Omid Scobie royal book: More like action replay than endgame

LONDON- If you’re looking for sizzling royal drama, untold intrigue and scandal, this new book is probably going to be a disappointment. It’s called Endgame but much of it feels more like Action Replay. Omid Scobie’s widely trailed book covers familiar territory, with an account of family tensions and palace plots, through the era of Prince Harry and Meghan’s departure for the US, the late Queen’s death and into the new reign of King Charles. But with its relentlessly recriminatory tone, it’s often more mope opera than soap opera. It’s a slightly 2-D world where malign palace officials seem to be permanently conspiring with journalists. The chaos, cock-ups and boredom of real-life never seem to intrude. It’s inevitable that Endgame will be compared with Prince Harry’s firecracker memoir Spare. That was a book filled with firsthand emotions and raw experience. There were fights, drugs, fear, grieving and not to mention a frozen penis. Endgame is a much less red-blooded piece of writing. It’s more eggshell than bombshell. The title references a chess game, but it’s a highly one-sided match, all attack and not much defence. In Scobie’s book, Prince William is painted as emotionally volatile and manipulative, freezing out his brother. He’s described as a “company man - an institutional champion who’s privately embraced the draconian tactics of an antiquated and often vicious institution”. There are suggestions of tensions between his ambitions and the King’s “transitional” reign. Catherine, the Princess of Wales, in this version is “cold”, nicknamed “Katie Keen”, an almost silent figure trapped in endless photo-opportunities. The royal outrage industry - “how dare they say that!” - is always turning its amps up to 11. But when one of the shocking revelations is that Catherine was accused of being “coachable” you have to think there are probably worse things to be called. The King is a “stubborn eccentric” and a “flawed father” while Queen Camilla is accused of conniving with the press to improve her public image. But perhaps their greatest flaw is not being Prince Harry and Meghan, whose presence hangs heavily in the background. Their Netflix documentary and Harry’s Spare are seen as success stories taking the limelight from the jealous royal relations. Although the author is known for his association with the Sussexes, it was made clear that Prince Harry and Meghan had no involvement in this book project, but it certainly seems to be highly sympathetic to them. For instance, on the row about Prince Harry’s security and losing his home at Frogmore Cottage, the book says: “Staying on the Windsor estate was the Sussex family’s only truly safe option when visiting the United Kingdom, as the grounds are surrounded by armed guards.”

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