My question is motivated by the media frenzy around the publication of an autobiographical memoir by Prince Harry, the second son of our current king, Charles III. The premature release of the Spanish translation of the work reveals that the title has been rendered as En la sombra while the English title is to be Spare. I thought I knew a word for spare and the DLE confirms that recambio does indeed, amongst other things, mean

Pieza destinada a sustituir en caso necesario a otra igual de una máquina, aparato o instrumento

I note though that this seems to refer to spare parts for machines and similar objects. The sense in which the title Spare was chosen is believed to relate to a comment made by his father after Harry's birth that now he had "A heir and a spare". As the second son Harry would only accede to the throne in a fairly unlikely set of circumstances.

So my question is whether there are other words for spare that could have been used here. I am not complaining about the work of the translators, they have read the book and must feel that En la Sombra conveys what they read in the book and they know how Spanish readers would understand their choice better than a more direct translation.

4 Answers 4


Repuesto, a synonym, comes to mind, but it may be even worst in terms of its association to machines.

Suplente is used to describe sports players sitting on the bench or a substitute teacher for instance; that may work better in this case.

Sustituto, a synonym, may work as well.


Titles are often a new invention rather than a translation of the title in the original language. Two examples:

The original title, in french, is A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. The English translation is Remembrance of Things Past.

The original title, in English, is The Fighting Sullivans. The Spanish translation (of the movie) is Eran Cinco Hermanos.

In this case En la Sombra captures the flavor of what "spare" was intended to evoke, but from a very different perspective.

  • 2
    "Remembrance of Things Past" is an old title -- nowadays the literal version "In Search of Lost Time" is used.
    – nanoman
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 16:49
  • 1
    A translation which I hate is that ''La ciudad y los perros'' by Mario Vargas Llosa is called ''The Time of the Hero'' in English, which seems like a borderline spoiler. Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 19:44
  • My last paragraph was intended to express agreement with your answer. I thought En la Sombra was a rather good translation.
    – mdewey
    Commented Jan 9, 2023 at 11:38

"Spare" es una palabra que puede recoger y expresar numerosas acepciones dentro de un mismo contexto, sus diferentes sentidos pueden ir desde una broma o una expresión irónica hasta un concepto más formal. Sin embargo, el título, "En la Sombra", apenas tiene que ver con "Spare", título aquel, más adecuado para el público de habla en español que sabe de los continuos enfrentamientos que el Príncipe Harry mantiene con su familia y como éste, desde "La Sombra", es decir, desde su nuevo hogar, fuera del país, a través de entrevistas y otros medios, intenta contar su verdad "desde adentro", "en la sombra", de la familia Real Británica.

  • Sucesor

  • Reemplanzante

  • Continuador

  • Representante

  • Extra (en el sentido de "Representante Extra")

  • Convidado más ("spare" un en sentido irónico, "un convidado más")

  • Sobrante ("spare" en el sentido de tener sucesores de sobra)

  • Relevo o sustituto generacional

  • Alguien alternativo, en el sentido de tener una opción más.

  • Alguien más para "reponer o cambiar", en este caso por el actual Carlos III.

La elección del título, tendría en inglés, "Spare" más que ver con la anécdota del comentario que hizo Carlos III, al nacer su hijo Harry, mientras que en España la elección del título tendría que ver con la parte de esa historia que más nos ha llegado de Harry, es decir su conflicto familiar, últimamente casi permanente.


Hay un rango de otras posibilidades, pero ''spare'' podría ser ''de sobra'' en ciertos contextos (es decir, no se necesita más).

¿Tienes un lápiz de sobra?

No te preocupes, siempre tengo dinero de sobra.

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