Prince Harry’s memoir is filled with surprising revelations about the royal family that will surely dominate the headlines, but it’s also chock-full of absurd anecdotes. Some stories, like his frostbitten penis at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, one almost wishes Harry hadn’t shared them. Others, like how King Charles loves smelling things, are just so strange they must be true.
The BBC called Spare “the weirdest book ever written by a royal.” We’re inclined to agree. Here, the 21 of strangest, weirdest, most ridiculous things that Prince Harry shared in his memoir—from his hatred of kilts, to his impression of Graceland, and his love of the sitcom Friends.
1. He’s a self-described “Friends fanatic”
If there’s one thing to take away from Spare, it’s Prince Harry’s television habits. Namely, he’s obsessed with Friends. He also talks about watching 24 and Family Guy. But it’s Friends that has his heart. As he writes, “I think I might’ve watched every episode of Friends in 2013. I decided I was a Chandler.” In another anecdote, he says, “I was at Clarence House, sitting on the floor of the TV room. Probably watching Friends.”
Later he writes, “People often speculated that I was clinging to my bachelor life because it was so glamorous. Many evenings I’d think: If only they could see me now. Then I’d go back to folding my underwear and watching ‘The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding.'”
In Los Angeles, at age 31, he crashes at Courteney Cox’s house. Harry writes, “As a Friends fanatic, the idea of crashing at Monica’s was highly appealing. And amusing.” Later, when Courteney shows up, he explains, “She was Monica. And I was a Chandler. I wondered if I’d ever work up the courage to tell her.” Now she knows!
2. His frostbitten penis at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding
One story that dominated headlines before Spare even released was about Prince Harry’s frostbitten penis, which receives far too much attention in his memoir. (The word “penis” appears eight times in the book, if you were wondering.)
Ahead of Prince William’s wedding to Kate, Prince Harry travels to the North Pole and returns home with frostnipped ears, cheeks, and todger. He writes, “Upon arriving home I’d been horrified to discover that my nether regions were frostnipped as well, and while the ears and cheeks were already healing, the todger wasn’t. It was becoming more of an issue by the day.”
At Westminster Abbey for the wedding ceremony, he writes about thinking of Princess Diana’s funeral, and those who were buried at the Abbey. He also, obviously, is thinking about his frostbite issues. “Between these thoughts of Mummy and death and my frostnipped penis, I was in danger of becoming as anxious as the groom,” he writes. Harry also wonders, “What was the universe out to prove by taking my penis at the same moment it took my brother?”
Soon, the reader learns, Harry’s “penis was oscillating between extremely sensitive and borderline traumatized. The last place I wanted to be was Frostnipistan.” Harry eventually sees a doctor, and says that time will heal it.
Later, when he sets out to the South Pole (with actor Dominic West, who would later go on to play Charles in The Crown), he writes, “one very close mate hired a seamstress to make me a bespoke cock cushion. Square, supportive, it was sewn from pieces of the softest fleece and… Enough said.”
3. His sensitivity to heat (that he shares with King Charles)
Prince Harry is funny throughout Spare, especially when he writes about the inner workings of royal life. “I’d always been sensitive to heat. Like Pa. He and I would joke about it. We’re not made for this world, we said. Bloody snowmen. The dining room at Sandringham, for instance, was our version of Dante’s Inferno,” he writes.
Either Harry or Charles would sneak to open a window, crack it open, but “the corgis always betrayed us,” Harry writes. “The cool air would make them whimper, and Granny would say: Is there a draft? And then a footman would promptly shut the window. (That loud thump, unavoidable because the windows were so old, always felt like the door of a jail cell being slammed.)”
The betrayal of the corgis!
4. Queen Mother imitated Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G
The mere fact that Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, whom Harry calls “Gan-Gan” knew about Sacha Baron Cohen’s fictional character Ali G feels out of this world. But she did.
