Blasting into the landscape of Royal literature, journalist Omid Scobie’s book ‘Endgame’ was recently released to much controversy. A book intended to detail tensions within the Royal Family took an unexpected turn. The Dutch edition of the book was pulled from shelves after including the names of senior royals who allegedly voiced concerns about the potential skin colour of Prince Harry and Meghan’s (then unborn) son. The royals named by Scobie were King Charles and Kate Middleton.
The latest fiasco has reignited debate on race and the Royal Family. The allegation raises several questions: Firstly, how was this exposé leaked? Secondly, is the Royal Family racist? And finally, what does this mean for their reputation?
The saga is drenched with political significance; Royalists defend the stability, tradition, and heritage that the Monarchy offers, while Reformists align with Harry and Meghan in offering a more progressive outlook.
From the announcement of their engagement in November 2017, the couple have been divisive figures. They faced both criticism and praise for being an American-British couple, speaking openly on mental health, and highlighting racial issues. After working a short lived period as serving members of the Royal Family, Harry and Meghan stepped down from their roles in January of 2020. A fracture in the institution, monumental in Palace history. The split caused much speculation: were there racial undertones at play in this decision?
In a broadly circulated 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview, Harry and Meghan candidly spoke of the Palace. In the most shocking revelation, citing that members of the Royal Family had expressed concerns about the skin tone of their unborn son. A suggestive claim interpreted by the press as an accusation of racism, exposing an apparently darker side to the picture-perfect Royals. Following the interview, Prince William publicly announced that, “we’re very much not a racist family.”
“We’re very much not a racist family.”Prince William
Harry and Meghan never clarified the exact scope of the conversation. The public could only speculate and debate whether the royals were racist, guilty of unconscious bias, or totally blameless.
Interestingly, in Harry’s divisive autobiography ‘Spare’, released earlier this year, race was not mentioned, and therefore Scobie’s actions have reignited a debate that has been dormant for a while.
The mysterious appearance of these names in the Dutch copy of Scobie’s book begs the question of how this publishing error occurred. Scobie initially vowed that he never wrote an edition of the book containing these names. Contradicting this claim, it has now been clarified that an earlier version of the text was sent to the Dutch publisher. By labelling the Royals, Scobie casts a shadow across the two very prominent individuals. Crucially, the accusations taints two generations of the Palace.
It is important to note, however, that the claim of racism is unclear. In an interview to promote Spare, Harry denied accusing his family of racism, saying that “it was the British press that did that.”
This debate is heavily charged. Royalists immediately jump to the defense of an institution they see as under threat. Conservative MP, Bob Seely, described the allegation as the ‘most poisonously insidious…the catch-all slur of the modern era’. Commentators like Piers Morgan suggest that the couple are ‘trashing Britain’, while the book is ‘spiteful and lie filled’.
The skin-colour allegation is not the only controversial claim made by Scobie’s book. He portrays the supposedly united father-son duo of King Charles and Prince William, as being conflict with their opposing agendas. Prince William is portrayed as ’ambitious, ruthless, and utterly impatient for his turn on the throne’, while King Charles struggles to maintain unity within the institution. Scobie also encourages sympathy towards Harry and Meghan who he says were used as scapegoats to redirect negative attention from other, more established, family members.
What are the implications of this? On a personal level, it makes reconciliation between Harry and Meghan and the established family even more improbable. From a professional lens, Scobie has risen to greater prominence, but now carries a questionable reputation following his lack of discretion. While, from a public relations stance, the Royal family will struggle to maintain a united front and quell the accusations of racism.
On a personal level, it makes reconciliation between Harry and Meghan and the established family even more improbable.
The integration of Harry and Meghan into the Royal family could have conveyed the openness, tolerance, and progressivism of the institution, suiting the modern era. Hence, the alienation of the couple begs the question of whether the institution is really in step with the present day.
In an era of social justice, this topic evokes visceral responses on both sides.
Microaggressions, unconscious bias, and generational trauma have all become ingrained in the rhetoric used to discuss race. Regardless of the accuracy of the allegations, claims such as these undoubtedly tarnish the Royals’ reputation.