This past Tuesday, August 31, was the 24th anniversary of the untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Coincidentally or not, it was also the day that Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand’s reissue of Finding Freedom was released.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Finding Freedom is the biography of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex that was written for an American audience and is extremely flattering and favourable to the couple.
The authors of the book have said many times that the book was not authorized by Harry or Meghan in any way and that they did not contribute to the book (wink). Scobie and Durand contend that reporting in the book came out of interviews and quotes from unnamed friends and other sources close to the couple who wanted to set the record straight after months of negative press. (This was later proven to be at least partially false when, during testimony in advance of the trial brought on by Meghan suing The Mail on Sunday, Meghan’s lawyers were forced to admit that Meghan directed some of her close friends to speak to Durand and Scobie for the book. The justice in the case, Lord Justice Warby, also called out Meghan and/or Harry for leaking court documents to Omid Scobie in his capacity as a reporter for Harper’s Bazaar before the documents were to be made public, so Scobie could push publish on his stories about the lawsuit with exclusive details the moment that the documents were made available to the public. Lord Justice Warby chastized Meghan and/or Harry and said that he knew this had been the case.)
The original version of Finding Freedom was released in August 2020 and provided everything from details of what Harry and Meghan drank on their first date to bombshells about Meghan’s pre-wedding spat with the Queen’s jeweler, Angela Kelly, about which tiara she would wear to her wedding. The release of the original book was seen as a direct attack on the British Royal Family, as it was well known that Harry and Meghan in particular had helped with the book in some way or another. So this re-release, which includes an epilogue that provides Harry and Meghan’s thoughts on recent events like the Oprah interview and Meghan’s two post-Archie pregnancies.
On a personal note, I found it very annoying to have to buy a revised edition of a book that I already own, just so I can read a new 27-page epilogue. (Scobie and Durand, I hope you’re happy with the 40 dollars I’ve given you!) However, because of the generosity of my great supporters on Square and Patreon, I was able to buy the revised edition of Finding Freedom so I could live-tweet it for you. See below for my thoughts on the epilogue, the juiciest bits of which have been highlighted for your convenience:
- The first event depicted in the epilogue is Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah. The book says Oprah had “just a weekend to prepare for the primetime interview.” Why did H&M pull the trigger on the interview so quickly and why did it need to be filmed immediately?
- Two theories: Either 1) their cover was blown when Harpo reached out to ITV and spilled the beans about the upcoming interview and they wanted it in the can before BuckPal could stop it; or 2) they knew Philip was sick and there would soon be groundswell of support for the Firm.
- Re: point 2, I received the answer from a few super-smart readers. The interview was quickly booked because 1) Meghan had just won her lawsuit filed against The Mail on Sunday; and 2) Harry and Meghan had just been privately informed by the Queen that they would be asked to give back their royal patronages and continue to not be able to use their HRH styles indefinitely, and they wanted to get back at the BRF for it.
- The book has quotes from a Harpo source. Is it the same source who accidentally told ITV that the interview was happening? Was that person fired? I need to know!
- Book says there was a feeling of “now or never” re: speaking their truth re: the BRF to Oprah. Why? They have their whole lives to speak about their time in RF. Was there a triggering event for agreeing to do the interview? (See point 3.)
- Scobie and Durand use the phrase “the shackles were off” regarding H&M’s ability to speak freely to the press after having left the BRF. This phrasing is very evocative and deliberate – compares constraints of monarchy to slavery. This is a dig at the BRF’s treatment of Meghan and handling of the issue of race within the family and in terms of publicly speaking out about racism. This was a real “the gloves are off” moment for me.
- Scobie and Durand say H&M were “forced” to move to California from Canada during beginning of pandemic. They were not forced. They chose to move from one mansion with security to another mansion with security. Removal of their agency in decisions is strange.
- The book also states that a “careful distance” was kept between Oprah+crew and H&M due to COVID-19. There were “no hugs”. But H&M and Oprah were within touching distance the next day at H&M’s home/chicken coop. (Especially strange when vaccines were not yet available and Meghan was in a high-risk pregnancy owing to her previous miscarriage and age during the pregnancy.)
- Harry and Meghan began their lives in California by volunteering, dropping off meals. Scobie and Durand say “People didn’t even know it was them” but say in the same paragraph that paparazzi took photos of them because, even when masked, it was clear it was H&M.
