‘Spare’: The Windsors regularly freak out about annual event numbers

Just before the holidays in 2013, Prince Harry participated in a Walking with the Wounded trek to the South Pole. He loved it, and I loved his descriptions (in Spare) of some of the amazing journeys he’s taken over the years. In late 2013, this would have been months after Prince William and Kate welcomed George, and there were conversations about how little they worked, how they just hid out in Norfolk and no one ever saw them. Harry wrote in Spare that the big conversation that Christmas (2013) was about the Court Circular:

It was largely to do with the Court Circular, that annual record of “official engagements” done by each member of the Royal Family in the preceding calendar year. Sinister document…

The Court Circular was an ancient document, but it had lately morphed into a circular firing squad. It didn’t create the feelings of competitiveness that ran in my family, but it amplified them, weaponized them. Though none of us ever spoke about the Court Circular directly, or mentioned it by name, that only created more tension under the surface, which built invisibly as the last day of the calendar year approached. Certain family members had become obsessed, feverishly striving to have the highest number of official engagements recorded in the Circular each year, no matter what, and they’d succeeded largely by including things that weren’t, strictly speaking, engagements, recording public interactions that were mere blips, the kinds of things Willy and I wouldn’t dream of including. Which was essentially why the Court Circular was a joke. It was all self-reported, all subjective. Nine private visits with veterans, helping with their mental health? Zero points. Flying via helicopter to cut a ribbon at a horse farm? Winner!

[From Spare by Prince Harry]

It’s interesting that he points out that the Court Circular is “self-reporting” – as in, the events that count are the ones put into the circular by royals and their staff – and that there’s a competition within the family about doing the most events. I would imagine that, for many years, that competition was between Anne and Charles, since they always did the most. It was never a competition with the younger royals, since Will and Kate were always so epically lazy. It’s also hilarious that Harry writes, “the kinds of things Willy and I wouldn’t dream of including.” Au contraire, Kensington Palace changed their “event” rules so that they could pad William and Kate’s numbers soon after this. Seriously, nowadays, both Will and Kate have “private meetings” and “phone calls with such-and-such charity” on the court circular.

Soon after this passage in Spare, Harry described the fights he had with William over Harry’s desire to do more in Africa, specifically on conservation and environmental issues.

One small problem: Willy. Africa was his thing, he said. And he had the right to say this, or felt he did, because he was the Heir. It was ever in his power to veto my thing, and he had every intention of exercising, even flexing, that veto power.

We’d had some real rows about it, I told Teej and Mike. One day, we almost came to blows in front of our childhood mates, the sons of Emilie and Hugh. One of the sons asked: Why can’t you both work on Africa? Willy had a fit, flew at this son for daring to make such a suggestion. Because rhinos, elephants, that’s mine! It was all so obvious. He cared less about finding his purpose or passion than about winning his lifelong competition with me.

Over several more heated discussions, it emerged that Willy, when I’d gone to the North Pole, had sadly been resentful. He’d felt slighted that he hadn’t been the one invited. At the same time he also said that he’d stepped aside, gallantly, that he’d permitted me to go, indeed that he’d permitted all my work with wounded soldiers. I let you have veterans, why can’t you let me have African elephants and rhinos?

I complained to Teej and Mike that I’d finally seen my path, that I’d finally hit upon the thing that could fill the hole in my heart left by soldiering, in fact a thing even more sustainable—and Willy was standing in my way. They were aghast. Keep fighting, they said. There’s room for both of you in Africa. There’s need for you both.

[From Spare by Prince Harry]

First of all, “Willy had a fit, flew at this son for daring to make such a suggestion.” How many family friends have witnessed or been subjected to Willaim’s violent rage? Because it keeps coming up. And William whining and raging about his brother ALSO doing work in Africa is, as Harry writes, pure jealousy and pure immaturity. William was what? Well into his 30s when he was raging with jealousy over his brother’s charitable work.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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63 Responses to “‘Spare’: The Windsors regularly freak out about annual event numbers”

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  1. Seaflower says:

    Willie had plenty of time to set up charities himself in Africa or wherever and didn’t want to until Harry did. Tells you all you need to know,

    • tour malinn says:

      I am beginning to get the idea that Harry got soo used to being overlooked by his father and bullyed by his brother that Meghan was the first real thing in his life that he trully fought for against these two. And just this sensation – that he is fighting for something real, something that is truly his – gave him the strength and confidence to break away.