As Harry recounts, “I did, however, make her laugh. Normally that was Pa’s job; he had a knack for finding Gan-Gan’s funny bone. He loved her as much as he loved anybody in the world, perhaps more. I recall him glancing over several times and looking pleased that I was getting such good giggles out of his favorite person.”
He continues, “At one point I told Gan-Gan about Ali G, the character played by Sacha Baron Cohen. I taught her to say Booyakasha, showing her how to flick her fingers the way Sacha did. She couldn’t grasp it, she had no idea what I was talking about, but she had such fun trying to flick and say the word. With every repetition of that word, Booyakasha, she’d shriek, which would make everyone else smile. It tickled me, thrilled me. It made me feel…a part of things. This was my family, in which I, for one night at least, had a distinctive role.”
5. He begs Will Arnett (who he didn’t realize was Will Arnett) to do the Batman voice
While in Los Angeles, crashing with the aforementioned Courtney Cox, she throws a party. An unnamed actor shows up, and he’s a “bloke who looked familiar,” but neither he nor his mate could place him.
Eventually, he realizes he is the voice of Batman from the LEGO Batman movie, and Harry begs him to do the Batman voice. As Harry recalls, “He shut his eyes. He wanted to say no, but he didn’t want to be impolite. Or else he recognized that I wouldn’t stop. He fixed me with his ice-blue eyes and cleared his throat and in perfect gravelly Batmanese said: Hello, Harry. Oh, I loved it. Again! He did it again. I loved it even more. We shared a big laugh.”
After, Prince Harry recounts taking mushroom chocolates.
6. Will and Kate were “religious” viewers of Suits
The show that shot Meghan Markle to stardom, Suits, isn’t discussed much, but apparently Prince William and Kate Middleton were big fans of the series. Ahead of introducing Meghan, Harry tells them about her, and he recounts, “Their mouths fell open. They turned to each other. Then Willy turned to me and said: Fuck off!” He continues, “I was baffled, until Willy and Kate explained that they were regular—nay, religious—viewers of Suits.”
Harry says, ” Great, I thought, laughing. I’ve been worrying about the wrong thing. All this time I’d thought Willy and Kate might not welcome Meg into the family, but now I had to worry about them hounding her for an autograph. They barraged me with questions. I told them a bit of how we’d met, told them about Botswana, told them about Waitrose, told them I was smitten, but overall what I told them was heavily redacted. I just didn’t want to give away too much.”
7. Queen Elizabeth and King Charles like when women wear their hair down
This one’s just a strange fact Harry throws in there: “Pa likes it when women wear their hair down. Granny too. She often commented on ‘Kate’s beautiful mane.'” Okay??
There’s some context: When Harry brings Meghan to meet Charles and Camilla for the first time, he recommends she wear her hair down and little make-up.
8. Charles apparently believes in Scottish mermaids
This part is too long to reproduce in full here, but in August 2018, Harry recounts being at the Castle of Mey in Scotland with Charles and Meghan. One night, Charles tells them a story about selkies, or Scottish mermaids who took the form of seals.
“So, when you see a seal,” Charles told Harry and Meghan “You never can tell…Sing to it. They often sing back.” Harry says he replies, “Oh, come on. You’re telling fairytales, Pa!” Charles responds, “No, it’s absolutely true!”
While at the Castle of Mey, the Sussexes go down to the beach and then they see seals. So Prince Harry runs to the water, per Charles’s instructions, and sings to them. He writes, ” Meg joined me, and sang to them, and now of course they sang back. She really is magic, I thought. Even the seals know it.” Harry then jumps in and swims to the seals.
The chapter ends ominously, “It had been such a lovely fairytale, I thought. How did it get so dark so fast?”
9. Prince Harry was high on laughing gas at Archie’s birth
It’s not weird that Prince Harry wrote about his son’s birth, rather, the details he shared were interesting. For example, he used the laughing gas meant for Meghan.
