As I write this King Charles is in Dubai meeting world leaders tackling the urgent climate change crisis at Cop28 summit. But the world’s press is caught up with what is being pitched as another crisis, that of supposedly outing the two members of the royal household who according to Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy’s Fight for Survival author Omid Scobie commented on the possible colour of baby Archie’s skin before he was born.
For the moment Buckingham Palace remains silent. There will be no statement addressing the accusation I understand, instead they are considering all options.
One of those options of course is legal action. But would King Charles change the long-held Palace credo of “never complain, never explain”?
Of course, we all remember the explosive accusation that has fuelled this current tabloid tsunami. It was made by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in the bombshell interview she and Harry gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2021. Afterwards in another TV interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby as part of the publicity tour for his memoir Spare, Harry backtracked – his wife didn’t mean the “concerns” about Archie’s skin tone were racist!
But the damage was done and ever since the finger has been pointed in many royal directions.
Now, thanks to the Dutch translation of Omid Scobie’s new royal expose Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy’s Fight for Survival, those names have been revealed. For legal reasons Scobie didn’t name them in the English version of the book, he says, but somehow the names made it into the Dutch version, where a reprint is currently being rushed through. Let’s put aside the rather ludicrous suggestion that this could be a translation error and the subsequent interview with the translator who is adamant the names were there in the manuscript she was given by the publishing company, because however it came about, the news has now well and truly broken.
UK journalist Piers Morgan, who loves to weigh in on all things Meghan and Harry, ignored the legal ramifications and repeated the revelation on his TalkTV show with several other UK and US news networks jumping in and doing the same.
It’s a mess. In the UK, the Prince and Princess of Wales were heckled by reporters seeking a rebuttal as they arrived for The Royal Variety performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They too kept schtum, as William elegantly guided his wife inside with a protective arm around her back.
When a similar media volley was fired from a reporter at an engagement in 2021, Prince William sternly declared “we’re not a racist family”.
With the new Royal Albert Hall statues of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip watching on, one wonders what William’s grandmother would have done. Her response to any of the scuttle butting surrounding the Harry and Meghan debacle was always steely and that is surely what is needed now. A firm denial of the accusation, which if untrue is certainly defamatory …And if not that, a statement putting this rumour mongering in its place.
Of course, a new royal book from Omid Scobie was always going to create a storm. This is the journalist who co-authored Finding Freedom in 2020 giving Meghan and Harry’s viewpoint of what Scobie suggests happened when the Duke and Duchess quit royal working life and moved to California. Scobie always claimed the Sussexes had no input in that book, but evidence revealed in court proceedings later proved that indeed Meghan was feeding the author information via her then Communication Secretary Jason Knauf.
Scobie doesn’t name his sources. Endgame draws on “more that 11 years of reporting, conversations, interviews and experiences from my time covering the royal beat” he notes. And once more he claims that Meghan and Harry are not sources for the book.
Other potentially damaging claims suggest the Princess of Wales is “cold if she doesn’t like someone”, that William leaked stories to the press about Harry and also ignored his brother’s texts when the family were rushing to Balmoral to be by the late Queen’s bedside when she was dying and more.
Mostly the book is Scobie’s telling of a what he believes to be a monarchy on the brink of collapse, which I think is frankly far off the mark. Opinion polls suggest the public feels King Charles is doing pretty well and we would all surely rather the focus gets back to his climate change activism at the Dubai summit where real change could be effected.
In the royal correspondent world we are certainly all scratching our heads, wondering who Scobie’s sources are. But until he names them none of what he says can be verified, which is worth remembering.
Unless of course the Palace takes a stand and calls it out. We are all watching this space.