You could fill an entire library with books that have been written about the royal family over the years. And in 2020 a new biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be added to the shelves. Unsurprisingly, it’s likely to contain more details about their controversial move abroad.
This particular book has been anticipated for the fact that it has the cooperation of the royals themselves. Yes, Finding Freedom: Harry, Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family is based on several interviews with the high-profile pair. However, Omid Scobie, a royal correspondent, has been keen to keep its contents under wraps for as long as possible.
On his official Twitter account Scobie declared, “Any ‘insider’ claiming to know what’s in the book is simply throwing guesses out there.” He added, “LOL at having to retweet this every week.” Furthermore, the royal correspondent denied rumors that the book in question was being redrafted.
And the author, who’s only in his early 30s, issued the denial following reports that the royal family were concerned about the book’s content. An anonymous insider reportedly told British newspaper The Sun, “They are worried William especially will be portrayed in a bad light. This sort of family spat shouldn’t be out there in public. This shouldn’t happen to future monarchs.”
In fact, the same source apparently claimed that Finding Freedom “could be the most damaging thing to the royal family since Princess Diana’s interview on Panorama with Martin Bashir.” They added, “The concern is it will somehow paint him [William] as an unfeeling baddie against kind and philanthropic Harry and Meghan. The aides are privately worried about it.”
So why did Harry and Meghan trust Scobie with helping to tell their story? The couple have famously been wary of the press, citing them as one of the main reasons for their departure as senior royals. Well, Scobie had previously enjoyed an eight-year working relationship with Britain’s most famous family as the Royal Editor at Large of website BAZAAR.com.
Scobie had covered Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018. He’d often toured with the pair, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridgeshire, on various domestic and international engagements. The editor also worked on the book alongside Carolyn Durand, an ex-ABC producer who’s served as royal contributor for the websites of magazines O and Elle.
Harry and Meghan reportedly spoke to Durand and Scobie shortly before leaving for North America in late 2019. According to newspaper the Daily Mail, the Duchess also encouraged her close friends to speak to the pair. This drew comparisons with Harry’s late mother Princess Diana, who instructed her inner circle to do the same for the Andrew Morton book, Diana: Her True Story.
But what exactly will Finding Freedom reveal? Well, its promotional copy claims to offer an “honest, up-close, and disarming portrait of a confident, influential and forward-thinking couple who are unafraid to break with tradition, determined to create a new path away from the spotlight and dedicated to building a humanitarian legacy that will make a profound difference in the world.” It also promises to dispel the “many rumors and misconceptions that plague the couple on both sides of the pond.”
On his The HeirPod podcast, Scobie reiterated how candid, in-depth and revealing his book was. He said, “I’ve been on so many engagements and around them as much as possible, and spoken to so many people in their lives, so no stone has been left unturned… I would like to think this tells the definitive version of their lives together.”
The book was given a hard copy release date of August 20. However, according to reports the Duchess would prefer to have brought its publication forward. An insider allegedly told the Daily Mail’s website, “If Meghan had it her way, the book would be released tomorrow instead of three months from now. She said the book will finally set the record straight and show the world why they were left with no other choice than to leave royal life.”
The insider went on to add, “Meghan said people need to see her vulnerable side, something the book does in great detail… I think [she] wants people to feel sorry for her. Or at least have compassion for her and all she’s been through, which has been anything but a fairytale.”
However, Finding Freedom wasn’t the only book that focused on the royal pair to hit the shelves in 2020. Sean Smith, who’d previously penned a biography of Kate Middleton, promised to “set the record straight” in Meghan: Misunderstood. Smith told the Daily Mail that he’d been inspired to write the book after watching an ITV documentary titled Harry and Meghan: An African Journey.
The promotional material for Meghan: Misunderstood has claimed that the book will be a “pull-no-punches” type of read. It also described the Duchess as a “self-made, intelligent American woman with a strong social conscience.” But unlike Finding Freedom, Smith’s biography has had no direct input from the royal couple themselves.
Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – the Friendship and the Feuds was also given a publication date of October 2020. Penned by Robert Lacey, who’d worked on Netflix smash hit The Crown as historical consultant, this book focused on the titular siblings’ turbulent relationship. Lacey told the Daily Mail that he was “sometimes moved to tears” by what he discovered while doing his research.
According to the Daily Mail article, Lacey believes that Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s messy divorce was responsible for sowing the seeds of damage between the brothers. The book also reportedly reflects on how their respective wives, Kate and Meghan, changed the dynamic when they came into the picture. Lacey’s work apparently alleges that William’s “take things slow” advice to his younger sibling during the early days of his courtship with Meghan was a catalyst for their fractured relationship.
But first to hit the shelves was Andy Tillett and Dylan Howard’s Royals at War. This particular book made several claims about Harry and Meghan’s spending habits, including the near-$5,000 numerology readings course they both attended. According to the authors, Meghan’s wardrobe in 2018 alone cost in excess of a staggering $790,000 compared to just over $130,000 spent by sister-in-law Kate.
Howard and Tillett also claim that the pair’s spending sprees caused friction within the royal family. They wrote, “The fact that Meghan splashed so much cash rang alarm bells with the traditionally conservative Queen Elizabeth. Growing up in the war left the monarch with a built-in sense of frugality and economy, despite being one of the richest women in the world.”
And if that’s not enough then there’s also a Lifetime TV movie about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the works. The network had already aired two films about the couple. Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance centered on the pair’s early courtship, while Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal focused on their marriage.
