When Prince Harry published his memoir Spare in January, the book promised to be a “raw” and “unflinching” portrayal of the royal’s life story to date, detailing a number of the physical and emotional struggles he endured before and after his dramatic exit from the British monarchy in 2020.
A week ahead of the official release date, the book was leaked to media outlets, with many of the most controversial stories being widely circulated before the public could read the prince’s words for themselves. Despite this setback, Spare became the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time—but the response from the public and commentators, though may not have been exactly as Harry would have wished.
Notable critics of the prince condemned his publishing details of private conversations with royal family members, despite being ferociously protective of his own privacy, and for his critical portrayals of King Charles, Prince William and Queen Camilla.
It was comedians, however, that appeared to take the most ammunition from the book, using the lesser-bombshell revelations, such as Harry’s description of catching frostbite on his “todger” to make the royal the punchline in a series of jokes.
Here, Newsweek looks at how the comedy world reacted to Prince Harry’s Spare.
Adult animated comedy South Park is perhaps the most explicit show to have spoofed Harry and Meghan Markle in the aftermath of Spare‘s release in a special episode titled: “The Worldwide Privacy Tour.”
Parodied as the “Prince and Princess of Canada” who leave the Canadian royal family to seek privacy, juxtaposed with appearing on TV interviews and releasing the memoir “Wahhh,” there was no doubt who the show was roasting, with the characters drawn to strongly resemble Harry and Meghan.
The show sparked rumors that the Sussexes were considering legal action against the show, which has done similar spoofs of innumerable celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Paris Hilton and Jennifer Lopez. However, a spokesperson for the couple said these claims were “baseless and boring.”
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, who has previously spoken out in support of Meghan Markle, made a joke at Harry’s expense while hosting the 2023 Grammy Awards in February.
Introducing comedian (and friend of Harry’s) James Cordon, he told the global audience: “James Cordon is a 12-time Emmy winner and a host of the Late Late Show. He’s also living proof that a man can move from London to L.A. and not tell everyone about his frostbitten penis.”
This earned a round of laughter from stars at the awards show, including Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck.
No late night host has made more jokes at Prince Harry’s expense after Spare than Jimmy Kimmel. Jimmy Kimmel Live! has featured a number of sketches about the book, including one with two actors dressed as the late pop star Prince, recreating an alleged fight between Harry and Prince William.
One of the most graphic sketches saw Kimmel perform a dramatic reading of an imagined children’s version of Spare, in which the royal’s experience applying a brand of lip balm favored by Princess Diana to his frostbitten penis was told in rhyme.
The joke was notable for appearing to also make Diana a figure of ridicule, something that has been rarely done in prime-time since her shocking death in 1997.
“My poor little prince, put this cream on your willy. It will lessen the ache and make it less chilly,” Kimmel read in the voice of the late princess.
“But mommy, did you not put this on your lips?”
“Oh yes, my dear boy, and also my nips. But do not delay or your knob be destroyed.”
“But mommy, have you heard about Sir Sigmund Freud?”
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon was another comedian to take aim at Harry in the aftermath of Spare.
In a segment titled “Google Autofails,” Fallon gave examples of humorous auto-filled answers from the search engine. The top responses to the half question: “How to return…” featured one of the answers as: “How to return…Prince Harry to England.”
Stephen Colbert had the distinction among the array of late night hosts taking aim at Harry’s memoir to actually feature the prince on his show for an exclusive interview promoting its release.
In a pre-recorded episode of The Late Show, aired on Spare‘s publication day, Colbert conducted his usual style of laid-back interview, appearing overall supportive of the prince.
However, in a prior episode promoting the appearance, Colbert did make a light-hearted joke at the monarchy’s expense, saying: “Prince Harry will be right there on this show, so stock up on corgis and steal a priceless cultural treasure from one of your colonies because the late show is going imperial.”
On Late Night with Seth Meyers, the comedian referenced the drama surrounding Prince Harry’s book in a recurring segment called “Back in my day.”
In the segment, Myers comments on current affairs issues from the viewpoint of an aged conservative.
“Back in my day, Prince Harry wasn’t breaking his silence with a bombshell book about the royal family,” he joked. “Fiddlesticks! Back in my day, Prince Harry was breaking his silence with an Oprah interview, and then he broke his silence with a multi-part Netflix documentary, and the other day he broke his silence on 60 Minutes.
“In fact, as far back as anyone can remember, Prince Harry has been out there somewhere breaking his silence,” Myers said. “I personally wish him the best. I hope he continues to live a long healthy life with his wife Meghan, living in privacy except to come out and break their silence one or two times a month until the end of time.”
Saturday Night Live
A month after Spare‘s release, Harry and the royal family found themselves the butt of the joke during Saturday Night Live‘s “Weekend Update” with Michael Che.
Che was joined by fellow SNL stars James Austin Johnson and Devon Walker, who played two “British rappers.”
He introduced the pair by asking: “So, guys, what’s going on with the royal family? Can you give us an update?”
The comedians then performed a rap spoofing the royals, referencing Harry’s days at the elite public school Eton College, the “exploitative tabloid press,” and the queen’s reaction to “interracial dating.”
Chelsea Handler referenced Harry’s frostbitten penis anecdote during her opening monologue at the 28th annual Critics’ Choice Awards in January.
Introducing nominated TV shows, including Ryan Murphey’s true-crime series, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, starring Evan Peters and Niecy Nash, she joked:
“Dahmer became the third highest viewed show on Netflix, which a combined watch time of 1 billion hours. Which, apparently, is the same amount of time we’re going to have to listen to Prince Harry talk about his frostbitten penis. It’s enough already.”
And Meghan’s Featured Too…
Though not the author of Spare, Meghan Markle has also seen herself become an increased target for comedians since its publication and the release of the couple’s six-part Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan.
Most notably, comedian Chris Rock took aim at the duchess’ comments made to Oprah Winfrey in 2021, in which she described conversations that took place between the royals with “concerns” about the skin color of her future children before the birth of Prince Archie in 2019.
“Sometimes it’s just some in-law s***,” Rock joked in his Netflix stand-up special, Chris Rock LIVE: Selective Outrage. “Because she’s complaining, I’m like, ‘What the f*** is she talking about?’ ‘Oprah, they’re so racist, they wanted to know how brown the baby was going to be.’
“I’m like, ‘That’s not racist,’ cause’ even Black people want to know how brown the baby gonna be. S***. We check behind them ears.”
Meghan was also recently criticized by actress Rebel Wilson, who said during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live! that the duchess didn’t leave her with a good impression after meeting at a polo match in 2022.
“We went up to Santa Barbara, met Harry, [he] could not have been nicer…” she told host Andy Cohen. “But then Meghan was not as cool. She wasn’t as naturally warm. But maybe, I don’t know, my mom being Australian just asked her all these like, slightly rude questions…like, ‘where are your kids?’ and things like that. I was like, ‘Mom don’t ask her that!'”
James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek’s The Royals Facebook page.
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