The Duchess of Sussex was the victim of ‘racist and sexist tropes’ in Britain from commentators and royal courtiers who were resistant to change, the author of the controversial new biography Finding Freedom claimed today.
Omid Scobie’s book was finally released today after weeks of revelations from its pages telling Harry and Meghan’s side of the Megxit story.
It offers highly personal insights – although Scobie and co-author Carolyn Durand claim they did not interview Harry and Meghan, and the couple did not co-operate.
They do say, however, that ‘many’ friends gave them details for the book and that every revelation is confirmed by at least two sources.
Scobie and Durand have also blamed the monarchy for the bitterness of the Megxit row, saying it was the institution’s resistance to change and refusal to accept Harry and Meghan’s demands that led to the row over their departure from royal duties.
Scobie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme how he felt Harry and Meghan had ‘clearly tried to do their best to make it work’ before Megxit took place in March.
He added: ‘They even went as far as presenting a potential roadmap for how they would navigate their roles moving forward, and ultimately it was the institution that turned back on them and told them what they had presented just wasn’t an option.
‘And so this is a couple that really wanted to make it work, but ultimately I think the setup of the royal institution just isn’t built for change on that dramatic a level.’
Scobie also claimed that Meghan was the subject of a narrative calling her ‘Duchess Difficult’ amid reports of her disagreements with palace staff.
And he told ITV’s Lorraine that commentary about Meghan ‘used every kind of sexist and racist trope that we attach to successful women and women of colour’.
Asked by Lorraine host Andi Peters whether Meghan’s heritage had anything to do with ‘Megxit’, Scobie said today: ‘I think there are a number of themes at play here.
‘Certainly what we saw in a lot of the media commentary was the emergence of this sort of ‘Duchess Difficult’ narrative, that used every kind of sexist and racist trope that we attach to successful women and women of colour.
Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand was released this morning
‘She was too loud, too demanding, too difficult – and what was more ugly about that situation is that there were people within the institution that were briefing a lot of that information to the tabloids.
‘Now it’s always hard to know what the agenda is for something like that, but it clearly didn’t come from a good place.’
It is not the first time that the book’s authors have hinted at racist attitudes within the royal household.
Scobie has previously argued Meghan’s mixed race background had proved problematic for some within the royal household which he claimed ‘lives by hierarchy’.
This morning, Scobie also spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme today, during which he was asked about negative coverage in the media towards the Duchess.
He said: ‘I think what we did see was a lot of unsavoury coverage directed towards Meghan – and the type of coverage we’ve often seen attached to powerful and strong women of colour, this ‘Duchess Difficult’ narrative, that really stems for her supposedly being too difficult, too loud, too everything.
Asked by Lorraine host Andi Peters this morning whether Meghan’s heritage had anything to do with ‘Megxit’, Omid Scobie said today: ‘I think there are a number of themes at play here’
‘These are tropes that we’ve often see attached to successful women, and it’s really unfortunate because I think that behind the scenes was really far from the truth.’
He added that this was one of the reasons why he and co-author Durand wanted to write the book so they could ‘really present what the other side was’.
Today, Scobie also said the couple felt unable to defend themselves over reports in the media which they felt were untrue.
He told Lorraine: ‘Harry’s very aware of what goes on behind the scenes behind palace walls, and I think the couple really found themselves in a position where they were told they couldn’t defend themselves.
‘We heard ‘no comment’ time and time again from the palace, but their reputations were being destroyed by the words of other people using, sort of, third, fourth, fifth hand information that wasn’t always necessarily true.’
Scobie also told Lorraine that the process of writing the book began two years ago and the story of what he was writing changed dramatically over this time.
Omid Scobie told ITV’s Lorraine this morning that commentary about Meghan Markle ‘used every kind of sexist and racist trope that we attach to successful women and women of colour’
He added that he and Meghan are ‘absolutely in no way friends’ and said there was ‘always that line’ between journalists and members of the royal family.
He denied asking them for an interview, adding that ‘it was important to have a little distance from the couple’ to have a balanced and objective view of who they are.
Scobie said: ‘The really unique situation that came out of it was a lot of the people working for Harry and Meghan were frustrated at what was being printed.’
He said that the couple’s friends had become ‘desperate’ to defend them so they could ‘reframe the narrative a little bit’ and ‘shed a light on who they really were’.
Scobie added it was interesting to see ‘how the palace may deal with something and how Meghan felt at the time’.
Peters also asked Scobie if he knew the person who called Meghan ‘Harry’s showgirl’ – and he said he did, but could not say who it was for legal reasons.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wave on a visit to Cape Town in South Africa last September
Scobie said the couple are ‘very much forward focused at the moment’ and ‘they have been able to already start establishing their charitable brand moving forward’.
He also said that Meghan had ‘clearly found a much stronger and louder voice than she had before within the institution’.
On Radio 4, Scobie added: ‘I think the restrictions of the institution of the monarchy often didn’t allow them to venture down the paths that they long wanted to do.
‘And now we’re seeing them speak in a very different way when it comes to the work that they’re doing as you can see, and the move definitely did them good.’
His co-author Durand also spoke on Radio 4, and said she thought the couple’s decision to step down as senior royals was made ‘in the interests of their family’.
She added: ‘They did this because they wanted more privacy, they wanted to step back, they wanted to put Archie first, and it was the right decision for this time of their lives, and Her Majesty has already said that they’re welcome back at any time.
‘I don’t think it was doomed to failure and I don’t see this as a failure either. I think that Harry and Meghan have created a world where many people identify with them.
‘They are a great draw in the Commonwealth. Many people who didn’t feel a connection to the Royal Family before do. They’re great role models for the country.
‘Harry of course is a distinguished military hero. He’s had enormous charitable and humanitarian legacy, and I don’t see any of this as an individual failure on their part at all. I think that they’re just putting their family first at the moment.’