For almost a quarter of a century, August 31 has been a date of quiet reflection for the family and friends of Princess Diana — but not this year.
Yesterday, on the 24th anniversary of the princess’s tragic death in a Paris car crash, came the sound of a noisy intrusion from far away California.
It was the arrival in the bookshops of an updated version of the Harry and Meghan biography Finding Freedom. With it came a jarring reminder of how no issue in their supremely cossetted, opulent lives, however petty, can be allowed to rest, nor any criticism go unchallenged.
And while the couple themselves surely had no part in choosing this significant royal anniversary for its publication, the book will do nothing to erase the notion that they possess an outsize sense of victimhood.
The new chapter of the Harry and Meghan biography Finding Freedom arrived on 24th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. Pictured: Prince Harry and Meghan in March 2020
Only one new chapter to the book — styled here as an ‘epilogue’ — has been added, but its 25 pages are loaded with self-serving reflections on the controversies that have surrounded the couple in the year since the first version of the book hit the shelves.
Unauthorised it may be, but the biography does provide one valuable service: come what may the Duke and Duchess of Sussex must always have the last word.
Nowhere is this more clear-cut than in passages relating to the reaction from the Palace to the couple’s explosive TV interview with Oprah Winfrey in which they alleged a racist comment was made about the colour of their son Archie’s skin.
At the time, in a thoughtful and positive response which also expressed concern for the couple, the Queen added the masterful qualification that ‘some recollections may vary’.
Even though almost six months have elapsed since the fall-out from the interview — and both sides are said to be attempting to build bridges — this is not allowed to go unopposed.
Authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand write: ‘Those three words, “recollections may vary”, did not go unnoticed by the couple, who a close source said were “not surprised” that full ownership was not taken.’
Only one new chapter to the book – styled here as an ‘epilogue’ – has been added, but its 25 pages are loaded with self-serving reflections on the controversies that have surrounded the couple in the year since the first version of the book hit the shelves
In another thinly veiled aside at the Queen, the writers claim that the ‘unaddressed’ allegations ‘have continued to threaten the Royal Family’s image around the world’ and ‘could no doubt bring down the monarchy’.
As if to emphasise the point, Scobie and Durand claimed the couple considered naming the ‘royal racist’ but ultimately chose not to.
Intriguingly, broadcaster and columnist Jeremy Clarkson has offered an alternative view.
‘If my sources are correct,’ he wrote this weekend, ‘the real reason they didn’t name the person might have something to do with the fact that they are not actually a member of the Royal Family.’
Of the fact that Harry and Meghan, with their own self-indulgent whinging and attacks on the monarchy, might themselves be endangering the long-term well-being of the institution, there is not so much as a peep.
Through their lawyers, the couple have distanced themselves from Finding Freedom, insisting the writers ‘do not speak for our clients’. But every page of the epilogue drips with warmth for the Duke and Duchess, while rounding on their critics in and outside the Palace.
It included passages that gave Harry and Meghan’s reaction to the Palace’s response to the couple’s explosive TV interview with Oprah Winfrey (pictured) in which they alleged a racist comment was made about the colour of their son Archie’s skin
Take the storm that flared up in the wake of claims that Meghan had faced an allegation that she had bullied staff, forcing out two palace assistants and undermining the confidence of a third.
Rather than deal with the allegations of the highly detailed complaint, the book dismisses it as a smear and quotes a figure in the couple’s circle saying that it ‘served as a reminder’ to the Sussexes that they had made the right decision to leave Britain.
Then there is the toxic matter of the family rift. The book describes how Harry and Prince Charles were only on ‘light speaking terms’ in the run-up to Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle in April.
Hardly surprising when you consider how, only a month earlier, he had suggested to Oprah that his father had cut him off financially.
Leafing through this new chapter and the preceding 300-plus syrupy pages, what emerges is how Harry has utterly changed from being the fun-loving Prince who dazzled the world with his charm — an ambassador who, with Meghan at his side, could have done so much for post-Brexit global Britain.
It is easy to imagine him and the Duchess now sitting in their Montecito mansion congratulating themselves on their status-defining interventions, from celebrating diversity to ending global poverty and saving the planet.
