The answer: “‘If she had just sat down and listened instead of trying to be so bloody opinionated all the time, we wouldn’t be in this situation.’”
“I think that really sums up the problem here,” Scobie says. “She is not submissive; she is not the subservient royal wife that perhaps we’re used to or more comfortable with seeing. She challenged the norms of what a female royal role is—and I’m very aware of the fact that the Queen is very much a feminist herself and a woman of power in a very strong role. But I’m talking about the newcomers that marry into the royal family who, for their differences, are often turned into the enemy.”
In addition to being American, Meghan came in with a work ethic very far from what Buckingham Palace is used to seeing, Scobie says. “I think it scared some people. Change is scary, especially within the institution.”
But even in her brief tenure as a working royal, Meghan made an undeniably huge impact. For one, she drew a “much more diverse crowd of well-wishers,” Scobie says. “For the first time for many, Meghan was someone within the House of Windsor people could connect with and relate to. She changed the connotation of what it means to be regal or royal—which, up until then, had always been white. It’s such a shame that is no longer a part of the royal family, because I don’t know how we move forward from here. I don’t know how it modernizes, having missed out on a golden opportunity to do so.”
In the year between Harry and Meghan’s step back and the final decision about their future as working royals, Scobie had hoped it’d be a moment of reflection for everyone. But, he says, “It seems a year on we are pretty much in the same place.”
And then, reports surfaced this week claiming that Meghan bullied royal staffers, in what feels like a preemptive strike before the CBS tell-all airs. The panic feels much like that of the dread preceding the release of Finding Freedom in August, Scobie says. “It ultimately was a waste of everyone’s time and energy, because when the book came out people saw a fair portrayal of the situation. I don’t think anyone came out of that book from the royal family looking bad.”
He expects the same of Sunday’s interview. While the special will be a chance for Harry and Meghan to share their story, he predicts it won’t be the smear campaign so many seem to be feverishly anticipating. “I wish everyone would just take a deep breath and have a little faith,” Scobie says.
Maybe the problem really isn’t a couple speaking their truth in a sit-down interview with Oprah. Maybe the problem is the truth itself, about both the institution the pair once worked for and the treatment from the press that covers it so vociferously.
“It could have been so different,” Scobie says.
Rachel Burchfield is a freelance writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British royal family.