Top critical review
Reviewed in Australia on 23 November 2020
I read 'Finding Freedom' and Lady Colin Campbell's book which is far better, but I thought a writer of Mr Lacey's calibre would bring (a) more insider information and (b) more gravitas to the subject than others. While I suppose he deserves some credit for jumping from gravitas to a gossipy, tabloid, nudge-nudge-wink-wink style to accommodate what he imagines current readers to be, I didn't enjoy it, and felt the book had been written in a hurry.
Like others, I ran into inaccuracies and re-hashes of what's already known, with what might have been the saving grace of bringing a different perspective to what is known: how the problems for these brothers of their parents' marriage cast a long shadow over the future. But there's another perspective Mr Lacey failed to note: 'No speaks' and rifts abound in the families of both Harry and Meghan. Diana was not speaking to her brother or mother when she died, and fell out with her sister Jane over her collaboration with Andrew Morton. Charles is known not to get on particularly well with his brothers. And if we're to speak of dysfunctional families, the Markles provide plenty of material too and plenty of current rifts.
I also found it stunning that the author had forty-nine fits over the secrecy--in my view, the privacy--of Archie's birth and christening. Does he seriously imagine that in the event of the death of both his parents, Archie's guidance would not immediately be taken over by the Royal Family? I can't think of one instance where the godparents of any Royal child has played any significant part in their upbringing. Look over all the past formal photos of Royal christenings: do any of them, including those of William and Harry, show and name the array of godparents? No--it's a family occasion above all. And Mr Lacey is apparently unaware that the current trend for modern parents is to take some quiet bonding time with their new baby before allowing visitors to flock in. Even William and Catherine, while going for the very new 'tradition' of showing off the newest baby outside the hospital have quickly whisked themselves and baby off to complete privacy. 'Warming pan plots' are completely out of place here.
The claim that the rift between the brothers is as serious as the Abdication is nonsense. That was one instance in which the rift between 'the spare' and the ex-King was never healed, but it had more to do with money and the Duke of Windsor's dubious loyalties in war, and the reported rudeness of the pair towards and about family members at home. Would there really have been the same fuss about Princess Margaret dropping her title to go off and live in France with the divorced Peter Townsend who had at least accrued some honour in war?
I do agree with the author that the Royals have never known what to do with or about their 'spares,' though King George VI, as Duke of York, was certainly thankful to live out of the spotlight and appalled to be forced into it. Others have not been 'allowed' to compete with the pushed popularity of the heir of the moment when so much use could be made of their other talents.
My personal opinion of Harry's withdrawal from Royal status is that he made the only sane decision to save himself from the family and the knee-jerking adulation towards it, along with intrusions of privacy. However, I leave that one to Royalists and republicans to fight out.