Spare: Ghost-writer defends inaccuracies in Prince Harry's memoir after Air NZ shuts down claim, readers point out Xbox error

  • 13/01/2023

The ghost-writer behind Prince Harry's Spare is defending inaccuracies in the controversial memoir, seemingly blaming them on the Duke of Sussex's memory.

It follows Air New Zealand shutting down a strange claim in the book that the Prince's wife Meghan Markle booked a flight on the airline between Mexico and the United Kingdom - despite New Zealand's national carrier never flying that route.

In a tweet on Thursday, J.R. Moehringer, who ghost-wrote Spare for Prince Harry, shared a quote from the book The Art of Memoir.

"The line between memory and fact is blurry, between interpretation and fact. There are inadvertent mistakes of those kinds out the wazoo," Moehringer quoted author Mary Karr as saying.

Moehringer also tweeted other quotes of Karr about memory, including, "we often record the emotion alone, all detail blurred into unreadable smear".

It follows intense criticism of Spare for an assortment of mistakes, including that Prince Harry was at the boarding school Eton when he learnt of the Queen Mother's death. According to reports, he was actually on a skiing trip with his father and brother at the time.

Another passage in the book causing confusion is Harry's claim that, just before her death, his mother Princess Diana purchased him an Xbox for his 13th birthday in 1997. However, readers have noted that Xboxes didn't exist until 2001.

However, others have defended the book by saying that Harry does acknowledge that that's "the story" he has been told and it might not be correct - as it appears it isn't.

"It's appeared in many accounts of my life, as gospel, and I have no idea if it's true. Pa said Mummy hurt her head, but perhaps I was the one with brain damage? As a defence mechanism, most likely, my memory was no longer recording things quite as it once did."

But one claim that has been shut down entirely is Prince Harry saying his wife once booked a flight for her father to go to the UK from Mexico on Air New Zealand in "first class". 

NZ Herald earlier this week received a statement from the airline saying that can't be right.

"We've never had flights between Mexico and the UK. And we only have Business Premier," a spokesperson told the outlet.

While Moehringer has been retweeting praise for his book and those defending the errors, others have laid into the writer.

"Details that could be fact checked, should be. For instance, where someone was when he learns his great-grandmother had died. That's not open to interpretation," said one.

"Sounds a bit like gaslighting but keep going," said another.

"The problem with his facts being off is that he is writing this for 'history'," added a third.

"Sorry, but I don't think you get to play fast and loose with memories when you're trashing peoples' lives in a book. Xboxes and Air New Zealand flights aren't deal breakers in and of themselves, but they point to the overarching unreliability of the primary source."

"If you have memory problems, surely you shouldn't be pretending to write a factual book. Imagine ruining  peoples lives with untruths then blaming your memory."