Publication of this new book may turn out to be timely, because it comes as those mission-statement pronouncements no longer receive the universal acclaim they once did. Many in Britain have tired of this feather-bedded couple’s griping, especially when it appears to include criticism of a much-loved 95-year-old monarch.
But elsewhere there is a growing sense of their dislocation from the real world.
Nothing illustrated that more than the statement about Afghanistan in which they said they had been left ‘speechless’ over developments, and proceeded to post a long-winded peroration about proving ‘our humanity’ while noting that ‘the world is exceptionally fragile right now’.
Worthy it may be, but even the most fanatically devoted of Harry’s fans must be longing for a glimpse of the old Harry, the one who exchanged good-natured banter with the Olympic runner Usain Bolt.
Then there is the toxic matter of the family rift. The book describes how Harry and Prince Charles were only on ‘light speaking terms’ in the run-up to Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle in April. Pictured: Prince Charles and Prince Harry in April 2019
Perhaps, more than ever, the world would long to see the Harry who had such a natural, uncomplicated and empathetic relationship with servicemen and women helping those Afghan veterans who have been traumatised by the events of the past two weeks.
How much more impressive that would be than some empty statement about feeling speechless.
And then there was that decision to take a private jet 750 miles in order to take part in a game of polo, albeit for charity.
Only three months ago Harry was telling a TV interviewer about climate change and his fears for the planet.
‘Kids growing up in today’s world, pretty depressing, right, depending on where you live; your home country is either on fire, it’s either underwater, houses or forests are being flattened,’ he said.
But noble words require noble action. And even in America, where many of his actions have been applauded, he was accused of being an eco-hypocrite.
Once upon a time Harry was one of the royals who understood that, when it came to royalty, perception was crucial. Now it seems to matter less.
It was hardly the first time claims of hypocrisy had been levelled at the couple. Remember those ‘blood money’ earrings Meghan wore on a royal tour to Fiji in 2018.
It was disclosed that they had been a gift from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had been accused of ordering the brutal killing of reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
Finding Freedom draws attention to the fact that the Queen, Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Diana had all received jewels from the Saudi royal family.
It neglects to say that at the time no Saudi royal had been accused by the CIA of being behind the death and dismemberment of a prominent journalist.
Wisely, the Palace have decided not to respond publicly to the book’s claims. They may find that position much harder to maintain next year when Harry’s own memoirs — penned with a ghostwriter — are set to appear.
But by then the public appetite for this couple’s increasingly vacuous do-gooding deeds may have diminished even further.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are ‘making very little progress’ in reconciling with the royal family, Finding Freedom author claims
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are ‘making very little progress’ in reconciling with the royal family, the author of Finding Freedom has claimed.
Omid Scobie – who penned the biography with Carolyn Durand and is releasing an updated version today, the 24th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death – said Prince Harry, 37, and Meghan Markle, 40, were ‘desperate to get their story out there’ when they gave their explosive Oprah Winfrey interview earlier this year.
Appearing on Good Morning America today, Omid claimed the couple, who are currently living in their $14 million mansion in California, and the royal family both want all involved to take ‘accountability and ownership’ for their role in the rift.
He explained: ‘When we speak to sources close to the couple and also sources close to the royal family, there is this feeling that very little progress is being made.’
Meanwhile Scobie also suggested allegations of Meghan’s bullying behaviour made by a senior Palace aide before the Oprah Winfrey interview were ‘revenge’ from The Firm for the Duke and Duchess’ actions.
The Sussexes were accused of leaving behind a ‘lot of broken people’ with ‘young women broken by their behaviour’ and a source describing one member of their staff as ‘completely destroyed’ by the ordeal.
Scobie said: ‘For me, it’s impossible to come to any other conclusion that this is some sort of revenge from the institution that we saw pulled into action just before the Oprah interview came out.’
He added: ‘One of the sources that we spoke to in the book said it was the classic “Oppo dump” which you see before a presidential election.
The Duke, 37, and Duchess of Sussex, 40, are ‘making very little progress’ in reconciling with the royal family, the author of Finding Freedom has claimed
Omid said there had been ‘little progress’ in mending the rift between the Sussexes and the royal family, but added: ‘However, some feelings have subsided because time has done its things, so the door is very much open for those conversations to happen at some point.’
Meanwhile he said the couple had no intention of leaving the public eye in search of privacy, revealing: ‘It’s not that they want to disappear or not be seen. It’s simply that they want to choose what they keep private and what they share with the world.’
