The reaction from royal insiders today to Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy’s Fight for Survival is the most telling indicator of its much less sensational and damaging impact than Finding Freedom: an almost audible sigh of relief.
Despite Omid Scobie’s intention to produce a no-holds-barred, game-changing, unsparing analysis of the royals, their uncertain future and unclear purpose, their otherworldly extravagances, and how ruthlessly and ineptly they operate, his new royal tome, published today, is not as explosive as it imagines itself to be. Neither is it as full of scandal and revelation as the dish-filled biography of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Scobie wrote with Carolyn Durand. Indeed, at times it reads rather like an overlong opinion piece on the subject of why the author believes the royal family should be abolished (spoiler: it won’t), and a collection of various score-settling media-world and palace beefs. The reviews are coming in—and are mostly thumbs-down and sneering.
However, there are some genuine insights. The best of these seem (unsurprisingly) to come from the Sussex camp and include details on how Harry felt at being side-lined from the family during the queen’s death, Harry’s view of his relationship with his brother and father, and an account of an exchange of letters between Meghan and King Charles that name the royal racists (there are two not one) who questioned the skin color of Harry and Meghan’s then unborn first child, Archie. Scobie says he knows who the two are—it is unknown if they are both royals, or one a royal, and one a member of the royal household. In the book, Scobie says Kate Middleton and Prince William knew about the royal racists and resisted King Charles’ request they reach out and talk to Harry and Meghan about it.
Charles was “horrified” by how Meghan felt about what was said. Scobie is also highly critical of Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, in two race-related passages. The royal racism scandal—the names still unknown, whatever was actually said still unknown, no apologies made, the inevitable public debate and outrage as yet unplayed out—remains a highly charged, potentially extremely damaging issue for the royals.
Whatever else, Endgame is a useful compendium of just how insanely feud- and machination-filled, and weird and arcane, royal life remains in 2023—which is why it caused plenty of pre-publication palace palpitations. Scobie sketches how spokespeople and aides operate for their masters with a single-minded intensity, which often includes the wanton denigration of others. For all its outward finery, Scobie shows over and over again how ugly the inner workings of Buckingham Palace are.
So, what could this book—about where the royal family finds itself after the death of Queen Elizabeth, about Harry’s fractured relationship with his family, and William and Charles’ growing rivalry—possibly contain that we did not already know? Well, quite a bit, even if the palace can rest easy. We read it as a form of pure public service, and below is a round-up of all its hottest, and even silliest, revelations, incisive analyses, rumors, and sources being their absolute bitchiest. Royal fans, take a seat, and get the butler to bring you some popcorn!
First, a catch-up over all the stories so far, and extracts and leaks over the last few days.
William and Charles: the new feud
The really fascinating overarching theme of the book is Scobie’s rigorously illustrated account of the rivalry between William and Charles. He says William doesn’t think his father is “competent” enough to handle the job and that Charles has seethed at what he perceives as William’s attempts to upstage him and depict him as a “transitional” king.
One Charles aide is quoted as saying of reports that it was William who pushed Prince Andrew out of the family: “William, or his staff, I should say, will always be quick to play up his efforts…There is an almost frenzied push for William to be seen as ready for the throne, despite an entire generation coming beforehand.”
“Though they share similar passions and interests, their style of leadership is completely different,” Scobie writes of Charles and William, highlighting William’s decisive response to the scandal of Lady Susan Hussey, the late queen’s lady-in-waiting, who was forced to apologize and resign after she repeatedly asked Ngozi Fulani, a Black charity boss, where she was “really” from at a palace event.
Charles reportedly resents William—and his Earthshot Awards—for moving in on the environmental issues that were once his domain. Charles leads with his head and heart, Scobie writes—William is “colder,” and “has no problem taking prisoners along the way.”
Kensington Palace sources are cited as saying that William just wants to be sure his image is no longer affected by “poor decisions” made by other members of the family including Charles, while Scobie describes the two courts as “hives of competing agendas.”
Scobie says the king’s team were “furious over William’s effrontery” when, on the way home from a “tone deaf” Caribbean tour, William’s aides told journalists the experience would inform his “blueprint” for his own kingship in the future.
The Fulani scandal, said Scobie, shows the royal family “lacks the agility and improvisational thinking to change with a rapidly transforming world.” Scobie goes on to criticize the royals’ inability to deal with race- and diversity-related issues at the palace and within the Commonwealth.
“I would be lying if I said it’s not a difficult environment to be a person of color,” a non-white member of the royal household staff told Scobie. “I have not witnessed outright, explicit racism, but I have certainly experienced, and seen others experience, microaggressions and prejudice at work. This place still has a long way to go when it comes to everyone working here being able to feel completely comfortable.”
