His official christening gave him a royal heap of names: "Henry Charles Albert David of Wales." He was known as "Haz" to his best school mate (and then much later to Meghan). He took the screen-name "Billiard Baz" when playing video games online. "Spike" was his nickname when he spent weeks working on an Australian cattle ranch. For two combat tours in Afghanistan, his code name was "Widow Six Seven." His brother William ("Willy") calls him "Harold." His father, King Charles, has always addressed him as "darling boy," which papered over Harry's actual expendability as "the Spare" to "the Heir." It's a cold family that does not show love. It's a family full of blood relatives and "courtiers" both capable and perfectly willing to leak negative stuff, and outright lies, to the British tabloid press out of jealousy and spite. Looking at you, Camilla.
He was known as "the naughty one" growing up. He and his brother William fought frequently, with William developing the overbearing expectation that the younger brother would -- and absolutely should -- kowtow to him. Harry longed for acceptance, for closeness, for the love of his brother, especially after their mother died. Harry smoked a lot of marijuana and has used mushrooms to rewire his brain and tame "the red mist" of anger and loss that sometimes descends on him.
In the "Acknowledgements" Harry praises his "collaborator and friend, confessor and sometimes sparring partner," J.R. Moehringer, who ghost-wrote the book. I know Moehringer's work from the Andre Agassi memoir Open, which he also ghost-wrote and which ranks among the very best autobiographies I've ever read. Moehringer digs deep with his subjects, forces confrontations with insecurities and dark secrets, and the results are astonishing.
The rendition of Prince Harry's time in the British Army is especially compelling. Just one small passage for a taste of the writing:
In between the runs we'd drag our bodies up ropes, or hurl them at walls, or ram them against each other. At night something more than pain would creep into our bones. It was a deep, shuddering throb. There was no way to survive that throb except to dissociate from it, tell your mind that you were not it. Sunder yourself from yourself. The color sergeants said this was part of their Grand Plan. Kill the Self....
I couldn't tell how the other cadets felt about all this, but I bought in, all the way. Self? I was more than ready to shed that dead weight. Identity? Take it.
I could understand, for someone attached to their self, their identity, that this experience might be harsh. Not me. I rejoiced as slowly, steadily, I felt myself being reduced to an essence, the impurities removed, only the vital stuff remaining.
Count me on Harry and Meghan's side.