Publisher investigates after ‘royal racists’ named in Dutch version of Endgame

Prince Harry and Meghan are interviewed by Oprah Winfrey
The Duchess of Sussex first spoke about the issue in her Oprah Winfrey interview in March 2021 - REUTERS

A Dutch publisher has confirmed that it is investigating after the identification of two royal “racists” in a new book was blamed on an error.

Endgame, by Omid Scobie, was urgently being pulled from shelves in the Netherlands after it emerged that two members of the Royal family were named in relation to a racism row involving the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The names do not appear to have been included in any other edition of the book. It is not known how the Dutch version came to include potentially defamatory information.

Xander Uitgevers, the Dutch publisher, appeared to row back on earlier claims that it was the result of an “error [that] occurred in the Dutch translation”.

In a new statement, it said: “The rectified edition of Eindstrijd by Omid Scobie will be in bookstores on Friday Dec 8. Xander Uitgevers temporarily removed the book from sale due to an error that occurred in the Dutch edition.”

A spokesman told The Telegraph he was unable to divulge further information, saying: “We’re investigating it.”

from shelves in the Netherlands
The Dutch version of Endgame was pulled from shelves in the Netherlands

Meanwhile, Scobie has made two statements, each slightly different. In an appearance on Dutch television on Tuesday night, he insisted he had never written a version of the book that included the names of the two people alleged to have speculated about the colour of Prince Archie’s skin.

He said: “The book is available in a number of languages and unfortunately I can’t speak Dutch so I haven’t seen the copy for myself, but if there have been any translation errors I am sure the publisher has got it under control.

“For me, I edited and wrote the English version. There has never been a version that I’ve produced that has names in it.”

Then, in a written statement released on Wednesday, he said: “Having only written and edited the English version of Endgame, I can only comment on that manuscript – which does not name the two individuals who took part in the conversation.

“I’m happy to hear that the error in the translation of the Dutch edition is being fixed.”

Such an “error” is difficult to fathom, as it involves the insertion of a specific detail rather than a mangled translation. Crucially, it is detail that only Scobie would have known.

The most likely scenario, experts believe, is that the names were included in an early version of the manuscript sent to the Dutch publisher in error. An updated version, or specific edits, may not have been picked up.

This would suggest that lawyers, either for the publisher or for the Royal household, had the relevant sections removed.

It remains unknown whether lawyers acting for the Royal family saw an advance copy of the book. Both Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace refused to comment on Wednesday, pointing such queries to the publisher.

One suggestion mooted online is that it was all part of a clever marketing tactic to get people talking about Endgame. But it would have been a PR strategy that came with heavy risk, not least that Harbottle & Lewis, the Royal household’s formidable lawyers, could have sued the Dutch publisher.

Paragraph does not appear in English version

Endgame describes how the Duchess of Sussex, 42, sent a letter to her father-in-law, then Prince Charles, in which she expressed concerns about unconscious bias in the Royal family.

The letter, first revealed by The Telegraph, was sent in the wake of the Sussexes’ March 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview, in which Meghan alleged that a member of the Royal family had speculated about the colour of her unborn son’s skin.

Scobie reveals that the Duchess complained to the King about two people who had upset her by making comments about Prince Archie’s skin tone. However, he stops short of naming them in the English language version of the book, citing “laws in the UK”.

The Dutch version, pulled from the shelves just hours after it was published, is different. Page 128 discusses the letters sent between Meghan and the King. “In those private letters an identity was revealed and confirmed,” it says, before naming one of the alleged culprits.

The person responsible meant “no ill-will or bias”, according to Scobie. The book quotes a royal insider who claims that person wanted to clarify that point, which was considered “very important”.

On page 334, he returns to the subject, identifying both people named in Meghan’s letter who “took part in such conversations about Archie.”

However, that paragraph does not appear in the English version, which skips from a reference to the Princess of Wales jokingly shuddering when Meghan’s name was mentioned to a source quote about how she had always got on with Prince Harry but would never again trust him.

Rick Evers, the Dutch royal reporter who first revealed the discrepancy, is said to have been asked by the publisher to remove his tweets revealing the names of the royals as it was “against copyright laws”.

Meanwhile, Scobie last night reserved the right to name the pair in the future.

He told ABC’s Nightline: “Unfortunately, those are two names that I have to keep to myself for now. But I do wonder if that might change over the future. It does seem that Harry and Meghan have decided to put that to rest.”