The Times of London got the rights to publish exclusive excerpts from Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand. We are almost at the moment the British media has been dreading. They’ve built this up so much, so just be aware that the smear campaign has already geared up and they’ve had months to build momentum. Obviously, there’s tons to cover even just from the excerpts (although the Times is paywalled). I’ll cover what I can from secondary sources over what will probably be dozens of posts over the course of weeks, if not months. Finding Freedom is going to land like a nuclear bomb in the British media and the royal establishment. It’s going to be like Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story. It will likely change the monarchy. Here are some highlights just from the early excerpts:
Everyone was afraid of the Sussexes’ popularity: Senior courtiers in other households – the so-called men in grey suits – did what they could to reign in the popularity of Harry and Meghan, even as they were ‘propelling the monarchy to new heights around the world’, the book claims. The couple tried for months to bring their grievances to other senior royals – to no avail – but there was only a handful of people working at the palace that they could trust. The authors say the Sussexes felt their complaints were not taken seriously and believed other royal households were leaking stories about them to the press. ‘There were just a handful of people working at the palace they could trust,’ the authors write. ‘A friend of the couple’s referred to the old guard as ‘the vipers’. Meanwhile, a frustrated palace staffer described the Sussexes’ team as ‘the squeaky third wheel’ of the palace.’
No one was looking out for them: “As their popularity had grown, so did Harry and Meghan’s difficulty in understanding why so few inside the palace were looking out for their interests. They were a major draw for the royal family [...] Instead they had to take a backseat. Sometimes they would be told that their projects had to wait when the Prince of Wales or Prince William had an initiative or tour being announced at the same time.” Harry “felt at once used for their popularity, hounded by the press because of the public’s fascination with this new breed of royal couple, and disparaged back within the institution’s walls.”
Unprotected: In the excerpt published in the Times it is also claimed that Harry felt “unprotected” by his family and not taken seriously by palace courtiers who felt he was too sensitive and outspoken. According to sources who spoke to the authors, Harry believed that some courtiers “simply didn’t like Meghan and would stop at nothing to make her life difficult.”
The royal aides always had it out for Meghan: The Times has reported that one aide made a joke about Meghan launching a line of beauty products once she left the royal family. The Telegraph has reported that staff appeared to turn their noses up at the idea of serving ‘an actress on a cable show’ when they had signed up ‘to serve Queen and country.’
When they came back to the UK in January: There was so much anger and mistrust that Harry and Meghan considered making a surprise visit to see the Queen when they returned in January to discuss their plans with the monarch directly because they felt they were being blocked by courtiers. They decided against it, however, fearing it would ruffle too many feathers.
On the Sussexit deal: ‘Harry and Meghan would have reached a more beneficial agreement to allow them to live the life they wanted if they had handled things in a private, dignified way,’ a senior Buckingham Palace aide explained to The Times. Another courtier said: ‘They oversimplified what they were asking for. They thought they’d give Charles their rider, negotiate over email, rock up to London, give three months’ notice and fly back to Canada.’
Duchess Kate wouldn’t even look at Meghan on Commonwealth Day: Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, said: ‘Although Meghan tried to make eye contact with Kate, the duchess barely acknowledged her… To purposefully snub your sister-in-law… I don’t think it left a great taste in the couple’s mouths.’
Meghan felt raw: Meghan, who gave up her career and her home to marry Harry in 2018 after a whirlwind 18-month courtship, is said to have told friends “I gave up my entire life for this family.”
A few notes on these excerpts – there will be much more on William and Harry’s conversations in the Sussexit negotiations, where it sounds like William largely hid behind aides and courtiers and gaslighted his brother publicly. There will also be more on the resentment between the Sussexes and the courtiers, who realized in the fall of 2018 that the Sussexes’ popularity wouldn’t just eclipse dull Kate and William, but eclipse the popularity “of the royal family itself.” As for why Harry and Meghan considered just dropping in on the Queen unannounced, it’s because Harry spent months (literally, months) trying to air his grievances to his father and grandmother only to be blocked at every turn by those pesky courtiers.
Mostly, I believe that Finding Freedom will be a big reveal… of a lot of things we’ve widely assumed for years now. The racist, misogynistic, anti-American royal aides, the dysfunction at the heart of the House of Windsor, the feeling that Harry and Meghan were being ganged up on within the palaces and the press.
(Note: this is not the only coverage we will do on Finding Freedom, and there are many stories which will be coming out tomorrow and throughout the week. Please do not threadjack.)
— David Jack (@DJack_Journo) July 24, 2020
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