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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.

Why does Princess Kate set herself up this way? Here are photos of Prince William and Kate at last night’s Royal Variety show. Kate’s fans predicted she would wear a “revenge look,” causing one amazing person on my timeline to ask if Kate is seeking revenge from good taste. You would think, given the past week full of mild criticism of Kate’s laziness, her lack of personality and her Meghan copykeening, Kate would have done something other than “wear a designer worn by Meghan at several notable events.” Kate wore this Safiyaa gown, in what I can only imagine is their Disney Villainess style. The pointed shoulders are cartoonish. The color is nice, but yeah… Meghan wore it better. Kate’s hairpieces are so bad and obvious as well.

Meanwhile, as William and Kate slow-walked down the red carpet (posing is gauche, remember), someone shouted out questions about Omid Scobie’s book and Piers Morgan “naming” Kate and Charles as the royal racists. Will and Kate ignored the questions. Recollections didn’t vary after all – at the very least, we know Charles acknowledged exactly who said racist sh-t to Meghan and Harry. We also know that the identities of the racists have been common knowledge among journalists for a long time.

Also: Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel were along for the ride at the Royal Variety. I kind of love Vicky’s dress, she looks like she skinned a goth Muppet.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.

“The Rolling Stones, sponsored by AARP” still hasn’t gotten old for me (see what I did there!). The spritely Stones released Hackney Diamonds in October, their first new music since 2005, and then announced their AARP-sponsored 2024 tour a few weeks later. Tickets for the 16-date tour went on sale December 1, but sponsor AARP granted its members early access for the last two days of November. And what happened? Boomers crashed the site, y’all! A fleet of salt-n-pepper haired fans were left screaming “C’mon, start me up!!” at their stalled computer screens. Just getting the hiccups out of the way early, right AARP? The New York Post chronicled this inauspicious launch:

After six decades, the Rolling Stones’ oldest fans still can’t get no satisfaction.

That’s what didn’t happen on Wednesday morning when the AARP site crashed after tickets for the Stones 2024 “Hackney Diamonds” tour went on presale for members of the oldie org, which is sponsoring the stadium trek.

But what was supposed to be an early-bird special proved to be anything but that.

A message on the site read: “We are currently experiencing technical difficulties and are unable to complete your request. Our team is actively working to fix the issue, and we hope to resolve it soon. Thank you for your patience.”

So much for those senior perks.

Of course, the Rolling Stones are rock-star seniors themselves. Mick Jagger, 80; Keith Richards, who turns 80 Dec. 18; and Ronnie Wood, 76, will be a combined 236 years old when the tour backed by the organization once known as the American Association of Retired Persons kicks off April 28 in Houston, Texas.

The two-month trek — which includes a headlining show at the New Orleans Jazz Fest on May 2 and a MetLife Stadium stop in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on May 23, before wrapping up in Santa Clara, California, on July 17 — is behind the Stones’ new album “Hackney Diamonds.”

The band released its first LP of original material since 2005’s “A Bigger Bang” — and its first since the 2021 death of beloved drummer Charlie Watts — in October.

Reflecting on the 18 years since their last album of new material in September, Jagger quipped, “We’ve been very lazy.”

[From NY Post]

Yes, Mick, very lazy indeed. I only wish I were that kind of lazy! And speaking of, NY Post is also reporting that the Stones have already added dates due to the high demand. Chicago, Los Angeles, and East Rutherford, NJ (where New Yorkers will be going) have each gotten a second show date. The tour stops were fairly spread out to begin with — like they said, the band is a collective 236 years old, rest time must be carved out! — so I imagine these additional dates weren’t too difficult to drop in. I tell you, between the Rolling Stones tour and the Spinal Tap sequel filming next year, 2024 is shaping up to be a renaissance for the ‘70s and ‘80s. As in the ages, not decades.

