Ever since 2021’s absurd Oprah Winfrey interview, in which Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, coyly suggested that a member of the British royal family had speculated about what color her then-unborn first child’s skin would be, there has been an egregious fascination with the identity of the notorious figure known only as “the royal racist.”
Speculation has swirled around virtually every member of the Firm — if you want to edify yourself further, the words “royal family” and “racist” entered into the right search engine will eventually lead you to the probable culprit. But although their identity has been hiding in plain sight for a considerable period of time, there has been a refusal to name this man or woman. That is, save only for Prince Harry observing pointedly that the culprit was neither the Queen nor Prince Philip.
The revelatory edition has been recalled and pulped (existing copies will surely be worth a fortune!)
This unhappy state of affairs was all set to continue with the publication of Omid Scobie’s Endgame this week. Scobie and his publishers were metaphorically rubbing their hands together with the Agatha Christie-esque revelation that there was not one but two royal racists, waiting to be exposed in their villainy.
Yet the author refrained from naming the guilty parties, citing vague concerns about “UK laws” that would prevent him from telling his avid public who these monstrous sinners were. Until, that is, it turned out that the Dutch translation — of all things — has revealed the identities of both royals. The details were included in early copies sent out to journalists and reviewers — in other words, the very people who are in the greatest position to influence public opinion and to break the news.
Naturally, Scobie and his publishers are claiming that this is a terrible error, done without any knowledge on their parts whatsoever. The Dutch publisher Xander has removed the copies of the book from shelves temporarily while the revelatory edition is recalled and pulped (existing copies will surely be worth a fortune!). Meanwhile an apparently chastened Scobie has appeared on Dutch television to say, “The book is in several languages, and unfortunately I do not speak Dutch. But if there are translation errors, the publisher will correct them. I wrote the English version. There was no version from me in which names were mentioned.”
“I wrote the English version” almost implies that there is a huge international sweatshop factory of pro-Sussex chroniclers, each churning out Harry and Meghan propaganda in their own idiosyncratic fashion. But leaving aside the oddity of Scobie’s comments, the question now is whether the identities of the royal racists will leak in the next few hours or days. Certainly, one of the names being suggested on social media is incendiary; the other, less so (and, dare one say it, more predictable).
But what those at Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and elsewhere will be asking this morning is how on earth these names appeared in the Dutch version if, indeed, Scobie omitted them from the English-language original? Either this is the work of an unusually mischievous translator with an axe to grind against the Royal Family. Or someone, somewhere, has ensured that the desired revelations have reached the public domain by an unusually circuitous but — in this brave new world of mass, instant communication — effective route.
To misquote Oscar Wilde, if one name had been found in the translated version of Endgame, it might be seen as a misfortune, but for both royal racists to be outed looks simply like carelessness. Amidst what is surely the most tawdry and least edifying publicity campaign for a book since, well, Spare, chances are that, when the identity of the nefarious duo becomes common knowledge, there will be further outrage and pained public statements. Any chance of the fragile truce between Harry, Meghan and (most of) the rest of the Royal Family that looked like it might come to pass will be wrenched apart.
It is hard not to feel, in the circumstances, that someone, whoever they may be, has been orchestrating this particular embarrassment with the clear intention of taking revenge on those that they believe have wronged them. Suggestions on a postcard, not necessarily postmarked Montecito, to the usual address, please.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.