Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are beginning a new phase of their lives, after stepping back as working members of the royal family earlier this year and subsequently moving to California.
The couple have settled in quickly, volunteering with local Los Angeles charities, speaking out against disinformation and online hate, and becoming important voices in the fight against racial injustice ― all while continuing their work with their patronages across the pond.
As we see the work the couple are doing now ― beyond the confines of palace walls and the rules that go along with being a senior member of The Firm ― it’s impossible not to think about what’s to come in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s future.
HuffPost spoke with Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, co-authors of the New York Times bestselling biography “Finding Freedom,” last week about their predictions for where the couple will be in five years, what their bombshell book was originally supposed to be about, and what the journalists meant by their much buzzed-about author’s note.
Scobie said that he thinks in five years, the couple’s nonprofit organization, Archewell ― which has not yet launched ― will hold “a huge place within the charitable landscape in the U.S.”
“I think we’re only really seeing the beginnings of Archewell ― they’re clearly taking their time on [launching] that,” he said. “I think that shows a maturity or a growth in the couple that we are sort of maybe seeing for the first time, they’re really taking their time. I know that in the past, there’s sometimes felt that need to sort of rush into something.”
He added, “I think that the fact that they’re taking their time on this really shows that this will be the crux of their legacy for the foreseeable future.”
Durand said the couple’s new chapter spells out an “incredibly exciting time for them.”
“The old romantic in me that loves their fairytale story would love to see them expand their family. That’s something that they want,” she said, adding the caveat that, of course, “everyone’s choice is up to them.”
“If they model their future ― and I think this is one of their goals ― in the same fashion that Melinda and Bill Gates or Michelle and Barack Obama have done, it’s going to be a very inspiring future for them and incredibly exciting for all of us,” the journalist said.
“They’re incredibly inspirational examples of people who have used their platform to create change,” Durand added of the couple. “And I think that that’s great for all sorts of young people around the world who are struggling. In five years, I imagine that they’re going to help all sorts of people just like Harry and William and Kate did with their mental health campaign.”
Scobie quipped that he would also like to see the Sussexes get another dog, “just because I want to see how long it will take people to find out its name this time.” The authors were the first to reveal the name of Harry and Meghan’s black Labrador ― Pula ― whom they adopted together in August 2018.
Dog details aside, much of “Finding Freedom” is understandably focused on the events leading up to ― and the aftermath of — the couple’s decision to step back as working royals. But the authors said that their book was originally supposed to be much different.
The two began working on a book about the Sussexes just after the couple got married, but Scobie said that the “twists and turns definitely came by surprise.”
The book was initially going to tell the story of Meghan and Harry’s courtship, their first year of marriage, and their first weeks and months at home with Archie — and also correct false tabloid reports.
“We just felt like we were seeing a big difference between what was being reported and what we’re hearing from those close to the couple and those working with the couple and the couple that we saw in front of us,” he said. “It became this great opportunity to sort of set the record straight, but also tell what was essentially a great love story.”
But during Meghan’s pregnancy and following the birth of Archie, Scobie said that they had “a sense that things were beginning to change behind the scenes with the couple.”
“I think there are many things that they grew increasingly frustrated with. And as new parents, they wanted to do everything they could to protect their new child as well,” he said. “Those are really those early conversations that they had about changing their working model. And as it transpired that things were actually moving, it made sense for Carolyn and I to hold off and really see what happened.”
After the authors found out that Archie would accompany the couple on their royal tour of South Africa, they decided to hold off publishing until after the trip. And then things “changed dramatically,” Durand said, as the couple headed to Canada and then in January announced their intention to step back from the royal family. But that’s not why they decided to write the book.
“We had no idea that they would ultimately announce that they were stepping back from the royal family at all. It wasn’t part of the equation. It wasn’t anything we anticipated,” she said. “So there was no sense of starting a book in order to write something that ― as some of the newspapers have said ― capitalized on that situation.”
Some have also suggested that the book was authorized by the couple ― and that they would’ve gotten litigious if they weren’t involved in some way. But the authors have continued to deny that they collaborated on the biography with Meghan and Harry themselves, despite some saying that key details in the book couldn’t have come from anyone but the couple themselves.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we’re in an era where being fair to people is considered hagiographical or sycophantic or that Carolyn and I are cheerleaders or whatever else is being said,” Scobie said. “But ultimately I think what we felt was there was just a side to this story that was either not making it into pages of the tabloids or wasn’t being heard because the right people weren’t being spoken to.”
In a statement to HuffPost, a spokesperson for the duke and duchess denied that they were interviewed for or contributed to the book. But one can’t help but think of royal biographer Andrew Morton, who revealed in 1997 that the main source for his 1992 biography of Princess Diana, called “Diana, Her True Story,” was the late royal herself — though the two technically never spoke to each other.
Some readers have pointed to the author’s note, saying they essentially admitted to using the Sussexes as sources.
“We have spoken with close friends of Harry and Meghan, royal aides and palace staff (past and present), the charities and organizations they have built long-lasting relationships with and, when appropriate, the couple themselves,” the note reads.
Scobie clarified to HuffPost what exactly they meant with the note: “As royal correspondents, you obviously have a front-row seat into the working lives of members of the royal family. And that includes exchanging a few words here and there on an engagement or a royal tour.
“I think every member of the royal press pack has their own stories about conversations they have with various members of the royal family,” he said. “And we include some of those fun anecdotes in the book. It’s very obvious what’s there and we’re very clear with who we’re quoting.”
He reiterated that the work is an unofficial, unauthorized biography and denied that the Sussexes are quoted as anonymous sources or “friends” of the couple.
“But what we did have access to is an incredible, textured landscape of sources to speak to — not just [people] close to the couple, but also close to other members of the royal family,” he said. Some of those sources are also close to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II.
“When people actually read the book rather than what’s being said about it in tabloids, [the note] makes a lot more sense,” Scobie said, laughing.
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