Photos credit: IMAGO/Sergio Ruiz / PRESSINPHOTO / Avalon, PA Images/INSTARimages and via Instagram

Sydney Sweeney is unrecognizable in this wig! She’s in character for a movie called Eden, which is filming in Brisbane. [JustJared]
It’s hilarious to me that Taylor Swift’s fans are only just realizing, this year, that Taylor is going to bilk them for all of their money. [Buzzfeed]
Adam Brody isn’t proud of his behavior on The OC. [Socialite Life]
Keke Palmer did a lot of unpacking on her podcast. [LaineyGossip]
The Golden Bachelor was probably just some weird old man. [Pajiba]
This is a miss for me, Anne Hathaway. [Tom & Lorenzo]
Do you like Margot Robbie’s puffy suit? [GFY]
Is Larsa Pippen engaged? [Hollywood Life]
Alfonso Ribeiro talks about DWTS. [Seriously OMG]
Serena Williams talked about her mental health this week. [The Root]

Over the summer, Jessica Simpson did a big exclusive with Bustle – an editorial and an interview. I hadn’t seen new photos of her in a while and I was startled by how different she looked in those pics. She said, in the interview, that she’s not on Ozempic, but her face tells a different story. Well, Jessica stepped out this week in New York, and here are some photos of her appearance. She was honored at Footwear News’ Annual Achievement Awards and she received the Icon Award for her successful footwear and clothing company.

I’m not sure how much I want to get into it or try to figure out what Jessica has done to herself. After her third child and after Jessica got sober, she steadily lost weight and that changed her face. But… yeah, I also think she’s gotten some work done and it’s not good quality work either. She was always so beautiful, but it’s actually on-brand for Jess that she sort of looks like a Real Housewife now.

Professionally, Jessica is seemingly in a good place, so at least there’s that. She and her mother have basically bought back full control of Jessica’s eponymous clothing line and brand, and Jessica is maybe/probably still in debt up to her eyeballs. It honestly feels pretty tenuous, so I hope everything works out in the end.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

Elle Magazine published an excellent interview with Omid Scobie this week, wherein he ended up spilling some interesting royal tea and media tea. Some of it is “how the sausage is made” when it comes to tabloid reporting and royal image-making, but I honestly love that stuff. I love learning how the royal sausage is made. Scobie also confirmed to Elle that he knows Endgame will burn a lot of bridges and end a lot of relationships he has within the royal courts and even within the royalist/propagandist media. This is a longer piece (it’s great!) and worth the read – go here for the full piece. Some highlights:

How American media works outside the royal rota: “With Americans, it’s very different, but you also go further afield. That world of supermarket tabloids in the U.S. and all of the anonymous insider quotes and all the rest of it, I’ll lift the lid on some of it. A lot of that comes from royal correspondents in the U.K. and the press pack who are just making a bit of extra money on the side and not putting their name to the story, or they’re putting things out there that perhaps they may feel more comfortable putting in the American tabloids than they would in their own work.

A mention of Rose Hanbury: “On a more sinister level, as I talk about in the book, those rumors that could potentially cause more damage to the royal family, such as the fallout between William and Kate and Rose Hanbury, which started on the pages of The Sun newspaper in the U.K., ended up completely disappearing out of the public conversation thanks to diverting attention at The Sun newspaper to stories about Harry and Meghan. At face value, that sounds like a conspiracy theory so I wanted to break down in the book how that change actually happened, the conversations I had with the communications aides at Kensington Palace who were desperate to get rid of this rumor or get it out of the eyeline of a specific tabloid newspaper.

How the Sussexes are still being used to deflect: “You only need to look, [this past weekend] The Guardian newspaper broke a staggering story about how King Charles had secretly profited from the assets of dead British citizens, that the assets of thousands of people in the northwest of England were being used to upgrade his property empire via some archaic custom. These are details about the royal family that we don’t know about and should know about, but when you look to see which newspapers in the rest of the media landscape have picked up on that story today or covered it, it’s few and far between because people would much rather spend their time getting swept up in hysteria over whether Meghan steps out on a red carpet last night or has a new Netflix projects in the works, or whatever thing that they choose to be angry about at that time. I think that for the right-wing, mainstream British newspapers, it benefits them to rely on the easier, lazier style of reporting when it comes to the royals because ultimately it keeps them in the good books of the royal family. If they were to all seize on this story about Charles profiting from the assets of dead citizens, that would then turn it into a nightmare for the palace.

