- Prince Harry’s ghostwriter J. R. Moehringer published an essay about writing “Spare” in The New Yorker.
- He recalled “shouting” at the Duke of Sussex via Zoom over a disagreement in the book.
- Moehringer also said he and Harry bonded over the loss of their mothers.
Prince Harry’s memoir “Spare” — which was released in January and set the record for the fastest-selling nonfiction book in history — revealed intimate details about his life as a royal, his relationship with King Charles and Prince William, and his lifelong issues with the British press.
Harry worked with the ghostwriter J. R. Moehringer on the book, who opened up about what it was like to write “Spare” in an essay published by The New Yorker on Monday titled “Notes From Prince Harry’s Ghostwriter.“
The essay narrates Moehringer’s path to becoming a ghostwriter, what his experience was like when “Spare” was published, and his working relationship with Prince Harry, which grew intimate over their two-year process of writing the book.
Although they developed a close relationship, Moehringer recapped a fight he and Harry had via Zoom in the summer of 2022 at the beginning of the essay.
Moehringer said they were discussing a passage of the book where Harry was tortured as part of a military training exercise and one of his fellow soldiers made a “vile dig” at Princess Diana. The fellow soldier later apologized to Harry, which Harry told Moehringer he responded to with a comeback. Moehringer didn’t want to include Harry’s response, which led the pair to argue.
“I was exasperated with Prince Harry,” Moehringer opened the essay. “My head was pounding, my jaw was clenched, and I was starting to raise my voice. And yet some part of me was still able to step outside the situation and think, ‘This is so weird. I’m shouting at Prince Harry.'”
Moehringer said Harry went on to explain to him that he wanted to include his response because people questioned his intelligence throughout his life, but Moehringer ended up convincing Harry to omit the comeback, as he thought it wouldn’t resonate with readers.
Moehringer also said in his essay that he and Harry bonded while writing “Spare,” particularly over the mutual loss of their mothers.
“Princess Diana had died twenty-three years before our first conversation, and my mother, Dorothy Moehringer, had just died, and our griefs felt equally fresh,” Moehringer wrote.
He said that Harry’s grief is what ultimately convinced him to ghostwrite the memoir.
“In retrospect, though, I think I selfishly welcomed the idea of being able to speak with someone, an expert, about that never-ending feeling of wishing you could call your mom,” he said.
Moehringer and Harry began collaborating on the memoir in 2020, with the author even staying at Harry and Meghan Markle’s guesthouse on two occasions.
Moehringer had the option to remain anonymous when they began working together, but his identity was leaked during the writing process. “Spare” itself was then leaked a week before its publication date.
Because his identity was known when “Spare” was published, Moehringer said he became swept up in the same tabloid frenzy Prince Harry faces on a daily basis.
He said paparazzi photographed him at his child’s school as he tried to drop them off, and a reporter appeared at his house the same day.
“Then, not one hour later, as I sat at my desk, trying to calm myself, I looked up to see a woman’s face at my window,” Moehringer said. “As if in a dream, I walked to the window and asked, ‘Who are you?’ Through the glass, she whispered, ‘I’m from the Mail on Sunday.'”
Moehringer went on to say that Harry comforted him and his wife after the experience.
“Harry was all heart,” he said of the Duke of Sussex’s response. “He asked if my family was OK, asked for physical descriptions of the people harassing us, promised to make some calls, see if anything could be done. We both knew nothing could be done, but still.”
“I felt gratitude, and some regret. I’d worked hard to understand the ordeals of Harry Windsor, and now I saw that I understood nothing,” he said. “Empathy is thin gruel compared with the marrow of experience.”