Ghostwriter Details The Powerful Moment Prince Harry Fought To Keep In His Memoir

Nobody really expected Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, to pen (or rather, type) every word of his memoir himself. Unless they happen to be gifted writers, celebrities almost always use a ghostwriter for their autobiographies. But J.R. Moehringer is here to tell us that creating someone else's truth in that person's own words is no easy feat. In an essay he just wrote for The New Yorker — titled, appropriately enough, "Notes from Prince Harry's Ghostwriter" — the writer explains that the craft is, in fact, "an art." When he works with one of his subjects, Moehringer adds that he "urge[s] them not to let those who cast [ghostwriting] as hacky, shady, or faddish (it's been around for thousands of years) dim their pride."

So it was actually Moehringer who helped provide the most startling revelations from Prince Harry's "Spare." The duke opened up to him about the life-changing moments in his life, such as the death of Princess Diana and his tour of duty in Afghanistan. But he also told the ghostwriter some things that the palace would have preferred to have left private: his past drug use; the insensitive joke his father, King Charles, told about Harry possibly not being his son; and the time he claims William, Prince of Wales, knocked him down in an argument over Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

Yet sometimes a ghostwriter has to be selective about what to include. In his essay, Moehringer explains that he and Harry got into a heated argument over just one line in the book.

Prince Harry wanted to include a snappy comeback

Prince Harry and J.R. Moehringer spent two years working on "Spare," a process involving hours of interviews via Zoom and in person. (The Sussexes put him up in their guesthouse, where Meghan Markle "was forever bringing trays of food and sweets.") Then, just a few months before the book was to go to press, the collaboration nearly fell apart.

"Spare" contains a scene about Harry undergoing a simulated terrorist torture session as part of his military training. In the middle of the attack, one of his comrades yelled a nasty slur about Princess Diana. Even in the context of a mental-toughness exercise, that was out of line, and Harry fired a sharp comeback to show that he still "had his wits about him." Moehringer thought it unnecessary to include the zinger, but the prince wanted it included. At one point, the two men literally got into a shouting match. "Although this wasn't the first time that Harry and I had argued, it felt different; it felt as if we were hurtling toward some kind of decisive rupture," the writer recalls.

Finally, Moehringer managed to convince his client that the passage would be stronger without the line. In true Harry fashion, he grinned and said, "I really enjoy getting you worked up like that." Of course, the ghostwriter wasn't the only one who would get worked up. The claims Harry made about Prince William and other family members have caused a royal rift that has yet to heal.