agency in her final years and that her “courtiers” were controlling and stymying her.

    I love the image Harry created of his babies with their great grandmother. 😭

  10. Snuffles says:

    I loved those little tidbits. I also think in her final years, the Queen was largely out of the loop and was just doing what she was told. Those courtiers only told her things when they absolutely HAD to.

    I’m sure Harry and Meghan took tons of pictures and videos of the Queen with their children. I’m sure those are cherished memories. I’m glad Harry got the opportunity to introduce his children to her. That was the main reason they came to the Jubilee. As evidenced that they severely limited the events they attended. Harry just did it for Granny.

    Now that she’s gone, he has very little motivation to return for any royal events. Not until they act right and give him his security back.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      The Queen was OLD, really old. She was probably often very tired. My father is 10 years younger than she was – and he complained about lacking energy even before his stroke. My maternal grandmother lived to 97 and while she was active for her age, she was also resting more than she was doing things.

    • windyriver says:

      No doubt it was a turning point for her as well when Philip officially retired in 2017. And very shortly after that was when Charles (and supposedly Andrew) was able to maneuver dumping Geidt as TQ’s private secretary and elevate Edward Young (alias the Bee) in his place.

  11. Becks1 says:

    I think in the last few years of her life, the Queen was delegating (either by choice or by force) a LOT to her staff and to Charles, so she was probably checked out on a lot of the details of what was happening with the Sussexes. We know that one of them (the Bee?) – Edward Young (I get the bug names confused lol) flat out lied to her at Sandringham about H&M’s requests for help and they were probably downplaying a lot about how bad the coverage and tabloid reports actually were. Like even if the Queen saw the tabloid headlines, she probably didn’t realize how bad things were on the talk shows, or on social media.

    It also seemed like a lot of decisions that were being made about H&M were being made at William’s level or Charles’ level, not the Queen’s level (maybe because of her age, maybe because Harry was Charles’ son, IDK). It sticks in my head that Harry had to call the Queen to ask for a bigger house but then mentions that some properties had been discussed but none really felt right (so he had been talking about it with other people before calling the Queen.) It seems like for anything “official” or Firm related, there was a hierarchy and he rarely went straight to the Queen -he went to KP, he went to his father, he went to the queen’s staff, etc.

    I think the benefit of this for the Queen – which I’m sure was at least partly intentional -is that it shielded the Queen from a lot of the unpleasant decisions that sometimes had to be made (not only talking about Harry here.) The Queen really did have plausible deniability about a lot and as a result, it sort of preserved her relationship with someone like Harry because he knew how little control she actually had and how much was being hidden from her.

    One of the most revealing parts to me was when he sat down with her at Sandringham and Charles and William both immediately came over. They did not want Harry talking to her at all. She also seemed like a pretty big nonentity at that Sandringham Summit. It seemed like Edward Young was running the show.

    IDK. I could understand after reading the book why Harry absolved her of so much, but then I also wonder if its because he absolved her that he wrote about her the way he did, you know?

    • lanne says:

      I’ll bet she had some dementia near the end. I think that people like Edward Young were openly speaking in her name. He was the Queen, not Elizabeth in the end. My guess is that harry deleted a lot of observations about that from his memoir. Those are revelations for another day.

      At her best, she was non-confrontational and mostly did as she was told. I’ll bet that they all resented Harry for actually having a loving relationship with her, which seems to be more than she had with Pegs and Jegs, and even more than she had with Chuckles.

    • Jais says:

      The part where Charles and William immediately came to sit so that Harry couldn’t talk with the queen was wild. I think it was the courtiers maybe EY that noticed and then whispered for them to go break up their moment. They were doing everything to keep them apart. To hide their lies? I’m not a massive fan of the queen, but with Harry seeing all these manipulations, it makes sense he was worried about her, as he said in that today show interview with Hoda.

    • Honey says:

      There is a line in the movie The Madness of King George where the king’s doctor tells George you will do XYZ. In essence, he gives the king a directive. In a rare moment of lucidity, King George replies says “sirrah, I tell; I am not told. I am the verb not the object.” I recently told my niece that as a monarch, QEII more than likely ended her reign like she began it—that is, with the men in gray suits telling her what to do simply because it seems evident to me that in her last years, especially with the lack of mobility, failing health, and diminished access to other (re)sources (e.g., her husband), she was definitely told. She was the object and not the verb.

