She looks outside, her blue eyes unblinking under her messy red eyebrows. His head almost fills the frame with his matching rough-cut hair and beard. Just below it, you can see a pale gray T-shirt and leather thong necklace.
The front-facing portrait of Prince Harry’s much-discussed, leaked, and now almost inevitable memoir “Spare” is an image that its publishers hope will help sell more than a million books. Of course, all the juicy gossip about the ingredients makes a difference. But image matters when it comes to the emotional attraction that makes a book an object of desire and curiosity, a promise of return.
It creates a series of subconscious assumptions in the blink of an eye about what readers can find after opening the cover. The words inside are what a gorgeous perfume bottle smells: Verification of content.
And when it comes to Harry’s cover, what he isn’t is as important as what he is.
For example, it is not remotely royal. The magnificence and status that the British people pay for is by no means absent. Harry’s departure from the monarchy was hidden for all to see. There is no crown. No bathrobes. No military dress. Not even a Savile Row outfit.
If Harry wants to position himself as the prince of the people, like his mother before him, this is his coat of arms. After all, that’s the gist of the book—that is, a portrait created “not as the prince I was born, but as the man I’ve become,” he said.
More about the British Royal Family
- Harry vs William :In the latest episode of the Netflix documentary “Harry & Meghan,” Harry made several provocative allegations about his brother William.
- Assistant Resigns:Two weeks after being repeatedly pressured by a member of the royal family about which country she came from, a British-born Black woman returned to Buckingham Palace to receive a face-to-face apology from her interrogator.
- Boston Visit: Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales recently made a whirlwind visit to Boston. Areas of the city were unaffected.
- ‘Crown’: Months ago, the new season of the Netflix series was shaping up to be another public relations headache for Prince Charles. But then he became king.
Here he is: the man he has become. For all to see.
The photo positions Harry in the most accessible, costumeless way possible, which is of course a kind of costume in itself – just like us, unlike his family. Capturing the king in a double-breasted suit and striped tie, ready-made pocket handkerchief, King Charles’s recent biography differs from “The King: The Life of Charles III” or even the latest Harry and Meghan book. “Finding Freedom,” which depicts the prince in a dove-gray suit next to his wife. Instead, on his own book cover, Harry is stripped as close to him as appropriately possible, if not naked.
His face, unadorned except for his beard, which we now know thanks to an ITV interview with British journalist Tom Bradby, was the source of sibling rivalry, but that was important because, Harry said, “he represented the new Harry.” Revealing that she pushed Harry to the ground and tore his necklace during the conflict, the leather necklace suddenly looks like an Easter egg filled with symbolism.
Harry isn’t smiling, he’s not looking at the sunset, the future, or heaven, he’s not thinking of his own inner thoughts, like so many such photos in recent best-selling memoirs like Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”, Barack Obama’s “Promised.” Land” or Edward Enninful’s “A Visible Man” (although, as Matthew Dorfman, art director of The New York Times Book Review, points out, the simplicity of the typography reflects a similarly simple design). Instead, Harry appears to be completely present with no conflict between himself and the reader. The impression is one of immediacy. There is nothing to hide.
Queen Given Elizabeth’s speculation that she’s considering softening the tone of her posthumous memoir, the gaze functions as a counter-push: a visual implication that what’s inside won’t be equally filtered.
Harry, of course, is not the first memoirist to use this strategy. Piers Morgan sarcastically compared it to Andre Agassi’s 2009 book “Open,” written by JR Moehringer, also working with Harry, and featuring the front and middle of the subject’s head on the cover. Mr. Morgan was right in pointing out the similarity, but was wrong to see it as a failure. It’s a calculated choice, placing memoirs in the tradition of books known for their honesty rather than spoiling the mood of history.
In each case, the photographer is different. Harry was captured by Ramona Rosales, known for her work with Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, and celebrities like Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, who recently photographed Meghan for the cover of Variety. Choosing Miss Rosales as her portraitist was a commitment from Harry’s greater commitment to America, to inclusivity, and to the new life he and his wife claimed to have founded.
There is so much to read with almost no words.