The palaces still openly brief against the Sussexes: “Listen, for years the Palace was hugely involved in briefing stories about Harry and Meghan. There is proof to support that, I have proof, Harry and Meghan have spoken about it. At this point it is fact upon fact, upon fact. I think if you look at it today, things are a little different. I don’t see much evidence of wheeling out stories about Harry and Meghan specifically from Kensington Palace since they changed their complete communications team. It seems that there is perhaps some hope that they can move away from that kind of approach. We still see stories that come out that clearly came from the Palace, The Sunday Times as a prime example. It’ll be stories about the Sussexes: Are they going or not going to Sandringham at Christmas? Have they been invited to this? Are they going to acknowledge Charles’ birthday? This or that or the other, so much of this comes from a royal correspondent picking up the phone and chit-chatting with a communications aide, and whatever comes from that conversation ends up becoming the story.

The Sussexes still sell in the UK: “The reality is that the papers know that Harry and Meghan are the more clickable, interesting story, whether people like them or not. I think a lot of people do it out of hate. I think they’re a couple that receive a lot of hate clicks, but they still receive more attention and engagement than anyone else. That in itself is a problem for the institution of the monarchy because if their main players aren’t the ones getting the attention on the front pages, then where do you go from there?

How Meghan feels about that family: “We’ve seen her in the last year really establish herself as an independent individual that is not riding on the coattails of her royal past or really even interested in being involved in that world. I know her team spoke about [how] she wasn’t coming over for the coronation because of Archie’s birthday, but I also know from speaking with people that there was also a desire to stay away from the noise and hysteria that comes any time she sets foot near the country, let alone the family. And the way they were treated during the time of the Queen’s death and the funeral really reinforced for her that she had not only made the right decision, but didn’t want to go anywhere near [it] again.

LMAO this mention of the Early Years: “I think Kate’s in a really interesting position because in many ways, she’s the last main attraction in terms of the guaranteed crowd-puller, the guaranteed front page, the attraction within the royal family when it comes to all the glamour and mystique and mystery that comes with the Firm. She does a good job of maintaining that, too. We still know very little about her, we don’t really know her thoughts or feelings on much beyond the early years, but I think that we have seen an evolution in Kate.”

How Meghan changed Kate’s whole deal: “I remember when Meghan was still a working member of the royal family, I was writing Finding Freedom, and I was talking with a senior aide at Kensington Palace that worked with all four at the time, and they described Meghan’s arrival doing all of these big projects and going from one thing to the next and wanting more. That was always her attitude. They described it as—and they never finished their sentence—but it was a bit of a rocket up [the …] for Kate”

Lazy Kate: “We have seen an evolution in her on all fronts, but I also feel that there’s a huge amount of pressure on her moving forward … being kind of the last shiny thing in the royal family. That’s a huge amount of pressure for someone who has, so far, carried out much less engagements than any other member of the royal family. Who, although we don’t ever say it, is technically a part-time working royal.”

The “Kate the Peacemaker” stories: “I have questioned where Kate the peacekeeper stories come from because I’ve certainly not had anyone tell me anything of the sort. From my observations and the conversations I’ve had with people, Kate likes to stay out of that stuff, and we’ve certainly not seen any efforts from her made to smooth things over with any issues with herself and Meghan or with Harry or any kind of encouragement between the two brothers to talk. I don’t know where the peacekeeper stuff comes from. I sometimes think that it’s just lazy journalism that of course this sweet and innocent wife would just want to get the men together to smooth things over because perhaps in a movie or a TV show, that’s how it would be portrayed.”

Infantilizing Kate: “I often find that a lot of the coverage about Kate is either wishful thinking or more insinuating than anything. I also find some of the coverage on her a bit disrespectful at times. Just any kind of infantilization of her, the kind of like, wow, doesn’t she sit well? And wow, she twirled her hair. It’s always very breathless and I think well, she’s a grown woman. She’s got a lot more to say and do and prove beyond that. But the comfort zone with the press seems to be how well she can flip a pancake.

