Moral void at heart of Omid Scobie's book: JAN MOIR reviews Endgame

There’s a moral void at the heart of Omid Scobie’s laughably partisan book – and the entire Sussex industrial grievance complex: JAN MOIR reviews Endgame

Before we return once more to the tights and the fights and who said what about Oprah, it is useful to note how much of Endgame is not about the beleaguered royals, but about dear Omid Scobie instead.

The author ushers himself into the narrative with the clammy urgency of a pushy mother urging her progeny into a lead role in the school play. On page after page, Omid and his omnipresent id are never far from the heart of the action, and always painted in a heroic light.

We learn of the abuse he receives on social media sites, his struggle to be taken seriously within the royal Press pack, his fury when he is excluded from same, his dull little thoughts on British society and Brexit, his dismay when senior courtiers don’t listen to his upstart advice, how he personally felt when the Queen died and why he wore a black jumper from Marks & Spencer on television broadcasts immediately following her death.

His belief that anyone is interested in any of this Scobie minutiae is touching, if a little misguided. Yet still he doggedly types on, revealing that it was because his polyester non-iron suit was in the boot of his car which was being serviced at a garage 20 miles away. Which garage, Omid? Only kidding – I don’t give a toot.

You could say all of this reveals the royal author to be the kind of habitual breakfast television sofa guest who has convinced himself that people are interested in him for who he is rather than what he does. Truly, the vanity of endless punditry is a heady drug for some.

Omid Scobie pictured appearing on ABC Nightline to promote his new book ahead of its release

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with their son Archie during a visit to South Africa in 2019

Scobie’s book, Endgame, was released in Britain on Tuesday

Within days of its publication, Endgame has already been described as a poisonous exercise in vengeance and, believe me, that is almost one of the positives. 

Two senior members of the Royal Family involved in an alleged racism scandal have been ‘accidentally’ named in Dutch copies of the book, resulting in it being pulled from bookshops across Holland – and, of course, a nice wave of publicity lapping around the world.

The author wails that translation errors are to blame, but should he be believed? Can he be believed?

Certainly, there is much in his barbarous chapters that makes one raise an eyebrow in disbelief – and even occasional horror – including his parti pris reshaping of events through a golden Sussex prism, alongside an endless enfilade of insults that relentlessly pins down Sussex enemies.

READ MORE HERE – All of Omid Scobie’s ‘vicious’ jibes at the royals in full: Bombshell book Endgame takes aim at ‘cold Stepford wife’ Kate, scheming William and ‘pampered Charles’

Ultimately this is a history book that will not go down in the history books, being little more than an exercise in grievance by proxy that feels slippery to the touch.

In a chapter called Gloves Off, for example, Scobie parlays the grisly Spotify debacle — a business deal which ended in failure and acrimony, with a Spotify executive describing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as a pair of ‘grifters’ – as merely a regrettable mistake which Harry and Meghan had been bounced into ‘after the royal institution cut them off from all funding and security in 2020’.

Then after signing a contract worth $20million to develop Spotify podcasts, ‘neither of the two expected the company’s executives to turn down so many of their ideas’. Who knew there wasn’t a global market for Meghan’s curated pensées on gender inequality in rescue chickens or Harry’s big idea to interview Putin over a wellness-focused cup of chai while single-handedly solving the world’s problems? Waaaaaagh! It’s all everyone else’s fault. Stop looking at us!

Scobie’s grand theme in Endgame is that the downfall of the monarchy is nigh and if it falls to him to light the touch-paper on their bonfire of ruin, then so be it.

Princes William and Harry at the National Service to mark the Centnary of the Armistice at Westminster Abbey in November 2018 

Omid Scobie’s belief that anyone is interested in any of the minutiae of his life is touching, if a little misguided, writes JAN MOIR. Pictured: Scobie posing with a copy of his book

In the past, he says, he has held back on revealing ‘some of the darker truths at the heart of the institution of the British monarchy’ but readers, that age of Omid-deference is over. ‘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,’ he writes, with the kind of flourish that demands ink, a quill and a mad cackle. Cue cymbal crash and lightning flash, pray bid thy servants to make haste with the popcorn.

READ MORE HERE –  SARAH VINE: Where DO Harry and Meghan stand in relation to this puppet of theirs? If the Duke and Duchess of Sussex don’t denounce the poison in Omid Scobie’s new book, we can only assume they endorse it 

I happily braced myself for a barrage of royal truth bombs, but staggering revelations came there none. Despite such juicy chapter headings such as Ghost At The Feast, Skilled Survivors and A Dangerous Game, there are no surprises here, nor any glimmer of gradual enlightenments about previously murky situations.

Instead, what lands on the Endgame pages are the spare bits of Spare alongside reiterations and amplifications of the Duke of Sussex’s pet peeves.

There is a dense, mad, sweaty chapter about Press briefings, Press conspiracy and royal Press rotas – of interest to practically nobody except Prince Harry – and more of the same old rehashed hurts and complaints concerning that old miff-magnet known as Meghan. Can’t we all please, please move on? Apparently not.

‘There was a coldness towards Meghan from the very early stages that I always found quite surprising,’ Scobie has said in interviews to promote Endgame, before squarely blaming the Princess of Wales for this institutional chill.

