‘Spare’: Prince Harry successfully banned the Royal Rota from his wedding

In Spare, Prince Harry writes extensively about his disdain for many tabloid editors and royal-rota hacks. He’s kept track of many of them throughout their careers, and he has a classic Virgo’s long memory for grudges. That’s a huge part of Spare and it makes me feel seen: Harry’s Virgo ability to recall who screwed him over, who did him dirty, who wrote something false about him, who was tracking his girlfriend, who was listening to his voicemail messages. Harry was repeatedly encouraged to play the game, the same game his father and stepmother played, of cozying up to their media abusers and enthusiastically participating in the Invisible Contract. Harry wrote about this in a particular section of Spare, in the lead-up to his 2018 wedding, when the British tabloids were writing about wedding “Portaloos.”

That spring, however, the press was quieter. Keener about breaking news of wedding details than inventing new libels… Above all, we hoped the royal correspondents would continue to write about poo instead of trying to stir it up.

So when the Palace encouraged us to feed more wedding details to those correspondents, known as the Royal Rota, we obeyed. At the same time, I told the Palace that on the Big Day, the happiest day of our lives, I didn’t want to see one single royal correspondent inside that chapel, unless Murdoch himself apologized for phone hacking.

The Palace scoffed. It would be all-out war, the courtiers warned, to bar the Royal Rota from the wedding. Then let’s go to war.

I’d had it with the Royal Rota, both the individuals and the system, which was more outdated than the horse and cart. It had been devised some forty years earlier, to give British print and broadcast reporters first crack at the Royal Family, and it stank to high heaven. It discouraged fair competition, engendered cronyism, encouraged a small mob of hacks to feel entitled.

After weeks of wrangling, it was agreed: The Royal Rota wouldn’t be allowed in the chapel, but they could gather outside. A small win, which I hugely celebrated.

[From Spare by Prince Harry]

What I keep thinking about is that part in Netflix’s Harry & Meghan, when the British expert (I forget her name, I’m sorry) spoke about how Harry and William were the first heir-and-spare born into the invisible contract system and the royal rota system. Harry and William didn’t negotiate that deal as children or adults, the deal was in place when they were born and they grew up caged within that tragic system. William chose to lean into it, and he learned from his father how to brief against members of his family, how to smear his brother and sister-in-law, how to protect his own ass at all costs. Harry chose a different path – to pick a fight, to try to dismantle a broken system, to call out the Rota.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images, Avalon Red.

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