The Finding Freedom author said since stepping back from royal duty, the couple are now ‘thriving’, adding: ‘Fast forward to a life in the US where they are very much in control.
‘The Archewell legacy they’re building – this is the couple showing the world exactly what is important to them.’
Appearing on Good Morning America today, Omid Scobie claimed the couple, who are currently living in their $14 million mansion in California, ‘want everyone to take accountability’ for their role in the rift (pictured, the Queen, Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William and Kate Middleton at the Commonwealth Service in March 2020)
Meanwhile he also suggested the couple could go on to reveal more details about their relationship with members of the royal family like Prince Charles and William.
He said: ‘Now I think that when and if we hear more of their journey towards healing these family relations and the issues that they’ve faced, it’s going to be from them themselves.’
The Queen launched an unprecedented inquiry into allegations that Meghan and Harry bullied their staff earlier this year – leaving royal employees ‘shaken’ by ‘unhappy memories’ being brought up about a ‘toxic period’ before the couple emigrated.
Devastating claims that the Duchess of Sussex inflicted ’emotional cruelty’ on underlings and ‘drove them out’ were ‘very’ concerning, Buckingham Palace said.
The whistleblower told The Times: ‘We will finally be able to tell the truth. It’s not going to be easy, but this is very welcome and long overdue. We don’t have to be silent any more’. Lawyers for the Sussexes have vehemently denied they have bullied or mistreated staff.
Weeks ago, a source claimed the Duchess of Cornwall is unlikely to ever forgive her stepson Prince Harry and Meghan for hurting Prince Charles after Megxit.
Prince Harry has addressed his relationship with his father in several interviews throughout the year – after first opening up about it in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March where he claimed he has been ‘let down’ by Prince Charles.
Scobie penned the biography Finding Freedom with Carolyn Durand and is releasing an updated version today, the 24th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death (pictured, on GMA today)
During the TV interview, Scobie suggested the couple could go on to reveal more details about their relationship with members of the royal family like Prince Charles and William
Speaking to The Telegraph, royal expert Camilla Tominey reported that a source close to Camilla has said that even though Buckingham Palace is conveying the message that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are still loved by the family, the Duchess of Cornwall will struggle to move on.
Another source claimed that Prince Charles was deeply affected by the reported fall out with Prince Harry and that it had been ‘really hard for him.’
Meanwhile Prince William and Harry are said to have barely spoken and have an ‘incredibly strained’ relationship after two years of rows over Harry’s wife and her alleged treatment of staff, the couple’s decision to emigrate to America and the tonnes of ‘truth bombs’ the Sussexes have dropped in TV interviews watched by tens of millions of people around the world.
Harry and Meghan believe they were abandoned by the Royals, even accusing them of racism towards Archie and ignoring their cries for help when the Duchess of Sussex felt lonely and suicidal while pregnant in London.
An updated edition of Harry and Meghan biography Finding Freedom also made a string of other fresh claims that are likely to trigger debate about the state of their relationship with the Royal Family.
Meanwhile Prince William and Harry are said to have barely spoken and have an ‘incredibly strained’ relationship after two years of rows (pictured together in July)
A leaked version of the epilogue claimed the couple had considered naming the royal they alleged had made a racist comment about their son, Archie; that some royals were ‘quietly pleased’ the Duchess of Sussex missed Prince Philip’s funeral and that Prince William was ‘furious’ about their interview with Oprah.
The new edition also said the Sussexes had ‘no regrets’ about quitting their royal roles and that Meghan found her explosive Oprah interview ‘cathartic’ and ‘liberating’.
Meghan plunged the monarchy into crisis after telling Oprah Winfrey that an unnamed royal had expressed ‘concern’ about Archie’s skin before he was born.
The epilogue reveals that a source told authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand that the Sussexes had considered naming the family member – but had ultimately decided not to.
It also claimed that ‘sources close to the Sussexes’ had said that the Royal Family’s reaction to the allegations made by the couple ‘was not positive’.
The source told the authors that there had to be ‘some acknowledgment’ about what the Sussexes went through for there to be ‘progress’.
The criticism came after a carefully-worded statement from the Queen following the controversial Oprah interview, which expressed concern for the couple but insisted that ‘some recollections may vary’.