Is this it? Seriously? Omid Scobie’s Endgame promises to show us the dark side of the royals, to sacrifice the insider status which you can only get “by continuing to ignore the ongoing constitutional corruption in the Palace’s inner sanctum”. “In the past I, like others, have held back on revealing some of the darker truths at the heart of the institution of the British monarchy,” he writes. “Part of this book will burn my bridges for good. But to tell the full story, there’s no holding back. Not anymore. We’re in the endgame.” The one thing all this does reveal is that poor Omid can’t write for nuts.
But now he’s letting loose, what do we find? That Charles has his shoelaces ironed and his toothpaste dispensed by the inch from a silver crested squeezer. That William can’t be doing with his brother, that Kate and Meghan were told to channel Diana’s style, that William sometimes sets himself at odds with his father and has a bad temper. Oh and that Meghan absolutely didn’t use the word “racist” when it came to those unfortunate queries about what her baby would look like; she just didn’t like the “tone”.
On a scale of royal revelations where Princess Diana’s ones to Andrew Morton were a 10, this would scrape a 1.5. Or maybe a 2, since on the question of Prince Andrew, we find that it is Charles “was tearful over fears for the shamed duke’s mental health” and it was hard-hearted William who wanted him pushed into the cold. Except shortly afterwards, we learn that they are actually in “lockstep” (a word he is fond of) on Andy. We also find that Harry got very upset about being given a dress uniform without the proper epaulettes for the Queen’s funeral.
And the title? Endgame is premised on the notion that royals fear for the future of the monarchy, now the Queen is gone. “It’s a worry that is discussed on a regular basis”. I’m not a royal watcher, but I could have told you that gratis.
The substance is old hat. So, Kate “shivers” at the mention of Meghan? Yeah? Scobie also repeats The Times’ revelations about the cash donations to Charles’s charities and adds nothing, except that lessons have been learned.
For a royal correspondent, he is weirdly uninformed about the basics
For a royal correspondent, he is weirdly uninformed about the basics. So, he makes the usual mistake of giving someone a title plus both Christian name and surname, when, if he’d ever worked on Londoner’s Diary, he’d know this is only done with the sons of Dukes and Marquises. He tells us that Charles was “anointed” head of the CofE; nope, he was anointed king – the ceremony predates the Reformation. All small stuff, but it makes him look clueless.
We learn an awful lot – a great deal more than we need – about how strongly Omid feels about racism, and how the royals have never shown penitence about their predecessors’ record on slavery – back to Queen Anne here – or joined in the Black Lives Matter movement. Yes, that would have gone down terrifically well.
Plus someone hid the title of a painting called The Negro Page with a judicious palm when the Obamas came to visit. And he devotes pages and pages to poor old Lady Hussey asking where a black lady was from at that party. It gets us nowhere.
Actually, there is one useful insight in this guff, about the Sussexes’ financial situation – he says he wasn’t briefed by Meghan – and it’s as bad as we might have thought. Spotify dropped them after signing them up; one executive called them “grifters”. They don’t want to go in for fundraising. Meghan may launch “something more accessible, something rooted in her love of details, curating, hosting, life’s simple pleasures and family”. But, not being Gwyneth Paltrow, I’m not sure that’ll keep them in their preferred style.
If they should go under, it must be a comfort to know that Omid will be there, to chart their downfall in deathless prose.
Melanie McDonagh is an Evening Standard columnist