    • Athena says:

      I think she was letting Charles decide because one, Harry was his son and two, Charles was the future king so any decision made about H&M would have more of an impact to Charles reign than hers. On some level she looked out for her own kids and probably expected Charles to look out for his kids.

      Happy about the love and affection between the two, but am I the only one wondering if she left him anything?

  12. Miranda says:

    I remember how many of us were rather anxious for Harry and Meghan when they decided to attend the Jubbly, worried (justifiably so, I think) about how they’d be treated. But thank God they were able to block out all the toxic crap coming at them from all sides, and give Archie and Lilibet a little time with their great-grandmother, whom their father clearly cherished.

    I really don’t know what to make of QEII anymore. She was a woman of contradictions, and it’s difficult to reconcile the sweet granny Harry could laugh and joke with, with the stubborn old lady who wouldn’t allow a religious service to honor the mother of her 2 grieving, traumatized grandsons. In the end, I guess Harry knew her better and understood her motives and reasoning more than we possibly could.

    • Mel says:

      I think in her own misguided way, QE2 thought she was protecting them. Remember, the Drs. lied to her Father about how bad his cancer was until they couldn’t lie any longer. The mindset is they think they’re protecting you from sadness, if it’s not in front of you, you won’t see it. Emotions also should be kept “indoors’ not for others to see. People still have that mindset, my Mother still does this and we just give her side eye or ignore her. Everything is a secret.

  13. L84Tea says:

    QEII to me came off as very not in the loop. Those courtiers were running her life, as was Charles. I’m certainly not excusing her–she could have and should have done more to help H&M, but I sincerely get the feeling she was very oblivious to how explosive the entire situation had become. Her reaction at the summit indicated she was simply checked out as the monarch.

  14. Anna says:

    All this reconciliation talk from H seems more and more like him putting the ball in BRF four knowing perfectly well it will stay there forever. If he said “sorry, they did too much evil to us, we are DONE” there would be forever crying “we soooo wanted to be a family but bad bad H is under M sex spell and he doesn’t want to see us again”.

  15. HarryforLife says:

    I had mixed feelings on how QE II came off. On the one hand, Harry made the case that despite his love for her, she made him nervous and in her presence the vibe was almost artificially tense. Even one-on-one, like when he was asking for permission to marry, when he was having issues with a neighbor or when Brat-genla would not furnish the tiara… I didn’t get the sense he felt just very comfortable talking to his own granny or advocating for himself. More than once he said he didn’t know whose side she would take… to me that speaks volumes.

    At then end, she may have been more frail, more granny, less monarch. But even in that super tense summit with the Fly/Wasp/Bee printer-gate, while she seemed surprised at their toil, she also didn’t assert herself to help Harry other than the “recollections may vary…” but they are “still beloved” members stuff.

    I think Harry made/makes excuses for his family. As far as surrogate moms go, QE II def was NOT one of them (she was barely a mom to anyone but Andrew) but maybe part of him wanted that badly enough, that he turned a blind eye to how little she did to help them, even if they had their – special, secret relationship.

    Agree with the statements above though, I’m glad Harry has the ability to give and receive love. Just wish he understood toxic love, though love, is still toxic.

    • SarahCS says:

      To your point about mixed feelings, I think that reflects the fact that for most of her life she had the job of queen 24/7, even when she wasn’t ‘on duty’ for something official she never stopped being The Queen and that filtered into every aspect of her being, as someone who (it sounds like) started out stuffy and unaffectionate, she lost the ability to be fully human by giving herself so wholeheartedly to what she saw as ‘service’. Given her age at the time, the era she was in, and the series of events that led to her becoming monarch, I’m not totally surprised but it is sad.

      • HarryforLife says:

        @SarahCS: yeah, the being “on” all the time I get. But the reality and Harry descriptions felt … incongruous. They had a special relationship, but she just sat there and let him and Meg get crucified. Meanwhile, as others have said, she went to bat for her son when needed. I honestly came away feeling like even IN the royal family, even if you felt like you were “close” with the queen, she was still distant, cold and selective in how/to whom she showed affection.

    • Arhena says:

      As little as it appears he received from her it was more than he received from anyone else. We can look at the affection and think, that’s not a lot, but to him it was everything.

      • HarryforLife says:

        @Athena: THIS. Completely agree, which just breaks my heart for Harry more than I can express.

