Prince Harry’s memoir has a release date. How explosive will it be? – The Irish Times


It seemed like a sure thing, or as close to a sure thing as book publishing could get: Prince Harry, who was living in self-imposed exile after his tumultuous exit from the British royal family, wrote a tell-all. After months of rampant speculation, the book has a release date: January 10, 2023, say industry executives.

The memoir, the first in a competitive multi-book deal with Penguin Random House, was originally slated for release in late 2022 and expected to be a blockbuster. It was part of a wider push by Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to build their brands as media moguls: beyond the book deal, with a supposed price tag of at least $20 million, the couple signed lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify.

Their star power — and willingness to speak with unusual, unflattering candor on a subject often shrouded in secrecy — was on display during a 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, which drew more than 17 million viewers to the United States (nearly 50 million worldwide) and included accusations that the royal family failed to support the couple amid tabloid attacks and made racist remarks when Meghan was pregnant, thinking about the blackness of the baby’s skin.

Many things have changed since then.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last month, any attack the memoir might make on members of the royal family or the monarchy might seem unseemly to many readers. Harry was cold-eyed over the contents of the memoirs at various times, according to book industry executives with knowledge of the process, and the project was shrouded in rumour, delays and secrecy.

The memoir will be published at a delicate time for the British monarchy and public, who are still adjusting to King Charles III and reeling from economic and political instability. His exit also puts Harry in an impossible situation. Damaging revelations could damage the monarchy and its relationship with its family. But holding back could dampen sales, making it harder for his publisher to recoup his considerable costs – and could erode Harry’s self-made image as a rebellious, truthful prince.

“Is his goal to promote his stardom to a certain audience, or is it to mend the rift with his family?” says literary agent Matt Latimer, co-founder of the Javelin agency, which represents politicians and public figures like James Comey, the former FBI director, and John Bolton, the former US national security adviser. “These are competing goals to some degree, and it’s hard to do both.”

Penguin Random House declined to comment. A representative for Harry and Meghan also declined to comment.

The memoirs have been the subject of intense speculation in the publishing world and among royal watchers. British tabloids and publishing insiders have debated Harry’s candor in revealing the causes of his caustic rift with his family and the damage he would be willing to inflict on the institution of the monarchy. In the wake of the Queen’s death, some political commentators have questioned the value of the monarchy, and further revelations from Harry could fuel public skepticism about the institution and its vast cast of courtiers. .

Harry described the ‘genetic pain and suffering’ of being raised in the royal family and compared growing up as a royal as ‘a cross between The Truman Show and living in a zoo’.

“Remember that the British Royal Family are here by consent; they must earn and retain the respect of the British public,” says Valentine Low, journalist and author of “Brokers: Intrigue, Ambition and the Power Players Behind the House of Windsor.” “If this is fundamentally and permanently damaged, it could be very serious.”

When the deal was first announced in the summer of 2021, Penguin Random House described the book as “an intimate and heartfelt memoir” by Harry that would provide “the definitive account of the experiences, adventures, losses and life lessons that helped shape him,” including his childhood and coming of age as a member of the royal family, his time in the military, his marriage to Meghan, and his experiences with fatherhood.

“I write this not as the prince that I was born, but as the man that I have become,” Harry said in a statement released by his publisher at the time, adding that he aimed to produce a “first-hand account of my accurate and entirely truthful life”.

“I’ve worn many hats over the years, literally and figuratively, and I hope that by telling my story – the ups and downs, the mistakes, the lessons learned – I can help show that few no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think,” he said.

Despite Harry’s attempt to portray his memoir as a noble undertaking, the announcement sparked a wave of dizzying guesswork among royal experts about how much he would brew. A recent article in Britain’s Daily Mail, which predicted the memoir would deliver “bomb after bomb”, contained low-source chatter about the anxiety the prospect of a revealer is supposed to cause in the royal family: “The Buckingham Palace is in a high state of alarm, with courtiers allegedly wondering what, if anything, can be done to stop its publication.