Kate and William’s coronation video focused on them and their kids very deliberately, a source close to William said. “The prince is aware of the huge amount of popularity and good favor that he and the princess receive… For them to take advantage of that only benefits the entire institution.”
There is no more persuading the public that William and Charles are always in agreement, Scobie says. Charles is seen as a “transitional” monarch, and William is waiting, knowing the public much prefer him to his dad. Kensington Palace now regularly shares that William is doing things his own way, a former senior courtier said. “There has been a sense that William is slowly trying to separate himself from his father. His popularity is high, and he doesn’t want his father’s lack of it to affect that.”
William and Harry: forget it
We learn that William “considers his brother an outsider,” and Scobie adds, “No longer useful as a helpful distraction or collateral damage, William had been wanting to distance himself from his brother ever since Harry’s marriage to Meghan—whom [William] took a disliking to from the start.” A source close to the Sussexes told Scobie, “William shifted away from acting like a brother and became more like someone only focused [on the crown].”
A source close to Prince William, speaking on how he feels about Prince Harry, said, “There’s a huge amount of anger there. He feels betrayed and sad about the situation. But he also doesn’t agree with the things his brother feels he has done. He feels he has lost Harry and doesn’t want to know this version of him.”
That version, countered a Spencer family source, is simply, “Harry being a man who has stepped outside of the institution and sees things in a different light. They will never see eye to eye at this point. They’re on completely different sides… that won’t change.”
In February and March of this year, Harry asked a friend to arrange a conversation with William—his overtures were ignored. The damage to their relationship is “irreparable.”
A friend of Harry’s said, “Though he hasn’t found closure with his family he accepted that things are unlikely to change, particularly with his brother—who refuses to even properly talk with him.”
While Charles has tried to keep the door open to Harry, he is also described as being “cold and brief” in an awkward call with Harry after the Netflix documentary Harry and Meghan came out, evicting him from Frogmore Cottage as “punishment” for his memoir, and only invited Harry to the coronation at the last minute. His wife Camilla has “no relationship” with Prince Harry, Scobie says.
Harry told a friend,” I’m ready to move past it. Whether I get an apology or accountability, who knows? Who really cares at this point?”
Kate and Meghan: ice, ice, baby
Scobie says Meghan had originally hoped she and Kate could bond, but Kate “can be cold if she doesn’t like someone,” said a source. “She wasn’t a fan” of Meghan’s from the start, said another. “She spent more time talking about Meghan than to her.” Kate has “jokingly shivered” when Meghan’s name has come up. The two women have had “almost zero direct communication, bar a few short pleasantries, since late 2019.”
Meghan was aggrieved the palace didn’t correct the record over rumors she had made Kate cry in a row over bridesmaid dresses for her wedding (Meghan says it was the other way round, and Kate sent her flowers as an apology).
For Kate, relations are so bad, “there’s no going back,” even in regards to Harry. “She was close to Harry, and she will always look back fondly on those moments, and the relationship he had with their children,” a source who knows the Waleses told Scobie. “But to her, there is no way she could ever trust them after all their interviews.”
Some reports say Scobie is critical of Kate, but the criticism is part of a wider, and astute analysis, of her royal ascent, and the changing phases of her royal life and significance.
Charles ‘cold’ towards Harry
The much-publicized recent birthday call between Harry and Charles signals a détente, after long periods of silence. After his highly critical memoir, Spare, was published, Scobie writes that Harry reached out to Charles to discuss unresolved issues. “It was an awkward conversation, but he knew if he didn’t make those first steps, there would never be any progress, a friend of Harry said. “There were no raised voices, no arguments… but the King was cold and brief rather than open to any proper dialogue.”
During a conversation just hours after Prince Philip’s funeral on Sept 19, 2022. Harry confronted Charles and William about why nothing was done on Meghan’s behalf to rebut the palace staff's bullying allegations made against her. “You must understand, darling boy, the institution can’t just tell the media what to do.”
Harry, a source said, “was gutted that his family would watch this kind of dirty game play out.” Scobie writes that the palace’s report on the allegations “remain unknown to the public, unseen by the Sussexes or their lawyers… somewhere in a vault in Buckingham Palace.”
Harry and Meghan: doing it their way
Unsurprisingly, the fullest and most intimate material in the book comes care of Scobie’s special, best-sourced subjects, and the section about Harry and Meghan includes the best writing in the book—a gripping account of Harry being frozen out on the day of the queen’s death by the rest of the royals.
What else? Harry and Meghan don’t have staff in the early mornings, taking care of their kids, and taking them to and picking them up from their schooling.
Harry has gone very California, working out, employing a personal trainer, going on hikes and bike rides, having acupuncture, and taking ice baths.
