Americans confused as to what a Biro is as Harry reveals Margarets cold-blooded gift

Now four days on since the world was officially introduced to Prince Harry ’s explosive memoir Spare, many readers have navigated their way through 416 pages of emotional anecdotes and damning attacks against the royal family.

However, one of the standout stars of the Prince’s book isn’t his struggle to cope with the loss of his mother, or even the bitter feud that still rages on between himself and his brother; no, instead the runaway star of Harry’s book is none other than the humble biro.

When the book first hit our shelves on Tuesday, nobody could have predicted just how much one anecdote about his Great Aunt Margaret (the sister of the late Queen) could have snowballed, but in the days that have followed, it is a story that has tickled readers on this side of the Atlantic, while also baffling our neighbours across the pond.

In Spare, Prince Harry explained that “Aunt Margo” was almost a “total stranger” despite knowing the “contours of her sad life.”

He wrote: “Great loves thwarted by the Palace. Exuberant streaks of self-destruction splashed across the tabloids. One hasty marriage, which looked doomed at the outset and ended up being worse than expected.”

On one occasion, when she “deigned to take notice” of the young Prince, the Royal Family were opening presents on Christmas Eve at Sandringham.

Yet unlike a more traditional gift, Harry revealed she had simply given him a biro with a rubber fish around it, something he later added was “cold-blooded.”

Despite the apparent savagery of the act, it has long been reported that giving joke presents has been a long running tradition among the royals, with Princess Anne once even giving King Charles a leather toilet seat just for laughs.

But the biro in particular caused quite a stir among American readers, as the actual identity of the item was somewhat lost in translation, with countless readers taking to the internet to try and discover what a biro actually is.

“Help! I don’t understand! What’s a biro?” questioned one puzzled reader.

Another also seemed equally baffled as they asked: “I didn’t understand that. What is a single biro?”

A third then sheepishly admitted they too had been puzzled by the language choice as they wrote: “I had no idea what a biro is and had to look it up because I wasn’t sure if it was the accent.”

Thankfully, there were plenty of helpful Brits on hand to explain what Prince Harry was talking about, as they summed it up briefly to say a Biro was a type of pen, or more generally a cheap ballpoint pen.

The name has previously been used to refer to any kind of pen, and is a nod to Budapest-based newspaper editor Laszlo Biro who had trouble using a fountain pen at the turn of the century and noticed that the ink used in newspaper printing dried more quickly.

After attempting to use the ink in his fountain pen, he noticed it failed to flow properly, so after trying a few possibilities out with his brother, a chemist named Georg, the two invented the ball bearing system we know and use today to create a ballpoint pen.


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