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The most explosive royal memoirs, from Harry’s Spare to Diana’s biography

Get the scoop from the royals themselves with these tell-all tomes

Daisy Lester
Monday 09 January 2023 13:58 GMT
From a lady-in-waiting’s story to the memoir of the late Queen’s cousin
From a lady-in-waiting’s story to the memoir of the late Queen’s cousin (The Independent)

After multiple leaks and an explosive interview with ITV that aired last night, it is near-impossible to escape the frenzy surrounding Prince Harry, his memoir Spare and the incendiary revelations found inside. From an alleged physical clash between the Duke and Prince William to admissions of drug-taking, the book is set to shake the foundations of the royal family.

Released on 10 January 2023 – in 16 different languages plus an audiobook read by Harry himself – the tome is ghost written by Pulitzer Prize winner JR Moehringer.

Touching on everything from the death of his mother, Princess Diana, to his decision to wear a Nazi costume, leaked extracts from Harry’s memoir show him talking candidly on topics such as grief, his marriage to Meghan Markle, mental health and his family.

But a royal offering insight into their life behind closed doors is nothing new. From Princess Diana’s secret collaboration with biographer Andrew Morton to former monarch the Duke of Windsor’s book, there is strong precedent for the tell-all royal memoir.

For those wanting to delve deeper into the history, life and drama of the royal family, we’ve detailed the best memoirs below, from Prince Harry’s upcoming Spare to his mother Diana’s revealing (and controversial) biography.

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‘Spare’ by Prince Harry, published by Penguin Random House: £14,

(Waterstones )

The highly anticipated memoir penned by Prince Harry and ghostwriter JR Moehringer is set for release on Tuesday 10 January 2023. Ahead of its publication, leaked extracts and an interview with ITV show Harry giving his side of the story about his life in the royal family, from the death of Princess Diana to Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle.

In the explosive first extract obtained by The Guardian, Harry reportedly claims: “[William] grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor. I landed on the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me.” Elsewhere, the Prince has given his opinions on Camilla, the Queen Consort, in an interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby. Reading aloud from his book, Harry wrote that his interests had been “sacrificed” to Camilla’s “PR altar”. He added: “There are things that have happened that have been incredibly hurtful, some in the past, some current.” To get the full scoop, you can pre-order the memoir now ahead of its launch tomorrow.

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‘Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words’ by Andrew Morton, published by Michael O’Mara: £8.99,


Both controversial and ground-breaking in its revelations about Princess Diana’s life inside the royal family, Andrew Morton’s biography was an instant bestseller upon its release in 1992. Arguably the most explosive book by a royal (until now, perhaps), Diana collaborated with Morton on the tome, exposing her side of the highly public story and changing many people’s perception of the royal family.

Speaking about her marriage, hopes for the future, struggles to fit into the family, her mental health, experience with the eating disorder bulimia and even a suicide attempt while pregnant, the candidness was unprecedented. So much so, the public refused to believe she had a role in the book until her death in 1997, after which Morton revealed Diana to be the book’s main source. An updated version was then published, with the new title: Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words.

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‘Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown’ by Anne Glenconner, published by Hodder Paperbacks: £7.69,

(Amazon )

A runaway success upon its publication in 2019, Anne Glenconner’s account of her life as lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret serves as a unique lens into the royal family. Funny, gossipy and, at times, tragic, Glenconner’s memoir takes us from her upbringing in one of the grandest estates in England and being maid of honour at the Queen’s coronation to her tumultuous marriage to the volatile Colin Tennant, the deaths of two of their five sons and the great friendship she had with Princess Margaret.

Glenconner’s memoir is not merely a portrait of life at the heart of the royal family, it is said to be a searing story of life in the gilded cage that many aristocratic women of the 20th century found themselves in, without inheritance and burdened by society’s expectations of them.

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‘A Royal Life by HRH’ by The Duke of Kent and Hugo Vickers, published by Hodder & Stoughton: £14.46,


Released in 2020, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent’s A Royal Life is one of the most recent memoirs to be penned by a royal. Written from a series of Zoom conversations with the historian Hugo Vickers (during the pandemic), the book is a rare account of the life of a working member of the royal family. Prince Edward – the Queen’s cousin – recounts everything from the coronation in 1953 and his lifelong royal duties and tours, to his army service and charity work.

As well as never-seen-before photographs from the 87-year-old’s private collection, there are touching recollections of family members, including the late Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Mary, Prince Philip and King George VI.

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Learn more about the life and legacy of Princess Diana with these books

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