December has been a momentous month for Omid Scobie, the British journalist who is best known for his coverage of the royal family. Not only did “Endgame,” his second book about palace intrigue, debut at No. 12 on the hardcover nonfiction list, Scobie also learned that a judge ruled in Prince Harry’s favor in a lawsuit against a phone-hacking tabloid publisher.
Scobie provided testimony in the case, recalling his own experience as a college intern in the newsroom at Mirror Group Newspapers. “There,” he writes, “I witnessed conversations about phone hacking by senior staff, including The Mirror’s editor in chief at the time, Piers Morgan.”
In a phone interview, Scobie rejected the notion that Prince Harry — who, along with his wife, Meghan, was the subject of Scobie’s first book — might have been motivated by “petty revenge with the press for making his life difficult.” Scobie said, “In this case, it was about so much more than his own victories. It was about bringing this culture of illegal and unethical news-gathering methods into the public domain.”
Thanks to his association with the most outspoken and prolific members of the royal family, Scobie has endured his own violations of privacy. He recalled strangers attempting to access his medical files. “You see a name pop up on your credit searches and you know it’s linked to a private investigator,” he said. “Obviously I can’t prove anything, but I see the digging and snooping and think how that must affect people who deal with this on a major scale.”
Of course, as a journalist, Scobie was loath to become part of the story he was covering (“I always just wanted to be a byline”), and he chafes against accusations that he’s a “mouthpiece” or a “cheerleader” for the Sussexes. But he also seemed sanguine about the idea that the title of his book has implications beyond the survival of the monarchy. Indeed, it applies to a particular phase of his own career.
“I was more than happy to burn my bridges to tell this story because I think that to tell the best version of it you have to shine a light in the darkest places,” Scobie said. “But I also realize that the outcome of that was being essentially blacklisted from things with the palace moving forward. Which I’m absolutely OK with.”
What’s next for Scobie? “My passion has always been in storytelling, whether that is through writing or podcasts or TV or documentary,” he said. Now based in Los Angeles, he is “looking into other mediums, shall we say.”
Elisabeth Egan is an editor at the Book Review and the author of “A Window Opens.”