'Their side of the story'? New book goes behind the scenes of Harry and Meghan's royal rift
TORONTO -- A new book purporting to take readers behind the scenes of Prince Harry and Meghan’s courtship and their subsequent escape from the pressure of being royals is now available.
Penned by two royal reporters, Harper's Bazaar royal editor Omid Scobie and Elle magazine royal correspondent Carolyn Durand, the book “Finding Freedom” goes into the waves the couple made in the British Royal Family, from their first few dates to the present day, and reveals new details behind the couple’s friction with Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Scobie told CTV News Channel on Tuesday that the title refers to the constrictions of royal life and lack of privacy that Harry and Meghan found uncomfortable.
“In many ways, Harry and Meghan have found that freedom they were looking for [now],” he said. Part of that, he said, is “the freedom to speak about whatever you want in any way that you want.
“It’s very interesting that we see a couple now, as non-working royals, free to speak about systemic racism and social issues that they weren’t able to touch on as openly when they were working members of the Royal Family.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are the most prominent royals to publicly support the Black Lives Matter movement. Speaking about these issues would have been “considered too political” for working royals, Scobie said.
A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan has said they did not give interviews or contribute to the book themselves in any way.
But according to Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, the book “contains all sorts of intimate details … [that] must have come, and this is admitted, from their inner circle, their close friends.
“It will be perceived as this is their side of the story,” he told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.
Previous excerpts of the book have shown the rift between Harry and his brother William was growing long before Harry decided to move away from formal royal duties.
An excerpt published in late July in The Sunday Times claimed that William didn’t want his brother to be “blindsided by lust” in his relationship with Meghan, and that Harry had taken offence to what he perceived as a “snobbishness” displayed by William.
Harry and Meghan were married in 2018 in a wedding televised to millions. But the couple’s time in the royal family has been far from fairy tale. In 2016, Harry condemned British tabloids for their hounding of his then-girlfriend, saying she had been subjected to “a wave of abuse and harassment” as well as “outright sexism and racism.”
Meghan is biracial, and the difference between news coverage of Kate versus coverage of Meghan has often been tinged with racism. Meghan is also attempting to sue the publisher of a British newspaper for invasion of privacy after they published excerpts of a letter she wrote to her father.
“The mission with this book was to paint a different side to the story,” Scobie said.
He claimed that as well as sources close to Harry and Kate, they had also spoken to sources close to the Cambridges, the Prince of Wales, and “even the Queen herself.”
Scobie said that one of the difficulties of being in the Royal Family was a sense of competition between the respective sections of the family as a whole.
"The keys are the three different households: Kensington Palace, Clarence House and Buckingham Palace,” he explained. “And that creates a very competitive atmosphere, and one that Harry and Meghan often fell victim to. A lot of the time, the information about Harry and Meghan to make them look bad in some of the pages of some of the newspapers actually came from those within the royal households themselves.”
Harry and Meghan made the dramatic move to step away from their roles as senior royals in January, announcing that they would be seeking financial independence and moving to North America.
Harry is sixth in the line for the throne, behind his father, Prince Charles, his brother William, and William's three young children, George, Charlotte and Louis.
He and Meghan now live in California with their 14-month old son, Archie.
Scobie said the pandemic has made things more complicated for everyone, including Harry and Meghan, saying they had expected to “hit the ground running in California.” Now they have their lives on hold, the same as everyone else.
But he says that as far as he’s aware, there are no regrets from the couple so far on their decision to leave royal duties behind.
“From what I’m hearing, Harry and Meghan will not be looking back,” he said.