Do you remember the Duke of Edinburgh awards? Some of you may even have one somewhere. An award for map-reading, orienteering or otherwise managing to find your way around in the age before Google Maps and Uber. It was – and still is – a useful scheme, set up by a man who accepted his position as second fiddle, performed the role impeccably for decades and set up the awards to help millions of other people find their way.
It was on my mind as I was reading the latest revelations from Montecito, California. For the memoirs of Harry Sussex are even worse than expected. If I was the head of Netflix, I would be hopping with rage that Harry had kept all his most snore-a-thon stories for Netflix only to deliver the real juice in his memoir.
Bill Clinton’s publishers famously coughed up $15 million for his memoirs and he duly delivered a terrific manuscript filled with the inside scoop on budgetary constraints, Northern Ireland, the problems of Africa and more. By all accounts, the publishers pointed out to Bill that they hadn’t coughed up 15 big ones to not get even a paragraph about Monica Lewinsky. Clinton duly obliged, inserted a couple of careful paragraphs and earned out his considerable advance.
When I heard that Harry had signed a four-book deal for $40 million, I imagined that the scenario would be the same. He would send in a few hundred pages of exquisitely ghosted prose about the need for self-knowledge, of being the light within, and moving forwards, not backwards, in this life, only for the publishers to say – ahem – all very nice your Duke-ness, but we paid you to spill the dirt on your family.