  16. Flower says:

    I think it was pretty much impossible for Lilibet Snr to have had a close relationship with any of her family members as she was essentially the face of the institution.

    That is likely why she had Angela – the surrogate daughter to whom she could tell her woes and strifes to without interfering in family politics.

    I think like with most relationships, especially family ones there’s an unequal dynamic and likely Harry held his grandmother in a great deal of affection, but I really doubt the extent to which that was reciprocated. For sure she loved her grand children but there were so many and then her own children and then the great-grand children. I suspect she hardly knew George, Charlotte and even Louis.

    My thoughts are that those final years after Filip died became a blur for the queen as she fought her ailing body, and that’s why she found comfort in Harry he was away from it all and likely didn’t burden her with the administrative aspects of being a Royal.

    What would be interesting is seeing her will and seeing how much if anything went to Harry?

    • Surly Gale says:

      I’ve been thinking for awhile that Harry was/is likely blocked from receiving any of his rightful inheritance from his mum. And I’m willing to bet a loonie he will never see any of whatever his grandma left him. Same way Willy will be sure H does not get anything from Charles. They will keep him from his legitimate inheritances because that’s who they are! All for me and none for you.

    • Nic919 says:

      In order to bypass the inheritance tax, things need to pass from monarch to monarch. It is more than likely that Charles got every thing and that trusts were set up for various people prior to her death. It’s likely Philip set up trusts for his grandkids as well.

  17. dominique says:

    i think Harry had a blind spot for his grandma , in the same way he has a blind spot abt racism in the monarchy or the existence of a monarchy itself.
    the theory that the Queen was left out of the loop could have been plausible, but we ALL saw how she came in hard for Andrew, her favourite son.
    i think it is easier for Harry to think of her as being controlled by courtiers than it would be for him to admit that his beloved grandma cared more about protecting her pedophile son than her grandson who married a WOC. Anything else is just fairy tales. She didnt give a shit about Harry’s family, the “i thought the kids would be more american” comment, says a great deal about she thought of them and probably Meghan in particular.

    • Snuffles says:

      Andrew was a constant presence in the Queen’s life telling her he was innocent and it was all lies. He visited her almost daily. Versus Charles who probably only saw her when he had to. So I’m not surprised she caped hard for him.

      • Becks1 says:

        Also, again – back to the idea of a hierarchy. Andrew was HER son so she was in charge of him and she had the final say. Harry was Charles’ son so I think she thought that a lot of the issues were more for Charles to deal with than her, or Harry went to his father before her.

        I also said yesterday that I think Andrew had a lot more direct contact with her (think of her popping in for lunch with him and Fergie and their daughters etc – how many times did she do that on the way back from church? There did not seem to be any courtiers in the room.) so it was easier for him to convince her of his side, his version of the story.

      • Dominique says:

        Wasnt Harry living at Frogmore at the time and wasnt the Queen spending a lot of time at Windsor. Honestly this is more than just geolocation. The Queen sat at the sandringhan summit and didnt say a word not because she was being manipulated but because she didn’t see this as her problem for sure. I can see the hierarchy in your comment Becks1 but it also means that it was a choice

      • Becks1 says:

        @Dominique yes Harry was at Frogmore but not for very long. They didnt move there until spring 2019 and the summit was January 2020. The queen would have been in Scotland for maybe two months out of that time, and then H&M were in Canada for a month or two, plus their trip to South Africa, etc. I think by the time they moved to Frogmore things were set in motion in terms of the Firm being very “firmly” anti-Sussex and trying to drive them out. Remember Harry had already proposed moving out of england part time by Easter of that year. But, it wasn’t just a matter of “geolocation.” I said Andrew had a lot more direct contact with her and I think that was true. If Harry had a problem, he needed to run it up the hierarchy. If Andrew had a problem, he just called Mummy.

        I think its patently clear in the memoir that the Queen was VERY easily manipulated by her staff – by Edward Young, by Angela Kelly, etc. I don’t think that absolves her, and I do think letting her staff run things was a choice for her. But it seems it was a choice she made at 25, so of course as she aged it just got worse and worse.

        And again, she was almost 94 at the time of the summit, her husband (who ran the family) was not doing well, Charles was trying to take over, etc. It’s clear how it easy it would to be to manipulate anyone in those circumstances.