Rumors of William & Kate’s marriage troubles: “I think partly, rumors take on a life of their own online, and so there will be a bigger hunger for things that aren’t even true about someone. I think William and Kate have largely been protected from that with the British tabloids who often do lean on these very lazy rumor spreading and whatnot. But with Kate and William, particularly with their great relationships with a lot of the important newspaper editors and publishers, they managed to be kept out of that. But of course, there is no control over things in the U.S., and we have seen them become fodder for a lot of the supermarket tabloids for stories about their marriage being in trouble and all the rest of it. I’m not here to comment on someone’s marriage. I can only go by what I have heard from people that are much closer to the situation that I’d imagined a source for InTouch magazine is. I’ve not heard anything about a marriage being in trouble. I’m always very careful with that stuff as well. Just as much as I will disregard that story, I’ll also disregard the stories of Harry and Meghan’s marriage being in trouble. I think it’s very lazy tabloid journalism at times because you can’t make money off people just being happy all the time. You need them to be in crisis for their lives to be more interesting, and I think sometimes two people can just be in a very safe and perhaps slightly dull marriage and that’s okay.”

[From Elle]

“But the comfort zone with the press seems to be how well she can flip a pancake.” First of all, she flipped the pancake poorly and that whole pancake photo-op was a huge flop!! I get what Scobie is saying and he’s absolutely right that the press prefers Kate’s superficiality in general. But let’s also be fair: Kate prefers the superficial as well. She’s spent 12 years in an institution and all she’s got to show for it is some nonsensical busywork, a drawer full of janky wigs and a button collection. Kate’s “comfort zone” is low-energy, no-drama, the-bar-is-in-hell stuff. As for the Wales marriage… I’m sure Scobie knows a lot more than what he’s saying, and perhaps in time he’ll get to talk about all of that. Also: that rejection of the Keen Peacemaker storyline!!

Photos courtesy of Instagram, Cover Images.

Prince William and Kate visited Boston last December and it was a trip to forget. Or rather, William and Kate were so forgettable. Omid Scobie’s Endgame includes a lot of information about the Boston trip within the larger story of “QEII died and the remaining Windsors can’t stop tripping over themselves for two seconds.” As I covered in real time, William was incandescent over the twin crises outside of his control during the Boston trip. The first crisis was the Susan Hussey mess back in England. But then Netflix dropped the first trailer for the Sussexes’ docuseries in the middle of the Keens’ Boston trip, and suddenly William was raging at the royal rota for days. Remember all of the “Sussexes are like the Kardashians” nonsense? Well, here are some (hilarious) highlights of how everything went down in Boston:

The Hussey debacle overshadowed their first days in Boston: “…By the time they landed in Boston, the furor over Lady Susan was at full volume, drowning out much of the hoopla for the event. The couple flew commercial to make a point, but it was lost on a public already outraged by yet another royal race incident. Both former U.S. secretary of state and current Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and the author, diplomat, and member of America’s “royal family” Caroline Kennedy, their chief guests, appeared to tap the brakes on joining the engagement—Kerry cited illness and Kennedy “disrupted travel plans” but in reality, it’s likely they both wanted to see how the scandal played out.

The Celtics game: On the second night, William and Kate attended a Celtics basketball game at TD Garden Arena, where, to their surprise, many fans booed and subjected the royal couple to chants of “USA! USA!” whenever they appeared on the jumbotron. In all fairness, Boston sports fans will boo just about anyone who shows up on their turf, but the latest scandal, along with all the other baggage William and Kate drag around as royals (including their treatment of Harry and Meghan, for one), only made the jeers louder. In fact, there appeared to be little excitement for the royal visit in general…

William’s Super Bowl moment: Despite the promotional efforts and high expectations, the [Earthshot] awards ceremony, by most accounts, didn’t make the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. There was, however, halftime show entertainment courtesy of another royal couple. The first trailer for the Sussexes’ intimate Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, released that same day (an intentional move by the streamer, I’m told), promising the “full truth” behind the couple’s departure.

The Earthshot Flop: As for the Earthshot ceremony, viewers were less than captivated, to say the least. In the United Kingdom, newspapers claimed the public “switched off” in droves within minutes of the BBC airing it, while the audience watching live in the United States via PBS’s streaming platform fell to the hundreds at times. Despite certain celebrity guests flying in to the “green” event at great expense and using thousands of gallons of jet fuel (Beckham flew on a private jet from Qatar), the environmental award winners themselves were strangely forced to stay at home and appear via Zoom. Rather than buying a new outfit, Kate made a statement by renting her off-the-shoulder gown (a genuinely good idea, but one that has never been repeated at a royal event since). The green carpet the couple walked down at the start of the evening was repurposed from the previous year’s ceremony, but the Palace refused to comment on the fact it was shipped halfway across the world to make the environmentally conscious statement. As for local media coverage, it focused mostly on the cost of the trip for the city ($170,407) and how it would affect traffic.