    • Yup, Me says:

      Now it’s clear that the Earthsh!t prize is Willy’s effort to claim the whole entire planet for himself.

      • TheFarmer'sWife says:

        Have any of the winners received their awards yet? Where are the monthly updates and/or indepth heavily publicised newsletters about the winners and how their award-winning projects are progressing with the help and unwavering kindness of the Good Prince Peggy? Why isn’t Baldemort publicising his weekly zoom meetings with these heroes of the earth? It would be exceptionally good publicity, non? I’ll never understand the mental state of someone (with the ability to do so much more) who sets up a charity for supposedly the greater good…and then makes it all about them? Narcissism is a big word but not large enough to cover what mentally ails Willy Wanker! Showing up empty-handed, offering limp handshakes, without prepared talking points, weakly-worded questions, and not thinking before speaking (I’m looking at you, “I make a mean steak”), I mean I’d expect this from an entirely uneducated person who never had access to the best educations. What a goon show!

  2. Brassy Rebel says:

    Padding their numbers for the Court Circular is such a royal tradition that it’s probably protocol now.

    I really hope to live to see the day that someone gives a complete account of William’s many rages and assaults on innocent people.

    • Lorelei says:

      @Brassy Rebel, SAME. We know that everything always comes out eventually, but I really do hope that when it comes to William, this happens sooner rather than later (and definitely within my lifetime!).

      @Seaflower: exactly.

    • Kingston says:

      I have no doubt that info about BullyBoyWilly’s INCANDESCENT RAGES at all and sundry, is in the 400 pages that H had to scuttle because the book was over 800 pgs and they had to cut it down to just over 400.

      But as H said, charlesDaTURD and BullyBoyWilly would “never forgive [me]” if he were to make that stuff public.

      HOWEVER, if the palaces and the britshidtmedia continue to F*CK AROUND with their hate campaign against Harry’s wife, theyre gonna FIND OUT stuff they wont want the public to know about.

      • Jennifer says:

        Yeah, you’re like, how much worse can it get? I presume a certain neighborhood flower would be involved, but seriously, at what point does it get MORE unforgivable?!

  3. Polo says:

    This reminds me of when Harry got to speak at the UN and soon after William and his staff were obsessed about getting anywhere near the UN even though he wasn’t actually invited. Same as his obsession with taking American last year. Everything Harry does William wants to do but fails.

  4. Lorelei says:

    They’ll somehow turn this into, “Harry attacks Anne!” since she always has the highest numbers (along with KFC).

  5. BW says:

    Africa is a large continent and two white boys are fighting over it. While Harry seems to have wanted to help people, all Willy wanted was elephants and rhinos?

    • equality says:

      Of course. What Willy really wants is for African people to not have so many children so he can enjoy the continent more.

      • Blue Nails Betty says:

        This. Willy considers Africa his playground. The people of Africa hold no interest for him. Colonizers gonna colonize.

    • Imara219 says:

      The way Harry describes Africa is annoying. It’s not a good look for either brother.😬

      • Kingston says:

        What way is that, pray tell?

      • A says:

        I have to say I agree. ‘Africa’ with its elephants and rhinos -needs- Harry. It’s his passion. I think it’s clear that this was written to explain one of the brothers’ many feuds and not as a treatise on Harry’s views about the continent; his actions show he cares about people and loves the places he’s been. But yeah, nobody in this story is respecting the continent of Africa as a diverse place of 54 countries each with its own issues and heroes and plans for the future.

      • kirk says:

        I am glad Meghan was allowed to narrate the Disney Elephants documentary. It was beautiful, educational, and appeared to be respectful of human inhabitants in migration path.

    • Jennifer says:

      “Africa is big enough for the both of you” is the best response to this. If Willy wanted to do some animal charity thing, I presume he could have set one up.

