Rumblings about racism have plagued Britain's royal family for several years but a translated version of a new tell-all book purportedly reveals which senior royals allegedly made comments about the skin colour of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's first-born child.
The Dutch version of royal watcher Omid Scobie's newly released Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy's Fight for Survival has been pulled from bookstores in the Netherlands after it identified two royals involved in the controversy.
The original English version did not.
Dutch royal reporter Rick Evers was one of the first to report on the contents of the book when his article was published just after midnight Tuesday.
He told CBC News he had no idea Eindstrijd — the book's title in Dutch — contained any information different from any other versions — until he got a phone call from the publishing house, Xander Uitgevers, asking him to take his article offline "due to some legal problems." He didn't.
"It's written in black and white, two names," Evers said in an interview with CBC's Thomas Daigle. "It's not my story. It's published in the source."
The Dutch edition purports it was Harry's father King Charles and sister-in-law Catherine, Princess of Wales, who made the alleged comments before his and Meghan's son, Archie, was born in 2019.
Author Scobie denies they were ever identified in any version of his book and the royal family says it's considering all of its options.
The name game
Meghan, whose mother is Black and father is white, first brought up the allegation in a 2021 television interview with Oprah Winfrey, saying there were "concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie's] skin might be when he's born." Neither she nor Harry named names.
In Endgame, Scobie wrote that the names of two individuals involved were identified in private letters between Charles and Meghan following the Winfrey interview, but said he was prevented from naming them by U.K. laws.
The book's publisher, Xander Uitgevers, said on Tuesday it had temporarily removed the book from sale because of "an error" in the country's edition. Scobie later told Dutch broadcaster RTL Boulevard there has "never been a version that I produced that has names in it."
Evers says it's "difficult to believe" Scobie's claim he never wrote the identities in any version of his manuscript. "I think it's a way to distance himself."
He explained there are "several versions" of a book before it goes to print and that publishers in various countries need to be notified when significant changes are made — especially when it's for legal reasons.
It's possible the book's original editors forgot to tell the Dutch publishing house to take out the contentious identifications, he said, or maybe someone "missed the memo."
Despite the publisher saying it would pull the books from the shelves, Evers said he was still able to purchase a copy at a bookstore on Wednesday.
Evers said he doesn't think any fault lies on the publisher or translators of the Dutch version of Scobie's book.
A Dutch translator who worked on the shelved edition told Britain's Daily Mail she only translates what is presented to her.
"The names of the royals were there in black and white. I did not add them. I just did what I was paid to do and that was translate the book from English into Dutch," Saskia Peeters said.
Evers pondered whether the Netherlands might have been an ideal place to make such a contentious revelation because it's not that big of a country.
"He actually wanted to reveal what really happened but he was advised not to do it and something went really very wrong in the process," Evers said. "I just hope for Omid Scobie it was not on purpose."
Pushing legal limits
The United Kingdom has strict libel and privacy laws and many British media outlets have written about the controversy without identifying who is purportedly named in Eindstrijd.
But broadcaster Piers Morgan bucked that trend on his nightly show, Piers Morgan Uncensored.
"Frankly, if Dutch people wandering into a bookshop can pick it up and see these names, then you, British people here, who actually pay for the British royal family, you're entitled to know too," he declared Wednesday night.
Morgan is a vocal critic of Harry and Meghan and has accused them of "lying" about the racism allegations. He also suggested Scobie, who he called the couple's "lickspittle," may have been doing the couple's bidding by getting the names out in the open.
Morgan suggested by putting the names out in the open it will hopefully lead to clarity about what was said — and by whom — and "whether there was any racial intent at all."
Royals readying response
Neither Buckingham Palace nor any of the royal family's offices have commented on the book, but the Daily Mail said officials were considering all options, including legal action.
"However the key thing for them is His Majesty responding in the most eloquent way possible, by getting on with business and not letting it distract from vastly more important issues regarding the future on the planet and bilaterals with other world leaders," the paper quoted an unnamed source as saying.
A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan also declined to comment.
A new version of Eindstrijd is due to be released on Dec. 8, according to Xander Uitgevers.