Royal historian A.N. WILSON, no matter how ridiculous Scobie's book seems... ... trends now

Royal historian A.N. WILSON, no matter how ridiculous Scobie's book seems... ... trends now
Royal historian A.N. WILSON, no matter how ridiculous Scobie's book seems... ... trends now

Royal historian A.N. WILSON, no matter how ridiculous Scobie's book seems... ... trends now

Omid Scobie has entitled his ridiculous book about the Royal Family Endgame. Both in its pages, and on the apparently ceaseless round of TV interviews which he has done to promote his drivel, he is making big claims. 

Not long ago, he told the popular TV show Good Morning America: '[For the monarchy] there's no holding back any more. We are in the endgame.'

Scobie has a book to sell and, naturally, no tactic is too cynical if it serves the aim of earning back a small part of the enormous advance he has been paid to write it — and thus bring yet more riches from his appropriately named royalties.

Some readers will sneer at his effort. Surely, they will say, he is just a purveyor of tittle-tattle. How can the great British monarchy, stretching back to Alfred the Great, feel threatened by a youngish guy in a suede jacket telling us that, unless the King follows his advice, he is toast?

After all, when you actually analyse the fruits of Scobie's researches, it does not amount to much.

The late Queen — says Scobie — thinks that Kate Middleton was 'coachable', unlike the late Lady Diana Spencer. Hardly earth-shattering.

What has propelled Scobie's book onto the front pages, of course, is the semi-farce of the Dutch translation.

The late Queen — says Scobie — thinks that Kate Middleton was 'coachable', unlike the late Lady Diana Spencer. Hardly earth-shattering

The late Queen — says Scobie — thinks that Kate Middleton was 'coachable', unlike the late Lady Diana Spencer. Hardly earth-shattering

Charles has had a really successful and popular first year

Charles has had a really successful and popular first year

We all remember that Oprah Winfrey nearly fell off her chair in shock — or pretended to — when Meghan Markle told her that a member of the Royal Family was, by implication, racist. According to the Duchess, this was because the unnamed royal had expressed 'concerns' about the colour of Archie's skin.

The real worry, so Meghan or her publicists wanted us to believe, was that Archie might inherit his mother's African-American pigmentation. But is it not more likely that this was a perfectly innocent inquiry about which of his parents he would most resemble?

In the Dutch translation of Scobie's book, the hitherto unnamed royal who put this offensive line of questioning was not, in fact, one person but two: the King and the Princess of Wales.

Was it all a carefully organised stunt?

Was it all a carefully organised stunt?

Of course, we do not know if this is true. If — a very big if — Charles or Kate, or both, mused aloud on Archie's future appearance, we do not know whether there was a smidgen of racism going through their head. But, in the Dutch edition, they were named nonetheless.

As a result, the entire print-run of the Dutch edition had to be pulped.

Difficult to know what was implied here.

Was it all a carefully organised stunt? As someone who has had his work translated into many languages, I can tell you that the Dutch print-run is always the smallest, since so few people speak Dutch and most Dutch people speak better English than we do.

So, if it was a hoax, they were not running much of a financial risk. They probably had to pulp only a few thousand copies, if that. And it makes a good story that someone mysteriously 'leaked' the true names of the alleged royal racists.

It's interesting, isn't it, that the two names, Charles and Kate, are also the two royals who are doing the most to preserve and strengthen the monarchy as a serious constitutional entity.

Charles has had a really successful and popular first year; Kate shows an apparently inexhaustible willingness to be on parade on an almost daily basis — taking part in rugby practice, visiting hospitals and schools and smiling with natural radiance wherever she goes.

He would like to bring down the monarchy  

If you were wanting to undermine the monarchy, these two would be your targets. And that, perhaps, is why, having been initially scornful of the Omid Publicity Circus, we should perhaps be more vigorous in our rejection of his title — Endgame — and of his ambition.

Be in no doubt: he would like to bring down the British monarchy. Those who have the King's best interests at heart should therefore take his ridiculous book far more seriously than you might think it deserves.

We all remember that Oprah Winfrey nearly fell off her chair in shock — or pretended to — when Meghan Markle told her that a member of the Royal Family was, by implication, racist

We all remember that Oprah Winfrey nearly fell off her chair in shock — or pretended to — when Meghan Markle told her that a member of the Royal Family was, by implication, racist

At any one time, there are two stories going on about the monarchy. One is what you could call the Royal Soap Opera, and the other revolves around the British constitution, of which the monarchy is a vital part.

We all enjoy talking about the Soap Opera — the marital gossip, the quarrels between family members, the sort of petty rumour-mongering which has been dramatised to such effect in Netflix's The Crown or made into such riotous pantomime in Channel 4's The Windsors. The alternative narrative is less accessible fare.

The divorce of Diana haunts her two sons 

What makes Scobie's interventions significant is that the two — the gossip and the constitution — are related to one another. Sometimes, in the history of the monarchy, what seems to be just soap opera and tittle-tattle turns out to be of absolutely historic importance.

Two obvious 20th-century examples are the Abdication Crisis of 1936 and the collapse of Charles and Diana's marriage in the 1990s.

In both these cases, something that started out as trivial scuttlebutt erupted into a major crisis that could have brought the monarchy to an end.

In 1936, this was because so many people still took seriously the link between the Crown and the Church. The King wanted to marry a divorced woman, which in those days was forbidden by the Church of England, an institution of which he was head.

It was a headlong collision between private passion and the rules.

Because Edward VIII wanted private passion to win that contest, he had to go. Otherwise, a very core institution of the British state would have crumbled. In the case of the divorce of Charles and Diana, there were, of course, echoes of 1936 but by then the Church — and society — had a more laidback attitude to marital breakdown.

Many of the British people, including churchgoers, had experienced failed marriages. There was, nevertheless, a major constitutional crisis.

Our future head of state, in an interview with his friend Jonathan Dimbleby, confessed to

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