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Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ Ghostwriter Remembers the Extensive Writing Process & the One Thing That Immediately Bonded Them

On January 10, Prince Harry released his headline-making tell-all memoir Spare. Among the royal’s first-time confessions were the physical altercation with his brother Prince William, the lengths he went to in order to process his mother Princess Diana‘s death, and the NSFW confession of when he lost his virginity. Behind all the headlines, however, Harry worked tirelessly with his ghostwriter, J. R. Moehringer, to put his feelings and experience into words.

Now, a few months after the book’s monumental release, Moehringer is looking back at his role and opening the curtains to their process in an op-ed in The New Yorker.

At first, when Harry’s proposal first came his way, Moehringer admitted to feeling unsure about telling Harry’s story and how they’d get along. “I wondered what the real story was,” he wrote. “I wondered if we’d have any chemistry.”

“We did, and there was, I think, a surprising reason,” Moehringer continued. “Princess Diana had died 23 years before our first conversation, and my mother, Dorothy Moehringer, had just died, and our griefs felt equally fresh.” Therefore, after the two opened up about the grief they felt about their mothers, they immediately connected.

Moehringer continued, “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.”

“Also, I just liked the dude,” he continued. “I found his story, as he outlined it in broad strokes, relatable and infuriating. The way he’d been treated, by both strangers and intimates, was grotesque.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex arrives for the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023 in London, England. The Coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the other Commonwealth realms takes place at Westminster Abbey today. Charles acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II. (Photo by Andy Stenning  - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex arrives for the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Stenning – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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According to the ghostwriter, the process of writing started at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic back in 2020. “We could revel in the privacy of our Zoom bubble,” he wrote. “As Harry grew to trust me, he brought other people into the bubble, connecting me with his inner circle.”

“Little by little, Harry and I amassed hundreds of thousands of words,” Moehringer wrote. “When we weren’t Zooming or phoning, we were texting around the clock. In due time, no subject was off the table. I felt honored by his candor, and I could tell that he felt astonished by it. And energized.”

Moehringer explained that for Harry Spare wasn’t just about telling his story — it was about telling his story in a way that disputed everyone else’s made-up stories about him from throughout his life. “Harry couldn’t escape the wish that Spare might be a rebuttal to every lie ever published about him,” he wrote. “He knew, of course, that some people would be aghast at first. ‘Why on earth would Harry talk about that?’ But he had faith that they would soon see: because someone else already talked about it, and got it wrong.” Indeed, we were all shocked by some of Harry’s explicit confessions, but we can’t blame him for just trying to be honest.

Jr Moehringer, American writer and journalist, Mantova, Italy, September 2013. (Photo by Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images)

Jr Moehringer, American writer and journalist, Mantova, Italy, September 2013. (Photo by Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images)
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At one point, Moehringer remembered finally traveling to Montecito to meet Harry and his family in person. “Harry won the heart of my daughter, Gracie, with his vast Moana scholarship,” Moehringer remembered. “Harry put me up in his guesthouse, where Meghan [Markle] and Archie would visit me on their afternoon walks,” he added. “Meghan, knowing I was missing my family, was forever bringing trays of food and sweets.”

After many months of their Zoom bubble, it all quickly burst when the memoir, and Moehringer’s identity, were leaked to the press. In a split-second, Moehringer himself became the target of public scrutiny, dealing with stalkers and reporters knocking on his window.

“I’d worked hard to understand the ordeals of Harry Windsor, and now I saw that I understood nothing,” he reflected on the time. “Empathy is thin gruel compared with the marrow of experience. One morning of what Harry had endured since birth made me desperate to take another crack at the pages in Spare that talk about the media.”

When Moehringer expressed his frustrations to Harry, the royal reportedly tilted his head and said, “Welcome to my world, dude.”

Besides the public scrutiny, the leaked content, and some disapproving reviews, Moehringer remembered how happy Harry was when the public finally got hold of the book. “His smile was wide as he embraced us both,” Moehringer remembered of a book launch party they attended. “He was overjoyed by many things. The numbers, naturally. Guinness World Records had just certified his memoir as the fastest-selling nonfiction book in the history of the world. But, more than that, readers were reading, at last, the actual book, not Murdoched chunks laced with poison, and their online reviews were overwhelmingly effusive.”

Looks like Moehringer and Harry made the perfect pair, both as writers and, most of all, true friends.

Spare by Prince Harry $22.40

Before you go, click here to find out which tell-all books expose major royal family secrets. 
Finding Freedom, Lady in Waiting

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