Finding Freedom, the new book about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by royal reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, was excerpted in the UK this past weekend, resulting in all kinds of outrage from most UK press outlets. It’s been interesting to see what parts of the excerpts people are reacting to, especially in comparison to how the book is being covered in the US. As we’ve seen, many of the British papers have fixated on the details of the Sussexes’ departure from the British royal family, replaying the “Meghan stole Harry from England” narrative that dominated at the beginning of the year. Earlier this week, I wrote that what was being missed in that coverage was how the book is also meant to be read like a rom-com – after all, this is the story between a prince, literally, and an actress.
How will the American media report on the book?
We’re getting some idea now with PEOPLE’s new cover story. The story on PEOPLE’s website right now is pretty boring, with very few new details. But the print issue is a six-page spread and the details they’re pulling out of the book excerpts have a significantly different tone. Here, for example, is one quote that did not come out of the British coverage about when Harry and Meghan first met. After their blind date at Soho House in London, Harry apparently told a friend:
“Wow. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life.”
They spent three hours together and then, by the time she was back in her hotel room, he’d already texted her. This part made me LOL:
“Harry wasted no time in texting Meghan, who was back in her hotel room. His messages were often short and full of emojis, in particular the ghost emoji, which he used often instead of a smiley face.”
The GHOST EMOJI?!
There is no explanation for this. Nobody knows why he favours the ghost emoji instead of a smiley face. But this is the kind of random sh-t I signed up for.
What’s also good and gossipy is the part about when Meghan was papped in Toronto in December 2016 wearing that “M & H” necklace. That day, she posted a photo on Instagram of her beagle, Guy, wearing a Union Jack sweater. Which was basically the bat and horny signal for Harry to get on a plane and come over. He showed up 24 hours later. But then she got a call from a Kensington Palace aide lecturing her for wearing the necklace because it was encouraging too much interest in their situation. So the tension between Harry and Meghan and the courtiers started very early into their relationship as they tried to micromanage the romance.
Finding Freedom has been accused over the last few days of being biased towards the Sussexes. Certainly, since some of their friends spoke to the authors for the book, it’s definitely not going to be a takedown piece, like Lady Colin Campbell’s book about Harry and Meghan. That said, is there at all any balance? Harry and Meghan have been treated unfairly for sure. The targeted and racist attacks have been relentless. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t made mistakes. Towards the end of the PEOPLE Magazine cover story on Finding Freedom, there are details from the book about the couple’s impatience, and how that might have cost them.
Even sources close to Harry and Meghan admit that the way the couple were forced to approach the situation – keeping the family and the team in the dark about their website – “created a lot of ill will in the household and especially in the family”.
“Harry and Meghan would have reached a more beneficial agreement to allow them to live the life they wanted if they handled things in a private, dignified way,” explained a senior Buckingham Palace aide. Added another courtier, “They oversimplified what they were asking for.”
The book goes on to say that Harry and Meghan felt “patronised”.
“People had humoured them when they brought up their grievances, never thinking the couple would do anything drastic. The explosive reaction was a direct result of their growing impatience. If other members of the family and those working with the Households had taken their requests more seriously, it wouldn’t have reached that point.”
Obviously there was a breakdown in communication. No one was communicating effectively. The palace has always been obstinate and the Sussexes are impulsive. This is not to say that the Sussexes’ were unjustified in their disappointment, but that in the understandable emotion of it all, they may not have been entirely strategic when figuring out their plans. Finding Freedom then will likely elaborate on the Sussex impetuousness while acknowledging the increasing toxicity of their royal environment – and it sounds like the authors name names. Because right off the top of the PEOPLE cover story, this tantalising thread is left hanging:
“The book also opens a window onto friction [Harry and Meghan] faced from some in the old palace guard, such as Queen Elizabeth’s longtime dresser Angela Kelly."
Isn’t that the kind of tea we all pre-ordered?