[From Omid Scobie’s Endgame]

I thank Scobie for his service here – too few people paid attention to the fact that William refused to invite the award-winners and instead persuaded celebrities to fly into Boston (on their private jets) all to hang out with him. I had never heard the detail about the green carpet either – did the palace honestly brief the media about how they used the same carpet, but then they didn’t want to talk about the cost of shipping it over??? Jesus. Anyway, yeah, the Boston trip was hilariously bad and hahahaha at Netflix deliberately timing the trailer drop for that week.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Cover Images.

It’s amazing to see, in retrospect, how much of Byline Times’ reporting was completely accurate. In October, Byline dropped their exclusive cover story on exactly what was going on behind-the-scenes in the first half of 2020, when Prince Harry and Meghan were exiting the UK and the monarchy. Byline reported that then-Prince Charles withdrew £700K in funding at some point, and it was all because Harry would not drop his pursuit against the Sun and against Christian Jones, who was Prince William’s press secretary at the time. Omid Scobie’s Endgame and Byline Times’s October story both laid out Jones’s relationship with Dan Wootton, and Jones was the one who leaked the entire Sussexit story to Wootton. Byline reported that, as Harry pursued legal action against the Sun in early 2020, the palace ordered him to stop because they didn’t want to see the entire rotten clownshow between the Windsors and the media exposed.

Byline gave another motive for the royals: they believed that by cutting the Sussexes loose financially, they would bring Harry and Meghan “to heel,” broke and humbled back in the UK. Byline spelled it out: the monarchy chose Christian Jones over Prince Harry. Omid Scobie spelled it out the same way, and he had even more details on how it went down, including an interesting timeline.

Harry was ready to pursue action against the Sun in early 2020:The Duke of Sussex wasn’t relying on his brother’s cooperation anymore because, by this point, he had all the evidence he needed: relevant documents, intel from Scotland Yard, and information from other journalists (including sources at the paper itself) who had passed details along to his team. Armed with a dossier, Harry went to the very top of the institution with a formal complaint and a suggestion that they take appropriate action against The Sun. The response Harry received, however, was far from what he expected.

The Lord Chamberlain overstepped: There, on Buckingham Palace–headed paper, was a reply from the Lord Chamberlain at the time, Earl William Peel, who had a particularly close relationship with Charles. The letter, a source said, included “some of the most strong” language seen on official household stationery, aimed at Harry, not Jones. “It was a threat,” said a source close to the situation, who added that the Queen wasn’t consulted before the Palace issued it. “[The Lord Chamberlain] said either drop the charges or face severe consequences in twenty-four hours.” A message from a lawyer for Jones, arranged by the Palace, soon followed. The decree: stand down from legal action against Prince William’s aide.

The palace in ass-covering mode: An exasperated Harry pointed out to Palace aides that he was not suing the aide or anyone on this matter—he simply had a desire for the situation, a public official with deep connections to private information about a senior royal being shared with a national newspaper, to be properly dealt with. For the duke, enough was enough. The Sun had a long and controversial history of inappopriate relationships with public officials, and the Palace, at one point, was also keen to put an end to these practices. “The Palace basically accused Harry of wanting to sue his brother’s [private secretary] and causing great distress to Christian,” the source continued. When they asked him to provide more evidence, Harry refused. “At this point he already had plenty and, given how defensive they were being of Christian, it was clearly going to be used to help him and not Harry.”

When the Sussexes were cut off: Within weeks, it was clear to all involved that the Lord Chamberlain’s threat of “severe consequences” was no bluff. Harry received two further letters in July 2020, one from Charles’s private secretary Clive Alderton and the other from the Queen’s, Edward Young, both stating the same thing: he was to be officially and immediately cut off from all financial support, including official security, which Charles had been privately covering with his Duchy of Cornwall income.