He writes, “I took several slow, penetrating hits. Meg, bouncing on a giant purple ball, a proven way of giving Nature a push, laughed and rolled her eyes. I took several more hits and now I was bouncing too. When her contractions began to quicken, and deepen, a nurse came and tried to give some laughing gas to Meg. There was none left. The nurse looked at the tank, looked at me, and I could see the thought slowly dawning: Gracious, the husband’s had it all. Sorry, I said meekly. Meg laughed, the nurse had to laugh, and quickly changed the canister.”
Harry also shares the “soothing music” he turned on in the hospital room: Deva Premal, who “remixed Sanskrit mantras into soulful hymns.” But when the anesthetist came in, they turned off the music, which Harry writes was a “vibe change.”
10. When they moved to Montecito, it required a “couple hours” and “thirteen suitcases”
Harry writes, “We pulled together a down-payment, took out a mortgage, and in July 2020 we moved in. The move itself required only a couple of hours. Everything we owned fitted into thirteen suitcases. That first night we had a quiet drink in celebration, roasted a chicken, went to bed early. All was well, we said. And yet Meg was still under loads of stress.”
Thirteen suitcases and a couple of hours is weird only because it seems so implausible!
11. How he felt wearing his Blues and Royals uniform
Much is written in Spare about how Harry and William looked at their respective weddings. William apparently wanted to wear his Household Cavalry kit, which Queen Elizabeth rejected, and made him wear the red uniform of the Irish Guards. Harry, on the other hand, wore his Blues and Royals uniform to William’s wedding.
He writes, “I assured [William] that he looked bloody smart in the Harp of Ireland, with the Crown Imperial and the forage cap with the regimental motto: Quis Separabit? Who shall separate us? It didn’t seem to make an impression. I, on the other hand, did not look smart, nor did I feel comfortable, in my Blues and Royals uniform, which protocol dictated that I wear. I’d never worn it before and hoped not to wear it again anytime soon. It had huge shoulder pads, and huge cuffs, and I could imagine people saying: Who’s this idiot? I felt like a kitsch version of Johnny Bravo.”
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Johnny Bravo is an American cartoon character that aired on the Cartoon Network from 1997 through 2004. (You can watch the intro above.)
12. He empathizes with cows
A real line Harry writes in Spare: “Cows need their space. I felt them.”
The context of the line is Harry recounting is gap year working in Australia, but you don’t need much more context. Only that Harry yearns to have his space.
13. Princess Diana’s taste in children’s clothes
Prince Harry does not speak with any negativity about his late mother. The closest he gets is joking about her taste in children’s clothes.
“Willy always hated it when anyone made the mistake of thinking us a package deal. He loathed it when Mummy dressed us in the same outfits,” Harry writes. He added, in a parenthetical, “It didn’t help that her taste in children’s clothes ran to the extreme; we often looked like the twins from Alice in Wonderland.” Yet, he concludes, “I barely took notice. I didn’t care about clothes, mine or anyone else’s.”
14. Harry is vehemently anti-kilt
Though he “didn’t care about clothes,” he hates a kilt. Harry writes, “So long as we weren’t wearing kilts, with that worrisome knife in your sock and that breeze up your arse, I was good.”
15. Queen Elizabeth’s salad dressing, and Prince Philip’s spaghetti bolognese
Recounting being at Balmoral in summer 2001, he writes about his grandparents in the kitchen.
” Grandpa, who’d set off half an hour before us, was already tending his grill at the back of the lodge. He stood amid a thick cloud of smoke, tears streaming from his eyes. He wore a flat cap, which he took off now and then to mop his brow or smack a fly. As the fillets of venison sizzled he turned them with a huge pair of tongs, then put on a loop of Cumberland sausages. Normally I’d beg him to make a pot of his specialty, spaghetti Bolognese. This night, for some reason, I didn’t,” Harry writes.
He continues, “Granny’s specialty was the salad dressing. She’d whisked a large batch. Then she lit the candles down the long table and we all sat on wooden chairs with creaky straw seats. Often we had a guest for these dinners, some famous or eminent personage. Many times I’d discussed the temperature of the meat or the coolness of the evening with a prime minister or bishop. But tonight it was just family.”