‘I always found it interesting that when Meghan was going through the sort of toughest days of her life and struggling with mental health issues… someone within the family who’s experienced that glare as a newcomer for the first time herself… wasn’t able to turn around and help a family member. To me, I think that speaks a lot to someone’s character.’

It speaks a lot about something, that’s for sure. And if Kate was hesitant to welcome Meghan into her confidences and inner circle, hasn’t that reticence been entirely justified? Not in the perfumed Omid-dome where Meghan and Harry can do no wrong, and everyone else is a stone-cold rotter.

Meghan, Harry, William and Kate on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in July 2018

William, Harry, Meghan and Charles speak together at Westminster Abbey in March 2019

The then Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Sussex talk to each other as they walk to Christmas Day church service in Sandringham in 2018

One of the very worst things about Endgame is the author’s egregious, panting concern about the mental health issues that famously dogged the Duke and Duchess of Sussex before merrily sticking the boot into others who might have issues of their own.

He more or less claims, for example, that Prince William is a raving basket case who needs to be on a shorter chain. ‘William’s emotional volatility could be one of his greatest challenges,’ is his silky insinuation, before claiming that his empty cipher of a wife was so coachable and malleable that she was ‘known on social media as Katie Keen’. Even the most cursory check proves this to be demonstrably untrue, as Odious Omid must know.

READ MORE HERE –  Omid Scobie doubles down after reigniting royal race row: Author admits he wanted to ‘get to bottom of dispute’ after Harry and Meghan walked back the incendiary claims made in Oprah interview – as second Royal ‘is named as racist’ in Endgame 

Elsewhere, keen to show off his insider connections, he details the day in 2019 when ‘senior’ members of the Sussex team inform him of Meghan’s emotional state. ‘It’s really bad, Omid,’ they tearfully tell him on page 162, shortly before the Duchess of Sussex herself rings up a few paragraphs later.

‘Hi, Omid!’ a female voice chirped. ‘It’s Meghan.’ I put my iced coffee down,’ he writes, ‘not quite sure if the call was a prank.’

Indeed. Perhaps Meghan usually communicates with him by carrier pigeon and osmosis, by the sheer power of thought, by gossamer notes pinned to moonbeams or by what is written in the stars.

Actually, throughout Endgame the author makes it clear that he is informed via a mesh of Sussex aides, sources and friends – but surely they must brief with the Sussexes’ blessing, otherwise they would be dropped from inner-circle roles?

Yet all parties pretend this is not the case and take us for fools. That is one reason why Endgame is so unsettling and weird.

Omid Scobie is always talking to his precious Sussex connections, while simultaneously fuming about newspapers calling him the Sussexes’ ‘mouthpiece’, ‘cheerleader’ and – worst of all – ‘pal’.

‘Another lie,’ he rages, ‘largely created to delegitimise the details I was sharing from sources close to the couple that often went against narratives that tabloids were reporting.’

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive to at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with their son Archie during a visit to Cape Town in South Africa in 2019

And here you have the moral void and the hypocrisy at the heart of this book – and indeed, the entire Sussex industrial grievance complex.

When royal aides acting for the King or the Prince of Wales brief the Press, it is always a part of a conspiracy designed to harm the Sussexes and hide the truth.

READ MORE HERE – Panicked Omid Scobie denies responsibility for error in Dutch copy of Endgame that ‘names the royal racist’ accused of speaking about Archie’s skin colour as sales of controversial book are halted in Holland and offending copies pulped

Yet when Scobie is briefed by his ‘senior sources’ in the Sussex camp it is always for a higher moral purpose.

He likes to put clear blue water between himself and the ratpack of royal reporters, but the dam he has built is so porous as to be irrelevant. The worst thing of all is that I agree with him on many points. Yes, we do know too much about King Charles and Queen Camilla’s torrid romantic history to ever take them quite as seriously as we should.

Yes, we were lied to about Camilla becoming Queen. No argument from me that Kate can be a little bit boring or that the monarchy must strive to revive if it is to survive.

Yet it is hard to take any of Scobie’s serious points seriously when the rest of this book is so laughably partisan; a gloves-off attack on those whom the Sussexes believed have wronged them, chiefly Charles and Camilla, followed by evil Kate and William and then assorted uncivil servants, including Simon Case.

Why him? ‘There was just something about him I didn’t trust – and most of it was in his eyes,’ writes Scobie. Such a pitch of petty virulence goes deeper than mere score-settling and occasionally even seems unhinged, but at least there were some happy moments. Scobie recounts the time in 2016 when he was ‘the only reporter’ to accompany William and Kate to India’s Kaziranga National Park. Soon they spotted the one-horned rhinos for which the region is famous.

‘The beautiful female rhinoceros slowly stomped around in front of us and then stopped to poop. I looked over at Kate, who was in a fit of muted giggles. For someone usually so poised and inscrutable, it felt like the mask momentarily fell away, and it was a refreshing sight.’

Scobie joined in with the laughter. ‘We all ended up pretty much holding our breath, trying not to let out immature chuckles after each massive plop,’ he writes. Plop, plop, plop. I know how he feels.

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