The palace sanctioned everything Christian Jones did: “I have never seen the Palace circle the wagons like they did with Christian,” a source later reflected. “In my experience, anyone who puts a risk to the survival of the monarchy is out.” It seems, however, that the actions of Christian Jones, who continued to work for Prince William until April 2021, were seen as a help, not a hindrance. As it turns out, William knew about Jones’s friendship with Dan Wootton since day one. Multiple sources confirm that during an early 2018 interview with Simon Case for his job at the Kensington Palace press office, Jones, in the interest of transparency, shared that he has a “working relationship” with Wootton.

[From Omid Scobie’s Endgame]

While I’ll never wrap my head around how the British media operates and how the British legal system is built to protect the media, it’s just sort of mind-blowing to think about how Harry really tried to operate in good faith throughout this entire ordeal. Even as late as January 2020, he still seemingly believed in William and believed that William could be reasoned with, or that William would take his side once he saw all of the evidence. Harry also seemingly believed that the institution would share his outrage that William and Christian Jones were both so compromised by Wootton, to the point where the Kensington Palace clownshow bungled every part of a sensitive royal story. Instead, the institution went into ass-covering mode and Charles withdrew funding and security, all because Harry could have exposed the whole rotten system.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

As we covered previously, Omid Scobie’s Endgame had a pretty good rundown of how the Prince William-Rose Hanbury story played out from a media perspective. As in, Dan Wootton (then the Sun’s entertainment editor) broke the “rural rival” story, then Wootton also broke the story about William and Rose’s “private dinners,” a story which was quickly edited and eventually erased completely. Throughout the months the Sun was hotly pursuing the story, William’s press secretary Christian Jones was freaking out about Wootton’s exclusives… until Jones suddenly wasn’t freaked out at all. The spring/summer of 2019, the Sun suddenly buried the Rose story and had a rash of negative Sussex stories. A deal had been made, and Christian Jones threw the Sussexes to the wolves, all to protect William. William knew exactly what was being done too. Thus began the blatant transactional deal between Kensington Palace and Dan Wootton, which led to Wootton breaking the “Sussexit” story in January 2020.

Christian Jones was desperate to stop the Rose rumors: When rumors about Prince William and gossip about Kate’s “fallout” with Rose Hanbury flooded social media feeds and American tabloid magazines in 2019, Kensington Palace press secretary Christian Jones…pulled out all the stops to get The Sun—the first outlet to allude to the gossip—to stop poking around in the detritus of the rumor and back off. Crises such as these require more than just strategic briefing, which drops us right into the third media relationship: tactics that teeter on the edge of ethical boundaries, and in some cases run right past them.

Jones tried to rope Omid Scobie into the dealmaking: “Christian was desperate to stop [the rumor] and made it his mission to do so,” a former courtier told me. Jones even tried to include me in his attempts. While the tabloid continued to dig around on the story, even sending a reporter to canvass Hanbury’s home in Norfolk, Jones—who had already admitted to me that the paper’s persistence was stressing him out—suggested that I connect with the journalist behind the initial reports—The Sun’s “showbiz” editor Dan Wootton. Christian clearly wanted to give Wootton something in exchange for standing down on the rumors. If he promised Wootton scoops from elsewhere, maybe The Sun would do him a solid. As for my supposed gain from this, Jones claimed, it would be a “great move” to help promote Finding Freedom before it was launched in August. “He would be helpful,” Jones wrote in a late-night text. “I reckon a story [from your book] to Dan that goes in The Sun, and then he goes on [morning TV show] Lorraine [to talk about it].”

Scobie was already aware of Jones’s relationship with Wootton: At this point I was already aware and dubious of the triad relationship between Jones, Callum Stephens (his partner and PR executive), and Wootton. I had zero interest in collaborating with the tabloid and Wootton, let alone with a notorious hack best known for bullying and hounding celebrities, including the late Love Island UK host Caroline Flack (who Prince Harry was romantically linked to in 2009), as well as a long list of worrying allegations, including blackmail, coercion and other repulsive acts…

The shift in coverage at The Sun: It was soon clear my book was not the only carrot Jones would dangle in front of his pal at The Sun. In late June the paper suddenly pulled reporters off the hunt and then dropped digs into the story entirely. “Christian helped make it end,” one high-level courtier told me. Curiously, Wootton and the paper—which does not have a reputation for giving up on potential scoops—shifted their focus to a series of revealing stories about the Sussexes. For Prince Harry and some other Palace staff, including one who was confiding in me at the time, the timing of this shift was dubious.

