Prince Harry must act. Only he can silence the racist storm engulfing the Royal Family.
If he has any residual sense of duty to the family that raised him, he should distance himself from “Endgame”, a vindictive volume of royal gossip, innuendo and plain nastiness, and repudiate the racist allegations made by its author, Omid Scobie, against two senior royals Scobie chooses not to name.
Following what is claimed to have been an unfortunate error in the publication of the Dutch edition of the book, the King and the Princess of Wales were promptly identified worldwide as alleged racists, without a scrap of evidence worthy of the name and in defiance of the truth, a truth which is the complete opposite of such a nasty smear.
I reported on the Prince of Wales, now King, around this country and throughout the world.
I doubt there is anyone alive who has done more at every stage of his life to promote inclusion within the ethnically and culturally diverse United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth of 56 very different nations of which he is now the Head.
I never shrank from criticising the then Prince of Wales, when I considered criticism was fair and justified, but I would never have accused him of racism for the simple reason that it would have been palpably and demonstrably untrue.
The same goes for the Princess of Wales, who never put a foot wrong as Duchess of Cambridge and has graced her new role as Princess of Wales with grace, tact and charm to all she has met, her willing work among all sectors of society a vivid testament to her goodwill to everyone, of whatever background.
Accusing anyone of racism -- whether a royal personage or one of us -- is pernicious. It is an easy charge to make but difficult to refute because you have to prove a negative.
Playing the race card may win a cheap trick -- and boost book sales -- but it is nasty, cruel and destructive when all the evidence from the lives of two people who live under the media microscope, the King and Princess Kate, indicates an absence of prejudice of any kind.
In his book, Scobie castigates most senior members of the Royal Family, clearly suggesting that they are unworthy of their roles and should step aside and allow the House of Windsor to crumble to dust: hence the title “Endgame”.
The 42-year-old former gossip columnist has no hesitation to pronounce his death sentence on a monarchy that goes back more than 1000 years and has presided over this country, more or less uninterrupted, to the great and continuing benefit of its people.
In Scobie’s poisonous prose, only Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, are spared his vituperative condemnation of the Royal Family. Scobie relentlessly sees every family dispute through a Sussex lens.
So far, there has been a deafening silence from Montecito, California, where Harry, Meghan, their two children Archie and Lilibet and their “rescue chickens” reside in a hilltop fortress guarded 24-7 by security teams.
Prince Harry should issue a statement making it clear that he does not accuse his relatives of racism.
He said as much in an interview in January with ITN’s Tom Bradby.
Prince Harry blamed the Press for conflating Meghan’s 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which Meghan disclosed conversations between unnamed family members and Prince Harry during which they allegedly raised with him the skin colour of her then unborn first child, with an allegation of racism, even though, by any objective standard, it clearly was.
Now is the time for the Prince to clear up this highly damaging mess. If he has any affection for his family, he should denounce Scobie’s venomous charge of racism as being wholly without substance.
As well as accusing her of racism, the book also delivers withering personal criticisms of the Princess of Wales, particularly painful for his brother, Prince William.
It is difficult to imagine how deeply upset, indeed appalled, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, would be now to see her beloved sons at loggerheads when she brought them up to always support and love each other. For her sake alone, Prince Harry should take urgent steps to open up a path to reconciliation to his brother and father.
For his part, the King would -- I am quite sure -- welcome Prince Harry back into the royal fold. The Prodigal son is always welcomed back to the home of the father - once he has realised the error of his ways and is genuinely contrite. In the Biblical parable, the father famously “fell upon his neck” -- i.e. embraced the returning errant son.
But there is more than peace in the family at stake here. And urgent action is required.
If the damage to the monarchy is not to be lasting and ingrained, Prince Harry must speak up or see an institution that has been a force for inclusion, equality and a fair chance for everyone become severely diminished as a direct result.
Harry should also explain how correspondence between Meghan and the King, when he was Prince of Wales, in which she complained about the attitude of other family members towards her, came to be relied upon by Scobie to support the vile allegation of racism.
It is hard to see right now what Buckingham Palace can do to right the wrongs against two people, cruelly and unjustly accused as racists.
Here’s Harry’s chance to do the right thing. I hope he takes it, for everyone’s sake.
*A version of this article first appeared in the Sunday Express