Days after its Nov. 28 release, Omid Scobie’s royal tell-all, Endgame, is setting Buckingham Palace abuzz.
After multiple reports claimed two royal household members had allegedly voiced concerns about “how dark” Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s son Archie’s skin would be after he was born, the BBC finally named King Charles and Kate Middleton on Friday as the members in question.
“Dutch editions of the book named the king and the Princess of Wales as the two members of the royal family who allegedly raised the issue of the skin color of Meghan’s first child,” the BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said on Radio 4’s Today. “The circumstances and context of the discussion and the context in which the questions are raised is not clear.”
While their names were already out there for 24 hours in several publications, from the Daily Mail to the New York Times, this was the first acknowledgment by the U.K.’s media outlet of record. The BBC had initially said on Thursday it wouldn’t be releasing the names; however, the news organization made an about-face on Friday.
This change prompted Nick Robinson, a presenter on Today, to clarify an earlier report, according to the Telegraph.
“To be clear, I told listeners about an hour ago, the BBC was not naming them, we are now naming the king and the Princess of Wales as being at the center of those allegations,” he said.
The bombshell revelation about Archie’s skin color first broke in a March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey. As Scobie writes in Endgame, Meghan and Charles had written letters that credited the duo as the ones who raised the concerns.
Their names ended up being printed in the Dutch translation of Endgame, though it’s still unclear how.
As the Dutch publisher scrambled to recall the books due to the “error” (revised versions will return to shelves on Dec. 8) on Thursday, it was Piers Morgan who first took to the British airwaves to publicly name the royals — while also coming to their defense.
“The royals who were named in this book are King Charles and Catherine [Middleton], Princess of Wales,” Morgan said during a segment on Piers Morgan Uncensored. In defense of stating their names outright, he continued, “If Dutch people wandering into a bookshop can see these names, then you, the British people who actually pay for the royal family, are entitled to know, too.”
Morgan added, “I don’t believe any racist comments were ever made by any of the royal family, and until there is actual evidence of those comments being made, I will never believe it.”
The author doubles down
In a Thursday interview with Britain’s ITV’s This Morning, Scobie said he was frustrated that the names were printed in the Dutch version. He also denied that the whole thing was a publicity stunt, as some reports have claimed.
“It’s still being investigated,” the author claimed. “I wrote and edited the English version of the book with one publisher [HarperCollins] and that was then licensed to other publishers,” including the Dutch version’s publisher, Xander Uitgevers.
In a statement to Yahoo Entertainment, HarperCollins confirmed that it “had no involvement with the Dutch edition” of Endgame, stressing that the translation is “not published by HarperCollins or its affiliates.”
“I’m as frustrated as everyone else,” Scobie said. “I make it very clear in this book that I, in every way possible, want to adhere to the laws on this subject. It’s why I’ve been very careful in how it’s described in the book and what I’ve said in the public domain before.”
To make his point clear, he stressed, “I have never submitted a book that had their names in it. I can only talk about my version.”
The Dutch translator weighs in
The woman who translated the Dutch version of Scobie’s book, Saskia Peeters, insists that Charles and Kate’s name were indeed on the manuscript she received from the book's Dutch publisher. She further denies that she or fellow translator Nellie Keukellar-van Rijsbergen added the names during the transcription process.
“As a translator, I translate what is in front of me,” Peeters told the Daily Mail. “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.”
In her “many years” of translating English books, she said, “this is the first time anything like this has happened."
It’s unclear whether the Dutch translation was in fact wrong or not (the book’s American version does not name the family members) and Xander Uitgevers has not commented on how the names wound up in the print run. However, the publisher has since removed the books from shelves, citing an “error.”
“The rectified edition of Eindstrijd by Omid Scobie will be in bookstores on Friday, December 8,” the publisher said in a statement to Yahoo. “Xander Uitgevers temporarily removed the book from sale, due to an error that occurred in the Dutch edition.”
Scobie on why he left out the names
When asked about the alleged names in a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment before the naming scandal became public, Scobie confirmed that he knew the identities but couldn’t reveal them due to legal reasons. To do so, he said, would violate journalistic integrity.
“The fact of the matter is, in order to report something like that you would need to be able to show and tell,” he told Yahoo. “There had to be physical, substantial evidence, and whoever has those letters would be the one that could do it.”
He stressed that having clear, indisputable evidence was “really important” for the book.
“There had to be evidence, they had to be proven. There had to be multiple sources or details to back things up with this,” he said. “Although, it's definitely an issue I would have liked to have dived into even deeper, because I do think it raises a lot of questions — this kind of continued ignoring of the matter, when ultimately, this is an institution that should be representative and welcoming to all backgrounds or conversations, but continues to ignore large areas.
“I do think [complicit racism at Buckingham Palace] is important to talk about,” he added. “But ultimately, there’s also a certain code of conduct for any journalist. And so I wanted to be really transparent about why those names are[n’t] in there, but of course, in an ideal world, you would want the full picture.”
Editor’s note: While Scobie said, “Those names are in there,” based on the context of his comments we believe he just misspoke and meant “aren’t.”