  6. OriginalRose says:

    I wondered if you’d cover this bit. I think I’m at about the same place as you in the book. I also found I really interesting when Harry pretty much says that Charles is in control of how many events they do (or effectively blocks them doing too many)… I know it’s not news but Charles sounds like such a piece of work, imagine being worried your own suns will get more attention than you and therefore blocking them from doing too much or sabotaging them so they don’t look so good in the press.
    I’m really enjoying the book. Amazon just refunded me the price of it for some reason, win win for me! lol

    • Jsc says:

      Yes! I thought that was fascinating – I never thought about it that way. How Charles can basically control what his children/employees can and cannot do and then use that against then

    • equality says:

      I wonder if he will make Anne take her numbers down now since he is in charge.

    • Abby says:

      I keep thinking about that part of the book, and I’m glad you brought it up. It doesn’t make me like William any more than I do, but the fact that Charles had control–and let the press call him “workshy willie” just… he’s such a bad dad. Really. So short-sighted.

      • Ihatepeople says:

        Yes, Charles is such a TERRIBLE father and person (thanks Queen, you were a terrible mother and a complete failure). No wonder William is awful. It’s really astonishing how Harry was able to break free. I admire him so much.

    • Jennifer says:

      The big surprise here was that Harry said they were literally financially limited as to what they could do.

      I still laughed at “WIlly and I would never pad our numbers” though. Well, maybe WIlly didn’t used to, but it sure sounds like he does now.

  7. Lionel says:

    The Court Circular thing is major shade thrown at Anne, right? He doesn’t have trouble calling Charles out by name in the rest of the book.

  8. Jais says:

    The whole fighting over Africa conversation makes me really uncomfortable. Harry wanted to start a charity and it becomes a fight over who gets the continent. Wtf. Gross. Also, William being insulted that he wasn’t asked to do that North Pole trek while Harry was. And that he’d allowed Harry to work with veterans. Everything about this is disturbing.

    • Athena says:

      It is disturbing that in the 21st century two white men, both in line to the British throne, thinks that the continent of Africa is theirs to fight over and parcel out.

    • Lorelei says:

      @Jais, ITA. I was cringing even reading it. That “family” is so beyond dysfunctional that it’s unsettling.

    • Imara219 says:

      Fully agree with all.of.this.

    • Jennifer says:

      Willy doesn’t work with vets, right? Why would he be asked?

      Actually, would Britain even allow the heir to go to the North Pole?

  9. Concern Fae says:

    Just want to laugh, but it’s all too sad.

    A huge mistake was made with the whole we’re providing value for the tax dollars spent. It means that they are constantly judged and found wanting. They’ve given their critics the tools to hammer themselves with, as well as destroying the intrinsic motivation for doing these events – duty, wanting to see the people, appreciation for the hard work people are doing… just a mess. And so bound by tradition that they find it hard to reinvent themselves every generation the way they need to.

    • Lorelei says:

      @Concern Fae, this is such an excellent comment. You’ve summed it up perfectly. They’ve created a real mess for themselves, and it’s gotten to the point where lives are literally being completely ruined over this BS. Thankfully Harry GTFO, but I already feel so, so sorry for William’s children, knowing what’s coming for them if something doesn’t change.

  10. kyliegirl says:

    The court circular is definitely a dig at his father and Aunt Anne. Maybe also Camilla with the horse farm comment. It also seems to be a response to Anne’s interview when she criticized the “younger” royals method of “working” and in her eye’s recklessly trying to reinvent the wheel.

    William could have done a lot of things, but he was waiting for them to be given to him. There was an interview with a soldier talking about getting the notification that a Wales was going to be joining his unit. Upon hearing it was Harry, he expressed relief because word was the other Wales put on airs and expected preferential treatment. The military is very small and word gets around quickly. I am sure this is why Willy was not asked to go to the north pole.

  11. Becks1 says:

    LOL William and Kate learned really fast how to pad their numbers though, didn’t they? In his (very limited) defense I’ll say that I don’t think William pads his quite as egregiously as Kate does. Like his meetings seem to be legitimate meetings; Kate’s calendar is full of “held an Early Years Meeting” and “phone call with Jason Knauf” or something. But he does certainly pad it in a way that I don’t think Harry realizes lol.

    As for Charles controlling how much they work – eh. I have to wonder if that was about Harry putting his own feelings on William. Like even if Charles was controlling how much they work – he’s not now. Now they have their own budget. And William has done three events in January. I just don’t think either William or Kate were feuding with Charles to please let them work more, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. And Harry was able to get plenty of work done, even if it didn’t all count in the CC. I don’t think he was ever called lazy the way William has been.

