The 'royal racists' row: a tawdry PR stunt?

 Omid Scobie speaks on This Morning Britain.
Omid Scobie speaks on This Morning Britain.

Ever since the Oprah Winfrey interview in 2021 in which the Duchess of Sussex reported that a senior member of the royal family had speculated over the colour of her unborn child's skin, there has been public fascination with the identity of the so-called "royal racist", said Alexander Larman in The Spectator.

The Duchess never named any names, bar assurances it was neither the late Queen nor Prince Philip. But last week, with the publication of Omid Scobie's book about the royal family, "Endgame", all was revealed. The English version was tactfully silent, but the Dutch translation asserted that not one but two royals expressed "concern" about Archie's likely skin colour: King Charles and the Princess of Wales.

Scobie said the revelation was a mistake: a "translation error". But the Dutch translator said she had merely translated what she was given – leading to suspicions that this "accident" was in fact a tawdry publicity stunt.

Inside scoop?

Some of us are bound to wonder what part Harry and Meghan played in this book, said Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. In it, Scobie takes various swipes at Catherine, calling her "Katie Keen" and painting her as a "Stepford Wife", and at the King.

Scobie has repeatedly denied acting as the Sussexes' "mouthpiece", and says the couple had no direct input into this book. But last year, Meghan had to apologise in court for "failing to remember" that she'd authorised a senior aide to supply information for his previous one. At any rate, "Endgame" will have made the prospect of a family reunion any time soon still more unlikely.

A 'ridiculous' row

The whole royal racism saga is pretty ridiculous, said Trevor Phillips in The Times. It's normal for families to speculate about who the baby is going to look like. I have no idea what the King said to Meghan, but having met him a few times, I very much doubt that he would express "antediluvian" views on the subject: he has, after all, "probably met more black folk than any public figures outside Africa".

I am not naive about the "depth of racial prejudice" that exists in some British families. But this particular issue is trivial, and worse: talking about it endlessly "sends a sour, unwelcoming message" about Britain out "across the globe".