Omid Scobie’s publisher to conduct an inquiry into the Dutch racist-royal naming

While I’ve found the New York Times’ coverage of the British royals a bit too condescending and conservative in recent years, they did a pretty thorough summary of everything that’s gone down this week with the whole “Dutch translation of Omid Scobie’s Endgame” situation. The first Dutch print included, seemingly out of nowhere, the names of the two “royal racists” who had “concerns” about what color skin Prince Archie would have. For a full day, the British media danced around who was accidentally named or misidentified or what have you. Then Piers Morgan blew it up by saying, on his TV show, that the Dutch edition named King Charles and Princess Kate. The Times notes – and this clarified one big question – that after the passage where Charles is named as one of the racists, there’s a “later reference to the Princess of Wales being involved in conversations about Archie” but it is “less specific.” The Times also notes:

The managing director of the publisher, Anke Roelen, said it would investigate how the names ended up in the book. “It was an extremely precise process that took months,” she said. “So, we are very careful with drawing any conclusions.”

Dutch publishing executives were skeptical that a translator would have added the names. “The only thing I can think of that could have happened is that the translator translated from an early pass” of the manuscript, said Willem Bisseling, a literary agent at Sebes & Bisseling. “But that’s just a guess.”

Some speculated that the libel laws had handcuffed Mr. Scobie as tightly as the press. Daniel Taylor, a media lawyer at the London firm Taylor Hampton, said the author and his publisher were at risk of a defamation suit if the people who made the comments “were deemed to be racist in posing the question” about the child’s skin color.

“If the names were included in the book by mistake without sufficient evidence to back up who made the allegation or the circumstances in which it was made,” Mr. Taylor added, “that may have led to a decision to pulp the copies.”

[From The NY Times]

As Scobie said in his British TV interview on Thursday, “I have never submitted a book that had their names in it.” The inquiry referenced by the NYT and the Guardian is something in-house, within HarperCollins (Endgame’s publisher) and their foreign subsidiaries or what have you. I have no idea how it works for translations and international editions, but I do think that within the publishing world (especially for something as high-profile and delicate as a major book about the Windsors), there would be an extensive paper trail, both physical paperwork and digital records. I read my copy from HarperCollins just days before the book’s publication and I was impressed with the level of digital security around Endgame. I’m just saying, it seems like it should be pretty easy to suss out where and when the names were added.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail’s crack team of stalkers found one of the Dutch translators. Judging from the photos, they went to her home, knocked on her door, photographed her in her doorway and barraged her with questions. It’s absolutely a huge violation. According to the DM stalkers, she claims that she only translated what was in front of her and “The names of the royals were there in black and white. I did not add them. I just did what I was paid to do and that was translate the book from English into Dutch.” She also said that another translator worked on Endgame. I’m sure the Mail is already looking for his or her home address. What a f–king mess.

Here’s Omid Scobie’s full interview on This Morning (from Thursday).

Photos courtesy of Omid Scobie’s Instagram.

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