The palace took six months to confirm Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet’s title change. “They see the way their children are treated differently, and that’s hard to feel comfortable with,” a friend of the Sussexes told Scobie.
A friend of the couple told Scobie: “Not one step” of the last few years “could be predicted… they were flying by the seat of their pants at times. Those first two years outside of the U.K. were scary, stressful, and while full of hope, incredibly draining. It took a long time to be able to just sit back and think, ‘Phew, we’re going to be OK.’’”
Meghan felt especially rejected when Charles let it be known she wouldn’t be welcome at Balmoral on the day of Queen Elizabeth’s death. It wasn’t protocol, as Charles claimed (giving as the reason that Kate wasn’t going either; in fact, she was staying at home because of her children’s first day at their new school the same day).
Of his various media-related lawsuits, a source close to Harry said that he plans “on making sure this does not take over my life… I want to see it through to its conclusion.” He wants the cases resolved by 2025. A source close to Harry said, “This is a tough commitment, but he has the balls to take them on… He’s never going to back down. He spent ten years in the military and finds it very hard to turn a blind eye to injustice. He is determined to see this through.” He wants an “ethical and reliable press”—perhaps meaning one that just writes nice things about him and his wife.
William: his marriage and alleged affair
A friend of Prince William’s said of the rumors that he’d had an affair with Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley: “Dealing with nasty, untrue rumors… wouldn’t you be filled with rage? It’s been very difficult for him. And for Kate. But I truly believe these things make you stronger.”
William and Kate’s marriage, a source said, “is a partnership, an alliance, and a lifetime commitment. They work as a team.” William is “incredibly proud” of Kate’s growth as a senior member of the family. “It’s all about support, and both feel supported by one another.”
In private, William’s temper “flares” closely resembling his dad. A former aide told Scobie, “William is a man that likes to get things done, done quickly, done efficiently… In the process of making that happen, he can definitely be sharp….” There is a colder side to him, “as he gets closer to the top job.”
Charles: the diva
Scobie recalls Charles famously losing it over a leaky pen last year, and said his demanding, petulant behavior is well known. He likes soft-boiled eggs (“four minutes—no more, no less, or they’ll be sent back to the kitchen in infantile fury”), thousand thread count bed linen when he travels (it must be perfectly steamed). There are “temper tantrums” if his pajamas aren’t pressed; when his shoelaces are threadbare they are replaced with freshly ironed pairs. You may have heard his toothpaste is squeezed onto his toothbrush for him (a one-inch strip!), but Charles also insists it comes from a “crested silver dispenser.”
Queen Camilla says it all with her friends
Queen Camilla is reportedly friends with Jeremy Clarkson, and stayed silent after he wrote an infamous column saying he had dreamed of Meghan Markle being “paraded naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds…throw lumps of excrement at her.”
Camilla and Piers Morgan are also close friends, contends Scobie, sharing a mutual disdain for all things “woke.” Behind closed doors Camilla “rolls her eyes… when topics such as gender identity, unconscious racial bias, and even veganism are raised.”
“It’s all lefty nonsense to her,” a former aide revealed. “Even gluten-free or dairy-free options on a restaurant menu irk her.”
Camilla “quietly thanked” Morgan for defending the royals after Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview. “Camilla will never publicly comment on anything, or speak ill of others, but she will always know someone who can do that for her,” a former aide told Scobie.
Morgan vigorously denied Scobie’s claims Monday. “For the record, I have never had a single phone conversation with Queen Camilla,” Morgan said. “Now he says as a fact in his book that we have regular phone conversations—that I personally know is an absolute lie. I did however, as I said publicly at the time, have conversations with several other members of the royal family, but it wasn’t Queen Camilla.”
Meanwhile, a friend of Prince Harry—after he trashed Camilla in Spare, and in interviews about the book—says he doesn’t see her as the “evil stepmother,” adding their relationship is “respectful… and kept at a safe distance.”
Camilla, another source said, isn’t so forgiving in the other direction. ”To say she wasn’t hurt by what he wrote (in Spare) would not be the truth. But she won’t retaliate.”
When Meghan called Omid
After Scobie was subjected to racist abuse, Meghan called him in late summer 2018, he writes. “I just wanted to say hi, see how you’re doing,” she told him. Their then-press officer had told Meghan and Harry about the harassment and threats he had received. Scobie writes, “Here was someone checking in in a journalist she still only really knew through a byline,” when the royals weren’t doing the same for her as she suffered abuse online and in the press.
“They didn’t see Meghan as important enough to care for—simple as that,” said a friend of Meghan’s. “No matter who asked, no matter what was pointed out, no matter how loudly she told them, or we told them, that she was struggling…. she was expected to shut up and deal with it quietly.”