Voices: The Bee, The Fly and The Wasp: Harry’s acid outburst against the grey men in the palace

Now that Spare by Prince Harry has been leaked, spun, translated to and from Spanish, and commanded at least four “exclusive” TV interviews with the renegade royal – and now that it has been officially published across print and digital media worldwide, reported, and digested – it’s clear who comes off worst. Prince William, Charles and then Camilla, in that order.

Only the reputation of the late Queen emerges intact – he wouldn’t dare, though, would he? – while Prince Andrew gets off lightly with just the one routine condemnation, and only because Andrew got to keep his security.

But there is also some collateral damage inflicted on “The Bee, The Fly and The Wasp”. These three insects are believed to be the private secretaries of the senior royals at the time: respectively, Edward Young, who acted for the Queen; Simon Case, who worked for Prince William and Harry; and Clive Alderton, who worked for the then Prince Charles.

Harry talks about the way he feels that he and his wife were “betrayed”, with particular reference to the so-called “Megxit” deal. According to Harry, the deal, which arrived after the Sandringham summit in January 2020, was a “fix”. The family had, according to Harry, already collectively decided to drive the Duke and Duchess of Sussex out of royal life, and the hour-long debate about various options was a sham. It was, in other words, the foundational document of the Sussexes’ subsequent life in exile.

In Harry’s words: “I might learn to endure the press, even forgive their abuse, I might, but my own family’s complicity, that was going to take longer to get over. Pa’s office, Willy’s office, enabling these fiends, if not outright collaborating.”

The way Harry talks about the three insectival figures is some of the harshest but most elegantly composed ridicule in the entire book. The Bee (probably Young) is identified as the prime mover in the Megxit deal, steering everything to the eventual denouement with the tireless energy of a honey bee seeking its pollen: “The Bee was oval-faced and fuzzy and tended to glide around with great equanimity and poise, as if he was a boon to all living things.”

The Fly, likely Case, had “spent much of his career adjacent to and, indeed drawn to, s***. The offal of government and media and wormy entrails, he loved it, grew fat on it, rubbed his hands in glee over it”. Of course, Case eventually went on to become Boris Johnson’s cabinet secretary, with more than its fair share of political dirt to dine upon, and also became embroiled in the stinky old Partygate fiasco (which, if his sobriquet of The Fly is accurate, would also have been greatly to his taste). At any rate, miraculously still in post, Case has proved tricky to swat.

The Wasp, likely Alderton, Harry found the trickiest: “Because he seemed so weedy, so self-effacing, you might be tempted to push back, insist on your point, and that was when he’d put you on his list. A short time later, without warning, he’d give you such a stab with his outsized stinger that you’d cry in confusion. ‘Where the f*** did that come from?’”

Now, reading Harry’s memoirs, perhaps it’s Alderton and Co’s turn to wonder “Where the f*** did that come from?” Where, indeed. Laughable as royal flummery and palace pomposity can be, there is a question of fairness here. For it’s perfectly possible that they’ve been traduced unfairly.

For example, when The Bee/Young in due course buzzes around the Sandringham conference table with a draft public announcement of the Megxit deal, whipped out of the briefcase as soon as the discussions are over, Harry sees that as evidence of a predetermined outcome – and therefore of bad faith by those present (which would presumably include the Queen).

The Bee/Young assures Harry that five different statements have been prepared for the five different possible outcomes, so there’s nothing suspicious about it. As with other incidents viewed with suspicion by the Sussexes, they may merely have misunderstood the way bureaucracies tend to work.

For example, Harry and Meghan accuse unnamed “royal insiders”, “sources” and minor royals of gossiping, inflating and even leaking stories to heighten their own importance and present speculation as something close to fact (and they allege some hacking of phones, too).

Harry might have gotten things a bit wrong. Maybe sometimes William had a point, although if the allegations made against him are true, he does seem to have a darker side to his private personality. Perhaps Harry might not have been the focus of a concerted campaign of hate by those around him?

Who is right? The chances are we’ll never know, because the royal establishment has taken a policy decision not to get dragged into a line-by-line rebuttal of the book, which they see as tiresome but survivable (according to reports based on “sources”).

Because Harry has spilled so many beans all over the royal carpets, they’re also reluctant to engage him in the discussions about “accountability” he’s demanding, for fear of everything being leaked all over again by Harry – ironically, the very sort of dishonourable behaviour he’s accusing everyone else of. The Megxit deal may have to stay exactly as it was left at the infamous Sandringham summit, with no return to official public duties for the Sussexes.

And so, The Bee, The Fly and The Wasp, and all the other invertebrates, will continue to flit, crawl and scurry around the corridors of power, just as they always have and always will. Dedicated public servants or lower than vermin? Depends who you ask.