Omid Scobie’s Endgame: How could the Dutch translation ‘mistake’ happen?

While a translation error has been blamed, questions have been raised as to how such an embarrassing mistake could have been allowed into print

Holly Evans
Thursday 30 November 2023 10:10 GMT
(Calder Publicity/HarperCollins, Getty Images, Luke Fontana)

In the latest controversy to hit the Royal Family, a translated version of a new book has supposedly included a highly damaging reference linking a member of the monarchy to a race row that has plagued their reputation for over two years.

Copies of royal author Omid Scobie’s Dutch-version of Endgame were dramatically pulled from the shelves in The Netherlands on Tuesday evening, with the publisher ackowledging an “error” had occurred.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry first made the explosive claim that a senior member of the royal family had made comments about the skin colour of their unborn son Archie during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021.

The couple declined to name the person involved, while the British monarchy was thrown into turmoil with the Prince of Wales retorting: “We’re very much not a racist family.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made the race claim during their interview with Oprah Winfrey (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions/PA) (PA Media)

Yet now, a version of Scobie’s book appears to name to senior royals at the heart of the claims, while Piers Morgan identified them on his TalkTV show on Wednesday evening.

Mr Morgan said: “If Dutch people wandering into a bookshop can see these names, then you, the British people who actually pay for the royal family are entitled to know, too.”

Yet questions have now emerged as to how the explosive material ever made it into stores, and how such an embarrassing mistake was allowed to occur?

Scobie has insisted the identification of the royals – one of whom was named specifically, and the other alluded to – was simply a “translation error”.

However, royal experts who have examined both versions have speculated that this may have been part of a draft or previous edit, that was mistakenly not updated in the Dutch version.

Endgame has been pulled from book shelves in The Netherlands (EPA)

Dutch journalist Rick Evers, who had read the translated version, told Good Morning Britain co-host Richard Madeley that he didn’t believe the names were included due to “translation errors”, as Scobie suggested, adding that “something has been erased” in the English version.

“I can’t believe that it was a translation error,” he said. “We saw some passages were missing in the English version. Like, five sentences between the first and third part that wasn’t in the English version. So, something has been erased during the work that has been done for the book.”

He said he believes the names were in Scobie’s original manuscript but that “legal agents” advised against them being included in the final version.

Veteran royal reporter Phil Dampier also told Mail Online: “It’s very hard to believe that this error occurred due to a problem with the translation, and I’ve not seen the Dutch publisher claim this is what happened. How can you mistranslate two names? It just doesn’t make sense.”

The Sussexes have refused to name the royals involved in the conversation (PA)

While the version being sold in English-speaking countries does not name the two people allegedly involved, Scobie does state: “Laws in the United Kingdom prevent me from reporting who they were.”

Speaking to Dutch TV, the writer said: “The book is available in a number of languages and unfortunately I can’t speak Dutch so I haven’t seen the copy for myself, but if there have been any translation errors I am sure the publisher has got it under control.

“For me, I edited and wrote the English version; there has never been a version that I’ve produced that has names in it.”

The publisher’s managing director, Anke Roelen, said on Tuesday night: “An error occurred in the Dutch translation and is currently being rectified.”

As a result, the publishing house, Xander Uitgevers, is “temporarily withdrawing the book”, with its release day descending into chaos ahead of a “rectified” version being published.

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