        I do think Harry has a blind spot for her and I do think she could have done more, but I don’t think Harry was completely naive when she was concerned, although I know some people keep insisting she was. He was the one who was there, he is going to know the truth of the situation better than us, even with a blind spot.

    • Sunshine says:


    • Sue E Generis says:

      Agreed. I think the Queen has been held up by Harry as his one true familial bond. It’s not true, of course, but I think it’s because she’s the only one whose remoteness could be justified. He could say to himself, ‘well, my family doesn’t care about me, but granny does. The only reason she’s remote is because she has to be. She’s the Queen.” I think he needs to hold on to that fantasy because to be absolutely rejected by his entire family is too much to process.

  18. bitsycs says:

    I think she was largely delegating/out of the loop in the past 5-10y, and I suspect she always left H/W decisions largely to Charles. QEII was rather generous with her own children who weren’t the heir – the way Harry was treated smacks of Charles making those decisions imo or at least Charles being a conduit for those decisions, rarely direct to granny and even then I suspect Charles was always in the loop.

    I grew up in a family business my grandparents owned until I was an adult (when my mom and aunt bought the business) and despite my grandmother being in charge and the owner, she always always always deferred to my mom when it came to my mom’s kids. My mom decided our schedule, my mom dealt with any issues, etc. My grandmother refused to ever get in between any of that despite being the one who was actually in charge. She did the same with my cousins/aunt.

    I think toward the end she was hands off, but I also think she always mostly left Harry to Charles. William, she was maybe more involved with, as he was the heir. But I think it’s pretty clear, she took a hands off approach as the “firm” with regards to Harry.

    • Becks1 says:

      This is exactly how I think the dynamic was. The queen was in charge of her children (well more or less) and they were in charge of their children. Harry was part of Charles’ “court” so to speak, not hers (at least not directly.)

  19. Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

    @Kaiser, the last paragraph of this article is beautiful! The last couple of lines brought a tear to my eye 🥺

  20. Maeve says:

    Other than his colouring Harry looks like Prince Philip, which I reckon made HM especially fond of him. I suspect like many she was a better grandparent than parent – all the grandkids seem to have been very fond of both her and the DofE.

    • CourtneyB says:

      I’ve always maintained Harry’s resemblance to Philip, even in those years of Hewitt speculation. Especially as a child he looked a good deal like Philip’s father Andrew did at similar ages. Harry also had Philip’s cheeky, irreverent humor; he was a military man forced to resign; athletic; butted heads with the Grey Men especially when he tried to modernize the monarchy; was treated like crap by some members of the extended family especially the queen mother’s awful brother David Bowes Lyon. Biographer Gyles Brandreath wrote that Philip disagreed with leaving but he understood it and wished them well. I don’t doubt Philip looked a bit wistfully on it knowing his own issues decades prior. I definitely think he understood why they made the choice they did. Things may have been different had Philip not retired and been relatively sidelined by I’ll health. It’s ironic that the two oldest, most seemingly old fashioned of the family were the ones by all account, including Harry and Meghan, the most welcoming and supportive.

  21. Jazz Hands says:

    I wonder if the Queen was essentially forced to choose between protecting Andrew or Harry, which obviously would be a no-brainer for her. Maybe those around her convinced her if anything was done to quash the negative Sussex stories, Andrew would become the next target.

    But then I think perhaps she didnt really like Meghan, despite the nice stories we’ve heard. Harry said every room of every royal residence had the tabloids laid out each day and were read by the family. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Queen believed the headlines which, not coincidentally, would have been parroted by Charles, William, staff et al.

  22. Lara (the other) says:

    I got the impression QE2 had an extremly sheltered existence and never had a real reality check. She was surrounded by courtiers and never questioned their twisted version of reality or if the courtiers had their ebst interessts at heart (thy didn’t).
    I can imagine in her reality the problems weren’t that bad, and when everything came crashing down she was overwelmed, also due to her advanced age, and did what she did her whole life, belive was was told to her.
    I think that was the reason, why they tried to keep Harry away, the only opportunity to influence the queen would have been personal, and they did not want to risk it.
    This would also fit with the pedrow debakle, he had acsses and used it for his gain.

    It’r a pattern that can happen with weak leaders, they sorround themselves with people who are good at manipulationg and create their reality for them and are completly lost, when everything crashes down. A fried of mine often says, she has one of the most powerfull jobs in our country, assistant to a ministe. She curates the news and mail he gets to see. Basically creates his reality what she thinks he should see. Thats a similiar pattern.