16. His impressions of Graceland
Harry’s friend, Guy Pelly, got married in Tennessee and during a break the festivities, he toured Graceland. (He was with Prince William and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, though that is not mentioned in Spare.)
Of Graceland, Harry writes, “People variously called the house a castle, a mansion, a palace, but it reminded me of the badger sett. Dark, claustrophobic. I walked around saying: The King lived here, you say? Really? I stood in one tiny room with loud furniture and shag carpet and thought: The King’s interior designer must’ve been on acid.”
17. The corgis were like his cousins
Queen Elizabeth’s famous corgis make a few appearances in Spare, including the above “corgi betrayal” when windows were opened. Yet, their most notable mention in the memoir comes when Prince Harry is gathering up the courage to ask Queen Elizabeth for permission to marry Meghan Markle.
On a royal shooting outing, he follows his grandmother as she walks back to her Land Rover. “I quick-stepped after her, the dogs circling my feet. Looking at them, my mind began to race. My mother used to say that being around Granny and the corgis was like standing on a moving carpet, and I used to know most of them, living and dead, as if they were my cousins, Dookie, Emma, Susan, Linnet, Pickles, Chipper, they were all said to descend from the corgis that belonged to Queen Victoria, the more things change the more they stay the same, but these weren’t corgis, these were hunting dogs, and they had a different purpose, and I had a different purpose, and I realized that I needed to get to it…”
The corgis were basically Harry’s cousins, how cute (and weird).
18. Harry had the runs at a friend’s wedding
Filing this under things we absolutely did not need to know, along with the frostbitten penis: Prince Harry took magnesium supplements to help with his anxiety. “It did, he writes, “but in large quantities it also had unpleasant side effects—loosens the bowels—which I learned the hard way at a mate’s wedding.”
He does not reveal which friend’s wedding it was.
19. King Charles is always smelling things
Prince Harry recounts the day before Princess Diana died in great detail in Spare. He was at Balmoral with Charles and the rest of the royals. He remembers, “Pa stopped by on his way to dinner. He was running late, but he made a show of lifting a silver dome—Yum, wish I was having that!—and taking a long sniff. He was always sniffing things. Food, roses, our hair. He must’ve been a bloodhound in another life. Maybe he took all those long sniffs because it was hard to smell anything over his personal scent. Eau Sauvage. He’d slather the stuff on his cheeks, his neck, his shirt. Flowery, with a hint of something harsh, like pepper or gunpowder, it was made in Paris. Said so on the bottle. Which made me think of Mummy.”
20. Harry loves the smell of silver birch
Speaking of smells, in one anecdote, Harry recalls being at Balmoral during summer 2001. At Inchnabobart, a lodge on the estate, “We ran inside the lodge. The warm kitchen! The old fireplace! I fell onto the fender, with its worn red cushion, and inhaled the smell of that huge pyramid of silver birch firewood stacked beside it. If there’s a smell more intoxicating or inviting than silver birch, I don’t know what it could be.”
21. He wore Tom Hardy’s Mad Max costume to Halloween
On Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s last night of freedom, they spent it at a Halloween party at Toronto’s Soho House, as they shared in their Netflix documentary. What they didn’t share? Harry was wearing a costume from Mad Max. Harry writes, “I’d turned to a friend, the actor Tom Hardy, before I left home. I’d phoned him to ask if I could borrow his costume from Mad Max.”
“He’d given it all to me before I left Britain, and now I tried it on in Meg’s little bathroom,” Harry adds. “When I came out, she roared with laughter.”
Emily Burack (she/her) is the news writer for Town & Country, where she covers entertainment, culture, the royals, and a range of other subjects. Before joining T&C, she was the deputy managing editor at Hey Alma, a Jewish culture site. Follow her @emburack on Twitter and Instagram.