Jones blatantly leaked the Sussexit story to Wootton: For this book, several separate sources—including two Sun staffers—confirmed that Jones helped provide details to The Sun about the Sussexes’ move to Canada and their decision to step back from royal life. “Leaks got really obvious toward the end,” a senior ranking courtier confided to me. When Harry and Meghan’s head of communications Sara Latham sat down with Jones and Prince Charles’s press secretary Julian Payne in January 2020 to prepare a joint statement from Buckingham Palace confirming the couple’s official departure, details about it leaked to the newspaper while they were still working on the draft. “They hadn’t even spoken to anyone at that point and Dan [Wootton] was already calling her to ask for comment about details in the statement . . . It felt like Christian had literally been texting him under the table.”

[From Omid Scobie’s Endgame]

That last quote made me shudder – “It felt like Christian had literally been texting him under the table.” The way Charles and William have always operated, it’s like Harry never had anywhere safe. This was arguably one of the most tense, heated and delicate situations the Windsors had faced in several decades, and instead of doing a close-hold lockdown on information, the then-second in line to the throne had surrounded himself with the sleaziest opportunists out there and everything turned into a clownshow. Jones utterly f–ked it up, and even worse, Jones never really had to face any accountability for it.

Scobie also pieces together this Christian Jones information with Prince Harry’s story in Spare, where he and William went off and had a big talk after the Sandringham Summit, and Harry told William about his concerns about a member of William’s staff selling information about the Sussexes to the tabloids. Harry claimed that William was receptive to what Harry said and William said “Yeah, we’ve also got our suspicions.” Three months after that conversation, William promoted Christian Jones from press secretary to personal private secretary.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty, Cover Images.

From Rosie: CB mentioned the Black Friday sale on Neutrogena hydroboost hydrating serum, which is still on sale now. I’ve always preferred creams and wanted to recommend their under-eye moisturizer with hyaluronic acid. It’s also fragrance free. Right now, it’s on sale for $10 off. People love how it feels around their eyes and affirm that it’s great for sensitive skin, too. “It feels so silky & makes the skin around my eyes hydrated & super soft all day long!” “I really like how this feels around my eyes. No breakouts with it. Nice fragrance. Good product for the money. It lasts a long time.” “I love using it morning and night to give my under eyes some extra moisture. I have sensitive skin but never had issues with this.”

50% off Amazon’s 5th Generation Echo Dot

From Rosie: A few years ago, I worked for a company that was run by a board of directors. One year, our outgoing president gave each staff member an Echo Dot that she’d bought from a Black Friday sale. I loved that gift and still use it. It’s handy to ask the day’s weather, set timers, and to shut off devices with smart plugs. Right now, Amazon is still running sales on their Alexa products, including this 5th generation Echo Dot. This model comes in three different colors. There’s also a version with a clock and two different kids’ versions. It has a 4.7 star rating and more than 37,000 reviews on ReviewMeta. Users love how convenient and versatile their Echo is. “The sound quality is so much better than the third-generation Dot. Now, I don’t find myself connecting via Bluetooth to my sound bar nearly as much because the speaker quality is just that good.” “[My parents] have a blast asking Alexa about the weather, and my mom has discovered a new partner in crime for her crossword puzzles. Alexa always comes through with those tricky words!” “One of the things I love most about the Echo Dot is how versatile it is. I use it for everything from playing music to controlling my smart home to setting alarms. It’s also great for answering my questions and providing me with information.”

A temperature-controlled Keurig on sale for $70 off (and reusable K-cups)

From Rosie: This Keurig is small but mighty. It brews in five different sizes and has settings to make both hot and iced coffee. There’s also an option for just hot water. Right now, it’s $70 off as a part of Amazon’s holiday sales. There are three different colors, too: slate, gold, and silver. I stopped buying the actual K cups several years ago and now use these reusable cups instead. I’ve had no issues with them! This coffee maker has a 4.7 star rating, more than 54,000 reviews, and a B on Fakespot. Users love the quality of coffee it makes. “My favorite feature is the ‘strong’ button! It brews a nice strong cup that tastes delicious. Another great feature is the temperature control.” “I chose this one for the large water tank. I can make several cups without adding more water. Makes a terrific tumbler of ice coffee.”

