The name “Omid Scobie” must be one of the least popular ever uttered in Buckingham and St. James Palaces. Not only was the royal reporter’s bestselling 2020 book Finding Freedom a firmly partisan account of Harry and Meghan’s quasi-abdication — and, it later transpired in court, assisted by someone close to the Duchess, so that her “true position… could be communicated to the authors to prevent any further misrepresentation” — but now the man known, without affection, as “Meghan’s mouthpiece” has returned with another certain-to-be-controversial book.
Entitled Endgame — probably not a reference to the Samuel Beckett play — Scobie has stated that the book is not designed to be a sequel to Finding Freedom, and that the Sussexes only play a relatively minor role in it. Instead, he has claimed that it is a no-holds-barred look at the certain state of the British royal family, stuffed full of would-be scandalous revelations.
Scobie will no doubt be crying all the way to the bank when Endgame sells the expected vast number of copies
Thanks to what has been released into the public domain prior to publication tomorrow, we now know that the Prince of Wales is eager to inherit the throne and to “do things the Cambridge way;” that he reportedly believes his younger brother has been brainwashed by “an army of therapists;” that the King has, it is said, been struggling with a personal desire to bring Prince Andrew back into the royal fold, to a point of being tearful at his continued exclusion; and that two members of the royal family allegedly questioned what color Harry and Meghan’s first child would be when it was born.
Understandably, the papers have been full of these stories all weekend, aided by a tearful interview that the author gave to the Sunday Times of London, in which he heartbreakingly stated: “I’m very aware that I’m quite disliked in Britain. The way anything about me is said is as if I’m just the absolute worst person.”
Like Liberace after his successful libel suit, Scobie will no doubt be crying all the way to the bank when Endgame sells the expected vast number of copies. Those of us who have taken a more measured and less sensational approach to the royals — both present-day and historical — may be envious of Scobie, for his privileged access to Meghan, with whom he coyly says he has “mutual friends… [which] definitely helps with getting information and breaking details” — and for his status as perhaps the best-known (and bestselling) royal chronicler of his generation. Previously, writers who dealt with “the Firm” adopted a certain level of deference, knowing that access to the inner circle would be impossible without it, but Scobie has torn up such protocol in favor of high-class, apparently top-provenance scandal.
Yet for all the breathless revelations, we might be forgiven for shrugging and saying “So what?” It will not be news to anyone, after the publication of Spare, that William and Harry do not get on; that Meghan and Kate have never had any kind of relationship to speak of; that Harry’s therapy-intensive Californian lifestyle is regarded with bafflement by his family; and that the King alternates between wanting a reconciliation with his younger son and punishing him for his shameful indiscretions. Throw in revelations about Charles that were old hat decades ago — such as his demanding to have his shoelaces ironed — and the suspicion remains that Endgame may yet be a triumph of hype over substance, with real newsworthy stories thin on the ground. Tellingly, Scobie has refused to name the two members of the royal family who discussed the race of the Sussexes’ baby, saying he cannot reveal their identities for fear of legal action in Britain. Or, the cynic might suggest, because the story may not be accurate.
Courtiers around William are fighting back at the damaging insinuations that he is hand in glove with the media and has briefed a series of damaging stories to the papers about his younger brother. One aide has commented that: “He has always been very tight-lipped when it comes to his family and made clear to anyone within his orbit that he would not do ‘deals’ with the media.” Yet perhaps the King and Prince of Wales — as well as the others denigrated in the book — should remember the unofficial family motto of “Never complain, never explain” and refuse to give Scobie’s innuendo and gossip the publicity that the well-connected author so clearly longs for. Otherwise these relatively tame stories will end up becoming the latest installment in the apparently never-ending War of the Windsors, and the familial reconciliation that looked as if it might be on the cards a couple of weeks ago will be as distant a prospect as ever.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.