    ETA and for the whole “fighting over Africa” thing – yikes. At least Harry seems invested emotionally in Africa and seems to genuinely love all of it and enjoys his time there. William is ranting about rhinos and elephants but what has he ever actually done for them, besides the Tusk Trust? I think the only official visit he’s done to Africa was to Kenya as a cover for Jecca’s brother’s wedding or something. Edward has done more official trips there than William.

    • windyriver says:

      “I just don’t think either William or Kate were feuding with Charles to please let them work more…And, Harry was able to gt plenty of work done, even if it didn’t all count in the CC.”

      Exactly. Harry managed to find a way to do what he wanted. Maybe he had a few clashes with Charles along the way about dialing it back, given how popular he was. Though, didn’t Harry also say in TMYCS that HE was the one that was always getting sent all over the place, to the point that he had burnout. I’m confident Charles didn’t have to worry about holding Will and Kate back from anything. They appear to be lazy, unskilled (especially Kate), thoughtless (see: Will and his steaks), and their initiatives poorly planned (see: Caribbean flop tour). No reason to think this isn’t an accurate picture.

      I’d say I can’t believe these people sit around competing about how many events they have on their annual tallies, but – just when you think as a group they couldn’t get more pathetic…

  12. LB says:

    In the Elizabeth at 90 documentary, in certain segments, Harry and William sit together and react to various home videos or videos of family events/milestones. I recommend watching these segments in light of Harry’s revelations about his relationship with William. One segment shows them reacting to a video of the Queen & Prince Philip meeting Harry’s Walking with the Wounded South Pole teammates. The Queen giggles at Harry’s jokes. She and Prince Philip look proud and interested. They appeared happy to take the time to meet the team. Cut to William in the reaction, sitting there with Harry. William says very little, looks uncomfortable and perhaps is a bit jealous. The documentary included no similar video of William’s charity activities. It is just so interesting to have a look at these types of interactions after having read Harry’s book.

    • Steph says:

      I don’t think I’ve seen the Queen interact with any other member of her family with such obvious pride and joy. Is there evidence of her getting involved with anyone else’s union Royal project like she did to promote IG? I also remember a video of her showing up for him opening a garden her designed. He was so excited and she looked genuinely proud. It seems she was the only one who showed him how had value.

      • booboocita says:

        I will always love that video of her and Harry responding to the Obamas for the Invictus Games.

        TQ: “Oh, really. Please.”

        Harry: “BOOM.”

  13. OriginalMich says:

    All those extra sausages turned Willy into a right entitled asshole.

  14. Molly says:

    So, in the 10 years since, what has Willy done to help the elephants and rhinos, exactly?

    If this is a display of his “passion” work, well. There you go.

  15. Cerys says:

    Some royals might be competitive over the yearly tally of events but it certainly doesn’t inspire others to do more.
    As for Willy demanding nobody else is allowed to “have” Africa, words fail me ……..

    • Lorelei says:

      And even when William talks about Africa, it’s always centered around, “So my children will be able to enjoy the same wonderful experiences in Africa that I have been able to.” It’s not that he has a genuine desire to help; he’s being driven (well, as “driven” as Willy is capable of being, lmao) by completely small-minded, short-sighted, selfish reasons.

      I also think a lot of it was about protecting his excuse to be able to visit Jecca whenever he wanted, under the guise of Tusk Trust work.

      I cannot imagine how frustrating this must have been for Harry.

  16. Amy Bee says:

    Harry and Meghan didn’t make any entries on the court circular during their last week as working royals.

  17. Pat says:

    Harry led a tour this year for African Parks after he stepped back It was a group of American politicos NGOs and corporate types It got rave reviews and Sen Chris Coons of Delaware wrote a very flattering piece

  18. DeepFriedDallasite says:

    At first I was feeling a way that Harry didn’t flay his brother directly in Spare (even with the understanding that there were legal reasons to not do so), but I’ve come to appreciate the subtle approach that he’s taken with Bulliam and the BM and BaRF. Kind of like the proverbial frog in the pot of water who since the heat is turned up gradually doesn’t realize they’re being cooked. They f*cked around and are slowly finding out that playing in Harry’s face was never a smart idea.