An affordable 3-in-1 vacuum that’s good on carpet and hard floors

From Rosie: This lightweight, corded vacuum can be used as a standing vacuum or as a handheld one with two different nozzles. The product description says that it’s great for hard floors, carpet, ceramic tile, laminate, and hardwoods. It comes in blue or black and is an affordable $34. It has a 4.2 star rating, almost 99,000 reviews, and a B on Fakespot. In reviews, people say it’s great for easy cleanups. “Small, lightweight, very easy to maneuver. Has strong suction ability, working great on both rugs and hardwood floors. It would be perfect as a second machine for quick cleanups, for furniture, or under items.” “I just got this little guy delivered today, very lightweight. Used on Hardwood laminate flooring, flat mat, and thin carpet. I would say this is great for light vacuuming, better than sweeping.”

A cozy Hanes sweatshirt under $8 you’ll want in several colors

From CB: This Hanes women’s long sleeve crewneck is currently on sale for 58% off making it under $8! You can also get the men’s version for a little more. At that price you’ll want it in several colors. It comes in 8 different colors and in sizes small to xx-large. This listing has over 60,700 ratings, 4.3 stars and the same score on ReviewMeta. People say it’s comfortable, long lasting and true to size. “This is a great, everyday, warm, comfortable, well-made sweatshirt. The turquoise color is pretty. I purposely got a size bigger than what I normally wear so it would be extra baggy and it’s perfectly oversized so I’d say the sizes are true to size. “ “I have bought four of these sweatshirts. They fit me perfectly. They hit a tad below hip level, are soft and comfortable, wash well, and I like the variety of colors available. Also, these are not tight but not baggy either…just right!”

40% off hyaluronic acid serum from Burt’s Bees

From CB: This hyaluronic acid serum from trusted brand Burt’s Bees is on sale for just over $13. It’s formulated with clean ingredients and naturally derived hyaluronic acid and algae for clearer, softer skin. This listing has 530 ratings and 4.3 stars on ReviewMeta. Reviewers say it brightens and moisturizes without bothering sensitive skin. “Love this serum! Have used it a little over a month and see my skin tone becoming more even.” “I have used this twice a day and it is literally getting rid of my eyebags! I’ve had so many people tell me that i look good and well rested lately. The dark circles under my eyes have almost vanished.”

A $150 dupe for the Dyson AirWrap

From CB: I have a Dyson AirWrap and if that’s not a painful splurge for you at a whopping $500 I highly recommend it. I got one in 2019 and it’s still going strong. I love it, it’s so quick and easy and I look like I just stepped out of the salon. (I had to look up tutorials on YouTube to get the hang of it.) This AirWrap dupe by webeauty is under $150 after you click the box to apply the $30 coupon. It has 203 ratings, 4.2 stars and the same score on ReviewMeta. People say it’s quiet, easy to use and makes their hair look great. “This combo set works great. It heated up quickly and dried my hair in no time. I LOVE all the attachments that came with it. I used the blow dryer and then before it was fully dry, used the big round brush. This device gave my hair so much volume. It is lightweight and heats quickly!” “It’s amazing!!! I’ve never personally used a Dyson (my stylist has one so I know how it’s supposed to work) but I can’t imagine that it’s several hundred dollars better. I’ve tried all the attachments and feel they are as described. Power is great and my hair (chin length blunt bob with longer curtain bangs) dried more quickly than with my normal dryer + round brush or my hairbrush dryer.”

A vegan lip butter with just the right amount of tint

We’ve featured these awesome lip balms by Melixir before. I have the Dewy Rose color and I love how hydrating it is and how it adds just enough color to look polished. These would make great gifts and stocking stuffers. This listing has 4.4 stars, over 8,700 ratings and a B on Fakespot. People say it leaves their lips feeling soft and that they’ve bought it in several colors. “I’ve bought this lip butter in almost all the colors, and each one was very beautiful and natural looking! I didn’t expect it to be super moisturizing thinking it was just a lip tint but the moment I used it my lips were very moisturized and I could see the difference basically overnight or even in a few hours.” “I like the shade, the texture, and the lack of fragrance.”

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