As its title suggests, however, Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace is set to cover the pair’s more turbulent period. A synopsis published on website TVLine reads that the film will address “the couple’s controversial conscious uncoupling from the Crown, after the birth of their son Archie.” The movie is expected to go into production as soon as possible.
Unsurprisingly, Meghan and Harry had no involvement at all with their third Lifetime treatment. However, they both lent their talents to separate screen projects in 2020. Firstly, the Duchess provided a voiceover for Elephant, a documentary aired on the Disney+ channel. And then her husband introduced a royal-themed episode of kids’ favorite Thomas and Friends.
But Finding Freedom: Harry, Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family is undoubtedly the royal project that fans of the monarchy are most anticipating in 2020. And there is one aspect of the couple’s life story, in particular, that readers are looking forward to discovering more about. What else but Megxit?
Megxit, of course, was the term that was coined after the Duke and Duchess decided to vacate their positions as senior royals in early 2020. The pair shocked the world when they announced that they would also be spending half their time on the other side of the Atlantic alongside baby son Archie. And Meghan was often blamed by the press for instigating this dramatic turn of events.
In a piece for newspaper the Daily Express, Virginia Blackburn wrote, “Is it Meghan’s fault? It’s hard to escape the conclusion that having grown up in a country that considers the Kennedys to be aristocracy, Meghan didn’t understand that being a Windsor is not like being a celebrity.” Blackburn also compared Meghan to Wallis Simpson, a divorcee from America who was blamed for King Edward VIII’s abdication more than eight decades ago.
Piers Morgan was particularly scathing of the Duchess, too. In a tweet, the Good Morning Britain TV host commented, “People say I’m too critical of Meghan Markle. But she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William (and) has now split him from the royal family. I rest my case.”
Even Meghan’s own half-sister pointed the blame squarely at the Duchess. In an interview with British TV chat show This Morning, Samantha Markle claimed, “I feel as though it was her decision because she wasn’t happy with the criticism that had taken place publicly.” Meghan and Samantha haven’t spoken since way back in 2014.
However, in Finding Freedom it’s apparently revealed that the main driving force was, in fact, Meghan’s other half. An anonymous insider reportedly told The Sun, “That word ‘Megxit’ in particular has always angered Prince Harry. It gives the impression that the decision to walk away from the royal family was Meghan’s.”
The source continued, “The reality is Harry drove that decision. The book will make that clear and explain why it had to happen. The truth is Harry had been unhappy for a long, long time. He wanted to move in the direction that they did and had been considering it for more than a year.”
The book will reportedly also reveal that the Duchess was keen to ensure that her husband had thought things through. The insider continued, “Meghan supported Harry’s decision. But there was more than one occasion where she asked him if he was certain it was what he wanted. And she always made it clear she would support him in whatever he did.”
Meghan will perhaps be hoping that her critics will accept this version of events when it’s in writing. After all, her other half has already explained that he was largely responsible for the decision to distance themselves from the royal family. Indeed, during a speech he delivered at a London charity event soon after the news broke, Harry made it crystal clear who was behind the move.
Harry told attendees, “The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option. What I want to make clear is, we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.”
But even after hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth, some commentators refused to believe that Harry was the sole driving force. Katie Nicholl, a royal expert, told TV show Entertainment Tonight, “He said it was his decision to walk away and that really he had no choice. This was a joint decision and I think Prince Harry’s been very magnanimous by taking it all on himself. I think he’s simply doing that to protect Meghan.”
Having continued to face such a backlash, it was perhaps unsurprising that Harry and Meghan decided they didn’t want to associate with certain sections of the press going forward. In April 2020 the couple announced they would no longer be speaking to British publications the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Daily Mirror. And they made their reasoning clear in no uncertain terms.
An official statement read, “It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print. Even when they know it to be distorted, false or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much-needed industry is degraded.”
Thankfully, Meghan and Harry appear to have been able to put all the tabloid drama behind them and move on with their lives. In May 2020 the couple celebrated their second wedding anniversary at their new Los Angeles base. And in keeping with their recent split from the royal family, the Duke and Duchess decided to keep things very restrained.
Indeed, the pair spent much of the day video calling those who had helped to make their lavish wedding such a joyful occasion. As is traditional for a second anniversary, the pair presented each other with gifts made from cotton. And they washed down various Mexican dishes with margaritas, too.
That same month Harry and Meghan also celebrated their first-born, Archie, turning one. The couple uploaded a special video on Instagram to help raise money for charity Save The Children. The clip, which was filmed by Harry, sees Meghan reading Duck! Rabbit! out loud to a giggling and slightly restless Archie.
So what next for the royal family’s most rebellious couple? Well, you should expect to hear a lot more from the pair, literally, following their signing with one of the world’s most exclusive speaker bureaux. The Harry Walker Agency also represents former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and their respective wives, Michelle and Hillary.
Just don’t expect to hear many royal revelations whenever Harry and Meghan showcase their public speaking skills. The pair have explicitly stated that they won’t discuss anything to do with their positions in the monarchy. Instead, they hope to focus on major world issues such as gender inequality, climate change and racial justice.
But their social activism doesn’t end there. In June 2020 the couple were reported to have aligned themselves with #stophateforprofit. Founded by several civil rights groups, this campaign implores companies to stop advertising on Facebook due to the social media platform’s lack of action regarding hate speech. Harry and Meghan will also further highlight the issue of online health and safety through the launch of their Archewell charity.