It’s unclear, however, how far Harry will go.

In media interviews, Harry and Meghan described the psychological toll of harsh and unrelenting media coverage, the lack of support they felt from the Royal Family and the racism they said was directed at Meghan, who revealed that she had felt suicidal at one point. . But the couple didn’t reveal, for example, who in the royal family speculated about their baby’s complexion.

Harry’s complaints about his family date back to his childhood: In a podcast interview with actor Dax Shepard, Harry described the “genetic pain and suffering” of being raised in the royal family and compared the growing up as a royal as “a mix between The Truman Show and living in a zoo”.

Rumors began to swirl in the tabloids and across the publishing world that Harry would tone down or avoid some of the more damning documents about his family out of respect for the Queen.

The couple’s heartfelt confessions won over some of the American public, but their publicity strategy was less well received in the UK, where they were vilified in the press as ungraceful and lambasted for portraying themselves as victims.

Harry and Meghan’s strained relationship with her family and their harsh treatment by the British tabloid press were on full display this fall, as their attendance at the Queen’s funeral sparked a fresh round of criticism that they were there for attention. .

Rumors began to swirl in the tabloids and in the publishing world that Harry would tone down or avoid some of the more damning documents about his family out of respect for the Queen, although, as is often the case, a Much of the speculation has come from unnamed sources, and Harry and his editor have not commented publicly. Some royal experts have warned that it would be outrageous for Harry to deliver another public blow to his family so soon after the Queen’s death. “If it was anything sensational, it would be tasteless,” royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said last month.

The memoir will be published by Random House in the US and Transworld, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK, in the UK, according to Harry’s publisher’s original announcement. Penguin Random House did not disclose financial terms, but notes that Harry will donate his profits to charity. It was unclear whether “proceeds” referred to his large lead or the potential royalties he would earn if the books sold well enough to earn that lead.

The memoir attracted the interest of several major publishers. The project was offered under a multi-book deal, with flexibility over how many and what kind of books Harry and Meghan could produce, according to people with knowledge of the acquisition process, who spoke under the guise of anonymity because such negotiations are private. The process began even before the couple’s Oprah interview when the memoir’s incendiary potential became widely known.

Penguin Random House has invested heavily in books by public figures and politicians, with widely varying results, underscoring the risky nature of big bets in the publishing world. The company signed a 64.5 million euro ($65 million) contract for the memoirs of Barack and Michelle Obama, and Michelle Obama’s book became one of the best-selling books of all time. with over 17 million copies sold worldwide. However, other big deals have been spectacular failures, like Andrew Cuomo’s €5 million ($5.1 million) deal for American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic. The book sold modestly and was a source of endless headaches for the company when it sparked a state ethics investigation.

Penguin Random House is somewhat protected in its deal with Harry as the risk is spread over several books and any loss would be spread over several years.

But the company is under pressure. The Biden administration has filed a lawsuit to stop its bid to buy rival publisher Simon & Schuster, and if the deal doesn’t go through, Penguin Random House is expected to pay around 198 million euros ($200 million) to the company that owns Simon & Schuster. Penguin Random House also faces a difficult economic climate, with pressures on the supply chain and inflation. Harry’s book could have boosted his holiday sales – had it been published as planned.

Harry works with famed ghostwriter JR Moehringer, who won awards for his work on the autobiography of tennis player Andre Agassi, and is known for probing the tensions inherent in father-son relationships.

Some royal watchers argue that no matter what the memoirs say, the monarchy has weathered scandal after scandal, and it will likely do so again.

“Yes, it comes at a delicate time of transition, yes, people are nervous, yes, it could hurt the monarchy,” says Low, the author of “Brokers.” “In the long run, unless Harry has something amazing to say, they’ll be fine,” he said. “But let’s see what Harry has to say.” — This article originally appeared in the New York Times


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