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Writer Scobie accused of ‘stunt to sell books’ over naming of race row royals

Harry and Meghan say an unidentified member of the monarchy asked about how dark Archie’s skin would be (Jordan Pettitt/PA)
Harry and Meghan say an unidentified member of the monarchy asked about how dark Archie’s skin would be (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Author Omid Scobie has been accused of being behind a “stunt to sell books” during a television interview where he claimed never to have named the two race row royals in his expose.

This Morning co-host Craig Doyle quizzed the journalist about his royal family book Endgame, saying it seemed “bizarre” to the public that two members of the monarchy, accused of racism by commentators, had been identified in the Dutch version of his book.

Copies of Mr Scobie’s book were pulled from the shelves in the Netherlands on publication day on Tuesday, when they were found to have named two members of the royal family alleged to have raised “concerns” about the skin colour of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son.

Broadcaster Piers Morgan took the decision to name the pair on his TalkTV show on Wednesday night, saying the British public had a right to know as Dutch readers were aware of their identities.

Later the website Mail Online claimed to have found the translator of the book’s Dutch edition, with the individual telling the website: “The names of the royals were there in black and white. I did not add them. I just did what I was paid to do and that was translate the book from English into Dutch.”

Endgame claims the names were discussed in letters exchanged between the Duchess of Sussex and the King, and media lawyer Mark Stephens called on the Sussexes to take legal action to “stanch” their distribution.

Mr Stephens, a partner with law firm Howard Kennedy, said: “If Harry and Meghan are really interested in privacy, as they profess, it is pretty surprising that they haven’t sought an injunction to prevent this information being revealed further either by Omid Scobie or anyone else.”

Doyle asked his guest how the names appeared in the Dutch version of Endgame: “That just seems bizarre to everybody out there because you don’t accidentally put in a name, and you can’t put it down to mistranslation, can you?

“It does feel like a stunt to sell books – which I understand.”

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Piers Morgan has named the two race row royals (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Scobie said he wrote the English language version of his book but does not speak the other languages it was translated into, “so the only time you hear about the book is once it’s come out in the public domain. I’m as frustrated as everyone else”.

He claimed: “The reality, though, is that this is information that is not privy just to me, journalists across Fleet Street have known those names for a long time.

“I have never submitted a book that had their names in it, so I can only talk about my version.”

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, Harry and Meghan alleged an unidentified member of the monarchy – but not Queen Elizabeth II or her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh – had raised “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”.

Mr Scobie states in his book that two people, not one as Meghan said, made the comment about Archie, widely interpreted as a racist remark.

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Media lawyer Mark Stephens. Peter Macdiarmid/PA

Mr Stephens said legal action was not open to the monarchy as it would identify those royals alleged to have made the comments.

“Harry and Meghan can do so without any difficulty, and if they believe this information should not be in the public domain it would be a way of demonstrating that and possibly a route to rapprochement with London,” said the lawyer.

He added: “They’ve been awfully silent, they haven’t even condemned Omid Scobie and it’s also extremely unclear how a translator puts names into a transcript that were not there for translation.

“It’s an astonishing proposition that a translator has inserted names, the names must have been there otherwise he wouldn’t have translated them.”

Mr Scobie has recently dismissed reports he is Meghan’s “pal” but there is still speculation about whether the Sussexes helped him with Endgame.

The book asserts that the future of the monarchy is “in a crisis” and it is in a “fight for survival”.

Craig Doyle, co-host of the ITV1 show This Morning, said to Mr Scobie: “A lot of it feels like a bit of a hatchet job against the royal family.”

He went on to ask what the journalist’s relationship with Meghan and Harry was like, and Mr Scobie replied: “I’m not their friend, I’ve never sat down with Meghan privately for interviews, I’ve never exchanged information with Meghan, I’m not in their private world in any way whatsoever.”