Three years ago, Omid Scobie became one of the first journalists to get to the bottom of the mystery of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal exit when he and coauthor Carolyn Durand published the bestselling biography, Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family. Soon, the book’s sympathetic approach to the Sussexes and its runaway success turned Scobie into part of the story. When his reporting came up as a part of Meghan’s case against the Mail on Sunday’s parent company, Associated Newspapers, the British tabloids opened fire.
This week, Scobie is back for another round with his new book, Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy’s Fight for Survival. It’s equally well-sourced and full of just as many details as its predecessor, but this time around Scobie is stepping out of the role of omniscient narrator and breaking down what the palace is really like behind-the-scenes—something he told Vanity Fair he had to do “completely without favor or fear.” He shares specific details about his more contentious conversations with royal aides and makes allegations about the palace press team’s machinations with the media. “Yes, I realize it closes the door in many places and burns bridges,” Scobie added. “I also think that it’s the right time to tell this story.”
Though Endgame revisits past controversies and details a few of the bumps in the road for Meghan and Harry after their exit from the royal family, it mainly centers on the challenges faced by Prince William, Princess Kate, King Charles III, and Queen Camilla as they lead the monarchy forward into the future. He makes the case that the discord between the various factions in the royal family and their staff isn’t trivial. Instead, it’s a reflection of how well the family is adapting to its role in a nation in flux. Though the book’s title might seem pessimistic, Scobie doesn’t think the monarchy is in its final throes.
Last week, he spoke with VF to explain his belief that the royals need to learn to make a better case for themselves in the 21st century, and that challenge starts behind the scenes. “Having a household that’s reflective of modern day society is incredibly important to them, yet we still look at the people around the senior members of the royal family and mostly see people from exactly the same background, be it socioeconomically or ethnically,” he said. “Ultimately it’s a case of reaffirming the need and importance of the royal family in modern Britain 2023, which I think many times they struggle to do.”
Vanity Fair: By the time the book is released, a few of the stories may have already been revealed in excerpts and headlines. Beyond that, what do you hope that people will really understand before they dive in?
Omid Scobie: I hope that people understand that despite press coverage, this is not a book about Harry and Meghan. This is not Finding Freedom part two. It’s a really important look at the current state of the British royal family written in a way I don’t think anyone has ever done before at a time when I think is more important than ever. And I hope that rather than trying to ignore or reject this kind of dialogue that it’s embraced because I think that ultimately it always leads to better things.
It’s confrontational, but you’re not trying to tear things down. When you announced the title, I remember reading comments from a few people who perhaps misunderstood the definition of the word “endgame” and were taking it to be a declaration of the end of the royal family, which is quite clearly not what you think! What influenced the title choice? What is the current match that is in the end stages?
We’ve reached this pinnacle moment with the royal family where the firm as we know it, is essentially at risk. I say “as we know it” because I’m certainly not one to go out declaring the end of the monarchy—I think that that’s very unlikely. Regardless of any Republican movement or apathy amongst younger people, those days are far away. But we’ve only recently reached the end of a 70-year reign, which we celebrated and felt upheld the values and the morals of what the Crown promotes and champions. I thought it was a really important time to look at whether that’s still the case because the recent events, actions, decisions, and goings on within the House of Windsor in the last five or six years give us a completely different story.
As it is a publicly funded institution, I think it’s important that we’re able to actually stand back and take a look at the big picture. It’s for those of us who feel more comfortable questioning the purpose and the relevance of the monarchy, but also for those within it who have the ability to either take it forward in a really positive direction where growth and modernization and all of those things are possible. Or whether they’ll be completely ignored and we see perhaps what’s happened across other parts of Europe, where monarchies have shrunk in importance and relevance.