  23. JMoney says:

    QEII priority for all of her life was the monarchy and everything else was secondary. However I think esp in her twilight years she realized what a mistake it was to put family second over the monarchy and was trying to mend her family.
    It explains why she had a soft spot for Andrew (however undeserved).
    But ultimately for QEII monarchy was her priority though she loved her family including Harry but never enough to prioritize him over the crown.

  24. Emily_C says:

    Someone above said Lizzy liked Harry because he could make her laugh. That’s how I see it too. She liked people who could entertain her. As soon as anyone wanted any kind of emotional work or mutual connection from her, though, she slammed shut. Chuck is like this too. Love is supposed to go one way — toward the monarch. They do not give.

  25. Luna says:

    Wish I could’ve hugged 12 year-old Harry. He looked so lost & heartbroken.
    It would be so wonderful to see a photo of Archie & Lili with The Queen.

  26. Sally says:

    I don’t believe for a second that the queen wasn’t aware of the problems Meghan was going through, because she was quick to defend Boris Johnson’s mistress when she got pregnant and people were riduculing her online. So she was aware, but she didn’t care enough to stand up for Meghan. We should stop humanizing that woman, she was awful and her kids are proof of her awfulness.

    • Kel says:

      Was that the Queen or was it Edward young working with his bff Simon case?
      I think this was more the courtiers speaking through the Queen.

    • Carty says:

      This! I remember how awful she was to Diana. They blatantly ignored her death until the public almost revolted over it. I was not surprised from Harry’s book there was no mention of ‘granny’ comforting him when his mom died. They used the boys as cover for not having to come out in public and act sad about it, because they weren’t. No one close to her has ever dared uttered a bad word about her because it wasn’t allowed. Just wasn’t done. It will be interesting to see in 5-10 years if more stories about her coldness and indifference to her family come out.

  27. MrsBanjo says:

    I get the impression that aside QEII was out of the loop longer than was reported as the “soft Regency.” That Harry was able to manage back channels to her is quite impressive in and of itself. She clearly had a lot of affection for him, and I think there are a number of reasons for that. She was known to lack the ability to show it in ways most are used to, as demonstrated how literally hands off she was with her kids – especially Charles and Anne (terrible parenting – kids need parents who aren’t aloof, and it’s obvious Charles needed engaged parents).

    I did find the bit in the book about Frogmore interesting. Very different than what nearly everyone thought, including myself.

  28. Ace says:

    My feeling is that Harry is charming and not even Liz could stop herself being charmed by him. He clearly loved her and respected her, and he worked on having a nice relationship with her as his grandma even before leaving the UK so that meant there was something important there by the time they left and weren’t part of the family bussiness.

    Harry has mentioned before he didn’t trust the people at the palace had the Queen’s best interests at heart, and I’m sure that plays a big part on why he paints her in the book as very absent and out of touch with what was happened. I bet there’s also a part of being mindful of not critizising her too much since she’s still a very popular figure. But yeah, it’s clear that she wasn’t a present grandmother which, since she wasn’t a present mother either, is not really a surprise.

  29. Lissen says:

    How did the queen come across in Spare? In one word, surprising.

    I grew up and still live in a Commonwealth country. Every morning, at opening exercises in school, we stood beside our desks and sang “God Save the Queen” to her picture on the wall. Her picture was on the wall in every government building, every public building, and even in people’s offices. To me, from a child’s viewpoint, she wasn’t real. She’s a picture on the wall. And later on, when I had access to money, her picture was on the money. She’s also a picture on my money.

    So Harry having a human relationship with her was just … surprising. Oh, she’s capable of laughing and even interacting with her grandson?! She’s not just a picture. Surprising.

  30. Lionel says:

    Agree with the consensus that Harry’s bond to the family dissolved when the Queen died. But to answer Kaiser’s question, I was “bemused” myself over her portrayal in the book. Lots of contradictions. Like, “we’re so close, but I’d never been near any of her bedrooms.” (OK, easier done in a series of palaces, but still.) Or “we’re so close, but I couldn’t find a time to ask her permission to get married.” (And her reaction was weird.) Not one word about the Queen during Harry’s biggest plot point, learning of Diana’s death at Balmoral. I finished the book with the impression that the Queen was imperious and remote, that her “special relationship” with Harry consisted mostly of stilted small talk, and that -poor Harry!- this frostiness is what is considered “close” in the BRF.

