In many ways, the “naming of the racist royals” controversy was a convenient feint for the British media. While they claimed to be disgusted by Omid Scobie and Endgame, they certainly gave a lot of airtime to saying “racism” and blaming the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for all of it. All of that happened so that no one in the British media would have to do a deeper dive into what Endgame really contained: comprehensive, well-researched stories about Prince William, Christian Jones, Dan Wootton and how the Sussexes were screwed over repeatedly in service of William’s ego and reputation. Well, to hear the British media tell it, Omid knew exactly what he was doing when the Dutch edition of the book published King Charles and Kate’s names as the racists cited in Meghan’s letter to Charles. Omid said repeated that he had no idea how the names got in there, despite the fact that at some point, an early draft likely contained the names. Well, now Scobie is doing some clean-up – here’s the relevant section from his new essay in i news, “Omid Scobie: Endgame backlash shows how unwilling we are to confront race issues.”
But the one story which dominated headlines during its release week ended up being about a piece of information not even in the book — the names of any Royal Family members who allegedly had “concerns” about the darkness of the Sussexes’ first child’s skin. While the finished manuscript reveals fresh details about the written correspondence between King Charles and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex regarding potential unconscious bias in the family, the identities of those who took part in these conversations were to remain a mystery.
I was in the middle of TV interviews in New York on 28 November when a single name surfaced on social media, after it was published in the Dutch edition. My stomach flipped. The 403 pages that I had carefully written, edited, and signed off to the printers made it very clear that any names would not be revealed due to legal reasons.
Still confused about what had happened, and unable to keep an eye on the unfolding story during my back-to-back press appearances, I was at the very least relieved to see the Netherlands publisher swiftly announce that copies containing what they described as a “translation error” would be removed from stores. As a second name started circulating, questions were coming in thick and fast; I had many too, but details at this point were still being pieced together and I don’t have the full story.
To be clear, the only publisher I worked directly with was the one covering the US and UK. I spent almost two months with independent British barristers and in-house legal counsel to ensure that every detail in the finished book was legally watertight. Unbeknownst to me at the time, early and uncleared text was provided to the Dutch publisher in order for them to start work on the translation, with the understanding that their translation would be updated to reflect the final version of the book I officially submitted.
Other foreign-language publishers, including in France and Italy, were also doing the same thing, though their versions perfectly replicated the completed work. What I can be sure of is that I edited carefully, took independent legal advice, and the finished book that I submitted was not the version published in the Netherlands.
By the time I wrapped up media efforts in the US, coverage in Britain had reached new levels of hysteria. When I landed in London, reporters were already banging on the doors of my parents’ homes, my car was being followed, violent threats were piling up, and some of the papers were baying for blood. False reports suggested that this was all part of some elaborate PR campaign (an offensive and ridiculous claim, especially given that the book had already been on the front pages for several days before this news had broken).
And here lies the problem. Time and time again I encounter this aggressive resistance to allowing proper discourse about the current state and role of the British monarchy to take place. It’s not as if much of the public don’t want it. The day after Endgame hit shelves, support for the monarchy had fallen to just 52 per cent. Have we really reached the point where any criticism of this publicly funded establishment is considered an “attack”? Shouldn’t we live in a world where we can scrutinise the royals like we do our politicians? Is freedom of speech only reserved for those who cleave to an approved narrative?
[From i news]
I feel sorry for him and I believe that none of this was a stunt or in any way intentional. I think it was as he describes, all the translators began work on very early drafts, drafts which had not gone through full legal, and while the other translations were changed to reflect the drafts which had cleared legal, the Dutch translation did not. When Omid swore that he had never signed off on a book with the names in it, he wasn’t referring to the drafts he turned in of the book. Besides, I fundamentally believe that the names should be out there, and I don’t understand why anyone would be in a legal bind about it, especially given the fact that the names were already well-known by reporters and editors for years. So much of the pearl-clutching in recent weeks has been over-the-top performative.
Photos courtesy of BBC screencap and Scobie’s IG.
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