- A source close to the couple told Scobie and Durand, “They will never turn their backs on any of their relationships.” The context of this quote was in relation to Meghan and Harry’s royal patronages and service to UK charities, but the general nature of the statement, combined with the fact that Harry and Meghan have a tendency to burn bridges left and right, made me laugh.
- Scobie and Durand quote Meghan as saying that the online trolling that she faced as a member of the BRF was “almost survivable.” The actual quote is “almost unsurvivable.” Can someone tell Omid about the typo? He has me blocked on Twitter.
- Scobie and Durand say that Montecito was a great choice for H&M because it was “double-gated” but also “close enough to the amenities of civilization when needed.” Next paragraph says they took out a ($9 million) mortgage, “like nearly all average couples.” Relatable!
- There is a confirmation that Meghan reached out directly to Omid Scobie in 2020 to check in on him after seeing that he had been attacked by online trolls. A great tidbit for Omid’s career and a not-so-great tidbit for H&M, who are trying to distance themselves from him.
- We get confirmation that Harry plans to continue paying tribute to servicepeople in the future, as he did in 2020 at an LA cemetery at which he and Meghan hired a professional photographer to take pictures of them laying a wreath and looking mournful.
- The book states that Harry and Meghan know “courtiers inside the institution are still determined to undermine [H&M] by deliberately leaking information to discredit them.” The example used to demonstrate this is the Times’ scoop on Meghan bullying claims in KenPal.
- Again, Scobie and Durand seem to contradict themselves by saying that Meghan was worried by these “defamatory” bullying stories, while acknowledging that the HR/employee email re: Meghan’s bullying that was referenced in the story was legitimate.
- Side note: Scobie and Durand call the D+D of Cambridge “William and Kate” and their foundation “William and Kate’s Royal Foundation.” I feel like this is a deliberate slight/trying to take the shine off the BRF’s “golden couple” by not using their actual titles or the title of their foundation. But it’s a small point.
- Re: the diamond earrings gifted by MBS and worn by Meghan to a State dinner in Fiji, “sources” say they only knew that the earrings were “a gift from the Saudi royal family.” This is the first acknowledgment we have that Meghan knew the earrings were from the Saudi RF. Strictly as a diplomatic matter, knowing they were gifted from the Saudi RF, and that a Washington Post journalist and American resident had recently been murdered, likely on the orders of a member of the Saudi RF, is MORE than enough reason not to wear them.
- Finding Freedom attempts to defend Meghan by saying that multiple members of the BRF, including the Queen, have received jewels from members of the Saudi RF. True. But they didn’t wear them three weeks after a resident of their own country was ordered murdered and dismembered.
- Scobie+Durand write that all of the Sussexes’ legal actions over the last year have either been “won or settled”. They also say Justice Warby decided in Meghan’s favour in the Mail on Sunday case without adding that Justice Warby called out MM’s leaks to Omid in his ruling lol.
- Re: Meghan bullying allegations, the book says multiple times they are false and defamatory but also confirms that the emails around it at KenPal were genuine and a terrible leak by “the Firm”/invasion of privacy.
- The book also insinuates that the Times bullying story was only pushed forward after knowledge of the Oprah interview. This is incorrect – the story had been in the works for weeks/months. The Times *asked H&M for comment* 24h after interview news was made public.
- The book incorrectly states that H&M wanted title for Archie because they wanted to “provide their son with the level of security that only comes with a title.” For the 100th time: title /= security. Plus the funded security determination is made by the Met, not the BRF.
- Harry and Meghan are said to be angry that their racism allegations weren’t formally addressed but Meghan’s bullying claims are being investigated. Claims race claims are “far more damaging than bullying”. 1-bullying claims are HR matter 2-racism claim is private family matter.
- The book claims several times that Harry needed to get back to the UK after Philip’s death to take care of/look after/spend time with the Queen. As if 1-she didn’t have anyone to take care of her 2-she was there alone at Windsor Castle 3-Harry wasn’t in quarantine.
- One of the last sentences of the epilogue says that Meghan is happy to have her “knight” protecting her and standing beside her. You can just say prince! Prince is the literal, correct term in this situation lol.
- The title of the book is no longer “Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family.” It’s now just “Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan.”
- Last fun fact: the authors state that Harry liked BetterUp in part because of the work BetterUp did at Chevron. The oil and gas conglomerate Chevron.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting the blog so I can do things like buy a book twice at full price on release day and then give you the scoop on it!
Thanks for reading. And thank you specifically to Yankee Doodle on Twitter for your generous support!