    • Dominique says:

      Exactly! Not one of the comments Harry has attributed to her in the book comes across as warm or loving. Even when he asked if he could marry her, she says “i suppose i have to say yes”. Even he is puzzled by it and chooses to brush it away. She says here that she thought the kids would be more American with the implication that American means noisy and rambunctious. Imagine what she thought of Meghan who didn’t know how to curtsy.

    • Carty says:

      I’m guessing his interaction with her during the time his mom died would not shed her in the best light. Even he had to know that, especially being a parent now himself. There’s a reason it’s not mentioned.

      • Jais says:

        Actually he mentions the flag controversy at the time of his moms death and seems to defending the queen.

  31. Well Wisher says:

    Harry and his grandmother’s relationship was special to the end.
    As indicated by the Goodbye(s)/( Good-bye(s) in their last telephone conversation.

    Depending on the closenes, there will be a need to call in a special event, happy and sad, then the reminder that is no longer a reality.

    The hardest part is that the love has been become easily accessible via our senses transferred to memories.
    It can evoke our vulnerabilities, our strength.

    We carry on because the newly departed would not have it any other way.
    Humans love imperfectly because we are imperfect, but in the of times it is enough.

    That is what Harry shared with his grandmother in their familial relationships.
    With hindsight and time provides as emotional distance ; he will realize that she help set his employment life free from a life of intolerably dysfunction,

    I get a sense that he was aware that she loved him as best as she could.
    It is a good way to avoid the trap of bitterness.
    Once again, he was loved despite the unique but universal circumstances of our shared humanity.

    Understandable, they will be hugging their children, expressing their love in their own way.

  32. QuiteContrary says:

    I thought it was interesting that the queen gave Harry permission to keep his beard for the wedding but withheld it from William (she was doing William a favor, because his beard made him look like an emo country singer).

    She did this partly because Harry looked even more like Philip with facial hair — and partly because Harry was the spare. But I hope — hope — at least it was partly out of genuine affection for Harry. Because he sure loved her.

    (As for William’s reaction to this decision, that was pure insanity.)

  33. Leah says:

    I think The Queen was in her 90s, recently widowed and was really out of most issues. She was there to listen but the more ya read the book it is shocking that the Royals listen so much to these advisors but add in whatever lies Chuck & Wm we’re saying who knows what she could even understand. I’m glad that Harry was still able to have grandson role if nothing else.

  34. Jaded says:

    The Queen did everything by the book, even though doing things by the book meant level after level of protocol, rules which had to be followed strictly and coordinated through the courtiers. Sort of like a government bureaucracy on steroids. That’s why she came across as cold and detached after Diana’s death, she was only following the “rules”. Obviously Harry understood that, as head of state, and taking her role very seriously, she couldn’t let herself be a normal “gran”, but he managed to break through that ironclad resolve of hers a little bit to bring out her warmth and humour. He’s probably the only one, aside from Andrew, who could do that and she let him have a special place in her heart.

  35. blue says:

    I don’t think Liz ever did much except pose for pics as The Head of the great British Commonwealth. She liked the pomp & ceremonial displays, all costumed up & maybe on a horse when possible. She waltzed around from one castle to another with everyone bowing & scraping, having her first alcoholic bev of the day before lunch followed by at least 3 more by dinnertime, sitting for a few minutes with the Red Box from the PM. (Her mother liked generous servings of gin – maybe a functional alcoholic?) Did Liz ever exercise any real power? No. She believed what her “advisors” (dozens of them) told her & did what they recommended. She believed their interpretations of everything because it was easier than actually researching & thinking for herself. Remember, she was no mental giant. Margaret was smarter. Liz got the luck of the elder child and learned to play boss even when decisions were based on zero or incorrect information. Facts? What are those? Whatever Queenie decides they are. British monarchs are strictly for show & the public believes that they are good & necessary for tourism. Yup. I visit England expecting to bump elbows with a royal? Makes no difference to me if they exist or not but I wouldn’t mind buying a velvet cape or 2 at a warehouse sale, like when opera companies sell off used costumes, to be my permanent halloween & Mardi Gras outfit.

  36. candy says:

    I’m so envious! My grandmother died when I was 6. I would have LOVED to know her as an adult. I can just imagine the types of conversations we would have had and all the questions I would ask her.