Lawyers for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle today denied the couple had ‘reignited a rift’ with the Queen after an updated biography claimed they believe she has failed to act over their accusations of racism.
The new edition of Finding Freedom suggests the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were ‘not surprised’ at a perceived lack of action over their claim that a senior royal expressed ‘concern’ about their unborn child’s skin colour.
It says they took exception to a carefully-worded statement from the Queen, following their interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, in which she expressed concern for the couple but insisted that ‘some recollections may vary’.
Days later, Prince William told reporters that the royals were ‘very much not a racist family’ and admitted he was yet to speak to his estranged brother following the Oprah interview. Now, the updated edition of Finding Freedom has claimed that the Sussexes were far from happy at Buckingham Palace’s official response.
But their legal team at Schillings told MailOnline today that it was false and defamatory to claim the couple have ‘reignited a rift’ with the Queen – or to suggest or imply that they have made any statements to that effect.
Their lawyers insisted there were no new developments on the topic and that the claims were from the authors of the book, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, who do not speak for the Sussexes and rely on unnamed sources.
Mr Scobie also tried to clarify the situation, tweeting: ‘Back at this rodeo and, predictably, words are already being twisted. The comments made by a SOURCE (a detail some outlets have purposefully ignored) was about a lack of ownership from the royal institution as a whole. There’s no ‘attack’ against the Queen anywhere in the book.’
An excerpt from the new version of Finding Freedom due to be published in People magazine in the US tomorrow states that the couple believe senior royals have not taken ‘accountability’ – preventing a major thaw in relations.
The extract reads: ‘Those three words, ‘recollections may vary’, did not go unnoticed by the couple, who a close source said were ‘not surprised’ that full ownership was not taken. ‘Months later and little accountability has been taken,’ a pal of Meghan’s added. ‘How can you move forward without that?’ ‘
Harry and Meghan spoke to Oprah Winfrey in a bombshell interview in March in which they accused a senior royal of racism
The Queen during a military inspection at the gates at Balmoral on August 9, as she took up summer residence at the castle
Prince Harry speaks to Kate Middleton as he walks out of Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle with Prince William in April
Earlier today, MailOnline also reported on how the updated version of Finding Freedom said Harry and Meghan have no regrets about leaving Britain and making bombshell claims accusing the Royal Family of racism.
The book now covers Harry’s return to the UK in April for his grandfather Prince Philip‘s funeral – and says he bought a one-way ticket as he hoped he might be able to speak to his family directly, without staff being involved.
The new version of Finding Freedom will be out on August 31
It claims Harry spoke to his brother Prince William three times in all during the visit, as well as briefly chatting to his father, Prince Charles, after the service. He also enjoyed ‘precious moments’ with his grandmother, the Queen.
The biography, which was a glowing portrait of the Sussexes by Mr Scobie and Ms Durand first published in August 2020, concludes that the trip ‘broke the ice’ and that the door to a rapprochement is now ‘slightly ajar’.
Stating that Harry and Meghan have no regrets about their actions, despite the toll on their family, the book says: ‘What started [as a] fairytale romance became a story that reinvented the genre – a self-made, independent woman playing an equal role alongside her knight.’
The excerpt to be published in People also claims the couple felt nervous sitting down with chat show host Oprah but had decided that they needed to speak up now, or never.
‘There were so many things they were unable to say [before stepping back from their royal roles],’ it reads.
Although the Sussexes have insisted they did not co-operate directly with the book’s authors, the level of detail – and claims by both the writers and publisher, Harper Collins, that they had access to the couple’s close circle of friends and associates – has led some to claim that indirect help was provided.
The book’s authors have said, however, that Finding Freedom is ‘independent and unauthorised’ and that the couple did not speak to them about it.
The new version is set to be published on August 31 – the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. It contains an updated epilogue covering the Oprah interview, the death of Prince Philip, and the Sussexes’ plans for the future.
Royal author Omid Scobie is a trusted media contact of the Sussexes and co-wrote their biography Finding Freedom
Mr Scobie attempted to clarify the situation in a tweet today, following his comments published in People online yesterday
Harry joined his brother William at Kensington Palace on July 1 to unveil a statue they commissioned of their mother Diana
In an interview with People magazine, co-author Mr Scobie appears to suggest that Harry is not keen to ‘move on’ unless there is ‘accountability’ from ‘a number of individuals involved’ – including members of staff from ‘the institution’ as well as some relatives themselves.
Omid Scobie spoke to People magazine ahead of the re-release of Finding Freedom in paperback this month
Describing the situation as ‘complicated’, Mr Scobie said: ‘There are people within the family who [the Sussexes] are much closer to today than they were a year ago.
‘But in terms of Harry’s relationship with his father and brother, that progress has been very little. I think he is quite willing to own his part in everything, but I have been told that he is waiting to see some of that on the other side – and as of now there hasn’t been that.’
Mr Scobie adds that the California-based couple have learned to ‘prioritise their mental health’ and keep ‘some of the toxicity’ at an arm’s – and ocean’s – length away.’
He also claims they plan to enter a new ‘era of visibility’ this autumn, with a more ‘intentionally public’ life. ‘They’re a couple who do very well in those moments of human interaction,’ Mr Scobie said.
‘They need to be on the ground… they say that the proof is in the pudding, and what we are about to see is that pudding.’
After a period of parental leave following the birth of their daughter, Lilibet, the couple are apparently gearing up for a busy few months and were ‘really excited’ about the next chapter of their lives.
Mr Scobie added: ‘They seem to be existing in a different place, and that place is much healthier. Meghan famously spoke about that it was not enough to survive – we are now in the thrive chapter.’
He was referring to the duchess’s infamous interview with ITV news anchor Tom Bradby in which complained about the difficulties of living in the royal spotlight, saying: ‘It’s not enough to just survive something. You’ve got to thrive.’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex volunteer with Baby2Baby at a school in Los Angeles, California, in August 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend an engagement in London in March 2020 before they stood down as senior royals
He also said that the couple had been afraid of ‘the consequences of stepping away and challenging the system’, but the birth of their son, Archie, ‘gave them that energy to stand up for what was right for them’.
Mr Scobie said the couple were planning to expand their charity work through the not for profit arm of their organisation, Archewell, which is also the vehicle for their lucrative Netflix and Spotify deals.
Buckingham Palace did not comment on the book’s content last year. A spokesman declined to comment last night on the latest claims.
On Tuesday, Harry and Meghan issued an extraordinary statement in response to events in Afghanistan and other global crises, declaring: ‘The world is exceptionally fragile right now.’
Declaring themselves ‘speechless’ at recent humanitarian disasters, the couple also managed to pontificate at length on their website about how they had been left ‘heartbroken’ and ‘scared’ about the earthquake in Haiti, new Covid variants and the continuing global health crisis.