Omid Scobie is still hustling for Finding Freedom, although I’ve been surprised by A) how little promotion Carolyn Durand has done and B) how Omid has been impressively spacing out his interviews. He’s also dropping enough “fresh tea” in his interviews so that he’s always making news. I don’t know if he’s just naturally smart about these kinds of promotional teases or if he’s working with a really good team. Omid chatted with Town & Country about the book and about his history on the royal beat. Some highlights:
On the right side of history: “Mouthpiece, cheerleader, unofficial spokesperson, not a journalist, I’ve heard them all. I think the problem is I’m on a side of history that many others don’t want to be a part of, and it’s rubbed people the wrong way, much as the Sussexes have.”
Why the book happened the way it did: “I think this book wouldn’t have happened had many of [our sources] not felt frustrated by the coverage they saw of their friends in sections of the tabloids here. I think there were many people that felt what we were seeing about the couple was far away from who they were, so to have a place where they could actually share another side of the story was very important to them. Had things been very different with the press over here, we probably wouldn’t have been able to put this book together.”
When the story broke about Harry dating Meghan: “When the Sunday Express first editions had dropped [breaking the news of the relationship], a friend of mine texted me the front cover. I was like, ‘Christ. Potentially huge.’ I know a lot of people didn’t believe it at first, but it just… I don’t know. I don’t know why, my sixth sense was like, ‘This is legit.’ It turns out I had a source in Toronto who literally that evening was like, ‘Yeah, it’s true and they’re actually in Toronto at the moment.’ Really, ever since that call I have never stopped covering their story.”
The book was supposed to come out last year: The book they proposed was supposed to come out after Archie’s birth in May 2019. But as they began to wrap up their reporting, their sources started relaying trouble behind the scenes and murmurings that the Sussexes were unhappy with their current role in the royal family. This was, suddenly, a very different book. “Around Archie’s birth…we realized that there was a bigger story happening here. That this was a couple who were incredibly frustrated with some of the situations with their roles and their place within the institution of the monarchy, and not being heard when it came to lots of different things.”
Duncan Larcombe on how the book isn’t all compliments to H&M: “It’s a compliment to the book, but from Harry’s point of view there are far too many slightly awkward bits of dirty laundry being aired in the book.”
Omid on whether H&M have read the book: He says the Sussexes and the palace didn’t receive advance copies of the book, and he hasn’t heard anything yet about their reactions. The smile he has worn through much of our interview turns into a slight grimace. “Part of me is curious. Part of me doesn’t want to know. Listen, I don’t think anybody likes being spoken about. That’s not something you ever get used to… We didn’t write the book for Harry and Meghan.”
[From Town & Country]
By the end of FF, it’s actually pretty clear that he and Durand weren’t writing a completely sugary Sussex-only narrative. There are some big omissions in many key moments, and there are some legitimate criticisms of the Sussexes which, frankly, go unanswered by the pro-Sussex insiders. I have a theory that because so many people inside the palace and in the British media were freaking out nonstop over every little thing about the Sussexes, H&M just learned to tune out everything, even when the criticism or advice was given in good faith.
As for the rumors he heard around Archie’s birth… her whole pregnancy was a nightmare as far as the coverage around the Sussexes. The courtiers and the tabloids were going crazy nonstop, and no one, not Kate, not William, not Charles or the Queen, ever stepped in and said words of support to H&M, or stepped up publicly to stop the harassment and abuse of a pregnant woman. Also, it’s weird that no one ever talks about how the Times’ sources flat-out said William wanted to exile H&M. That was during Meghan’s pregnancy too.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red.
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