    • Becks1 says:

      I agree. I think Harry viewed his brother, growing up, with a mix of frustration, sympathy, and love. I think he views him differently now. One of the things in the book that I think is SO well done is that we view William as a teenager the way young Harry viewed him, but also with juuuuuust enough of current Harry that the pot starts to warm up, to go with your analogy. And as they get older, we get more and more current Harry’s perspective on William, and the heat keeps cranking up.

      so while my first impression was that overall Harry was going too easy on William (besides the assault story), I actually don’t think he went easy on him at all. There are SO many of these casual little tidbits about William thrown in there to really paint a very negative picture of him.

      He’s the Heir, and he thinks he should always be treated as such, by everyone. He’s used to ordering people around – Harry, probably his other cousins, etc. No one ever seems to say no to him. He is entitled, arrogant, lazy, petulant, cold, petty, angry and manipulative.

      it’s overall a very disturbing picture of him.

  19. Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

    Since Willy “won custody” of Africa, what exactly has he done there? Harry’s made multiple visits, working with conservation groups and more recently taking a group of American lawmakers there. When was the last time Willy’s been there? The last time I can recall is when he attended Jecca’s wedding thus missing Charlottes first Easter.

    • Roo says:

      What did he offer to the Ukrainian refugees when visiting them? The “occasional smile and pat on the back”? That’s all he can give to Africa – you know, the monolithic country somewhere out there that he called dibs on.

  20. Rapunzel says:

    So Willy attacked one of the Van Cutsem boys? Wtaf?

    • QuiteContrary says:

      Yep. A real journalist would investigate the reports of William’s rage and interview his many victims.

      • Jennifer says:

        That’s assuming anyone wants to come out against the heir in the news. That would not go well for them.

  21. Well Wisher says:

    A fishbowl is not a natural habitat even if it is golden.
    With provisions readily available to some, the need to complete should abate, instead it has intensified.

    This article is exhibit A.

  22. Emily_C says:

    Unlike most abusers, Willy seems to have no control over his rage. I think there’s something really deeply wrong with him and he needs a psychiatrist. Someone with an MD. This is not an attempt to insult him — if there’s something mentally/physically (not really much difference) on the fritz, and he needs medication to sort it out, that’s no worse than needing insulin for diabetes or something. Though I have a feeling even that would be considered shameful in this horrid family.

  23. Rnot says:

    What other quantifiable performance metrics do they have? Of course they (and their staff) are fixated on it to prove their worth.

  24. Emily says:

    The number of events is meaningless. What matters is the impact of the work. 100 ribbon cuttings is less significant than 100 hours of office work and behind the scenes stuff that turns into something real like IG.

  25. Vexxy says:

    On the one hand, Harry obviously has a blind spot when it comes to his brother. Everyone with any love for their siblings will have some blind spots. But I also think that when Harry says something positive about William that contradicts our personal head canon we can’t just immediately write it off as a blind spot.

    Much of William’s awfulness is objective because it’s been documented in an unbiased way (such as on camera) in its proper context. But a lot of behaviour we attribute to William is based on guessing, or on far more subjective sources, like the interpretation of body language or a photograph, or a story from a pro-Sussex source.

    I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think we should believe Harry for the most part. Yes, he has some strong personal biases but he also actually knows William. We don’t. Also, it’s very possible William has changed over the years and his account was fairly accurate at the time, but things aren’t the same any more. I think it’s indisputable William could always be awful but he got more awful and more entitled over time.

    Personally, the book made me take a step back and think of Will as a whole person, and not just the kind of moustache-twirling evil guy he is in my head. I still think he’s awful, and I seriously side-eye Harry’s belief that William wants to do more, but I have to accept he’s a better authority on his brother than I am. Maybe, just maybe there’s some truth to Charles holding both of them back.

    I find it very believable that a younger William really was keen about things and Charles held him back, because his popularity was through the roof and he didn’t want to be outshone. I think he also wants his CC numbers to be higher than his kids’, always. Perhaps this bred genuine complacency and laziness into William. Now he’s the heir apparent surely he could petition Charles to do more actual work, but so far he’s not dispelling the notion he’s willfully (pun intended) holding back.