For someone who claims he's not friends with the Sussexes, Omid Scobie certainly does a good job of making the opposite seem true.
Over the last seven years, the baby-faced former tabloid and K-pop reporter claims he's shared hugs and personal phone calls with the Duchess and was even chosen to attend her intimate final engagement as a working royal back in 2020. How does he know so much about Harry and Meghan ("Megs"), then, if he's not their friend, critics have asked. And why would he lay into every member of the royal family except for them in his latest book?
Scobie, 42, has been nicknamed "Meghan's mouthpiece" and the Sussexes' "cheerleader-in-chief" over the years since his bestselling biography of the couple, Finding Freedom, was published in 2020. Tomorrow sees the release of his second bombshell book about the royals, Endgame, and critics say it's just as explosive as his first — if not more so.
Among the claims revealed ahead of its publication are that King Charles insists staff iron his shoelaces, that "hot-headed" Prince William kept Scobie away from royal engagements for months after believing he was Prince Harry's "emissary", and that Meghan called Scobie personally to check on his welfare after she was told he had been harassed on social media. Friends then, surely? Not so, says an insistent Scobie.
"I'm not Meg's pal," he wrote on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, this week. "I am not their friend and never have been," he repeated in interviews, insisting it was through "mutual friends" with the couple that he gets his inside scoops.
The Oxford-raised Harper's Bazaar reporter — whose parents are Scottish and Persian — also credits lip-reading and befriending royal staffers with his knack for attaining juicy details about the royals — skills he learnt in his stint as a jobbing celebrity reporter for Heat and Us Weekly magazines.
But critics have been quick to point to times he's been accused of lying in the past, such as reportedly telling an interviewer he was six years younger than his actual age in 2020 and denying he'd ever taken a private jet this week before correcting himself when the interviewer pointed out a picture of him on one. "Anything else you'd like to confess, Omid?" royal broadcaster Richard Eden asked on X ahead of Endgame's publication tomorrow.
"It's not an End Game for our precious Royal family... It's an end game for Omid Scobie and his paymasters Meghan and Harry," others have said of the upcoming book and its author.
So what do we know about Scobie, the author at the centre of this week's royal drama and a man few of us had heard of three years ago? How did he manage to find his way into the Sussexes' inner circle? And how exactly does he get his scoops, then, if not from the royals themselves?
An Oxford gamer boy who went on to party with Jodie Marsh
The Hollywood Hills are certainly a long way from Oxford, where Wales-born Scobie and his younger brother grew up. Their Scottish father, Bill, ran a marketing agency and their Persian mother, Maryam, worked in child welfare. Scobie has since spoken of how his mother's side of the family are "Persian, and slightly aristocratic" and how he prefers to use the term "Persian" rather than Iranian because "my mum’s side of the family is not Muslim and has no connection to the Islamic Republic of Iran".
He attended the prestigious fee-paying Magdalen College School in Oxford, whose alumni include Skyfall director Sam Mendes, before sixth-form at Cherwell, a local state school.
Scobie's dream was to become a journalist ever since he started writing video game blogs as a teen. After school, he went on to study for a degree in journalism at the London College of Communication before bagging his first job working as a celebrity news reporter for Heat magazine, where his brief included attending red carpet events and partying at nightclubs alongside the likes of Katie Price's glamour model rival Jodie Marsh. He has since called it a "toxic workplace" and reportedly left after a boss called him a "p***" in emails.
His departure from the magazine might have been somewhat tainted, but it was to be the making of a glittering celebrity career. After a year of freelancing, Scobie went on to become the European bureau chief at Us Weekly, an American entertainment magazine and the second most-read weekly in the States, setting up its London outpost and staying there for almost a decade.
It was during that stint for Us Weekly that Scobie set up a K-Pop (South Korean pop) entertainment news website called IdolWow!. He ran the site for three years from 2012 to 2015, but it was his other specialism around that time — royal reporting — that was to become his real USP.
He claims he had "no personal interest in the royals at all whatsoever" until he began working as a royal reporter for Us Weekly in 2011, back when the now Prince and Princess of Wales had just got engaged and Harry was reported to be dating the singer Ellie Goulding.
All of that changed five years into the gig, in 2016, when a Suits actress called Meghan Markle started dating Prince Harry.
From celebrity and K-pop reporter to world-famous royal scoop-getter
“I was going to work my damn hardest to make sure I was close to every single person in their lives, and become someone that, at the very least, people at the palace feel they can come to when they need to correct a story," Scobie has recalled of his early obsession with what he quickly came to realise was the hottest royal story of a generation: Prince Harry's relationship with Meghan Markle, an actress in US legal drama Suits at the time.
As a mixed-race royal reporter, Scobie — who currently works as royal editor-at-large at Harper's Bazaar and a royal contributor at ABC News and Good Morning America - says he was drawn towards the Meghan story. He first met the actress in 2015 at Toronto Fashion Week and quickly developed a close relationship with the now-Duchess once she started dating Harry, with her personally phoning him in 2018 after learning that he had been sent threats on social media, according to his new book Endgame.
He has since referred to several hugs he and the Duchess have shared, including the day she finally flew out of England after her last solo appearance as a working royal in 2020. "Tears that the Duchess had been bravely holding back" were "free to flow", he later wrote of giving her a "goodbye hug" at Buckingham Palace.
So what was his secret to getting such bombshell royal scoops? An eye for detail and a "natural knack for lip-reading", according to Scobie himself, who credits his time at Us Weekly for honing his lip-reading skills and teaching him to ask staff for inside information.
"When we covered Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding, all those details, do you think that came from Kim and Kanye?" he has said, looking back. "No, it came from the people working there."
Not all the skills Scobie picked up during that red carpet era are ones he's necessarily proud of, however. When he appeared as a witness for Prince Harry's phone-hacking claim against the publisher of the Daily Mirror in May this year, Scobie claimed he was taught how to gather information illegally while on work experience at the Sunday People — including how to hack voicemails.
Speaking from the witness box, he said in his witness statement he was given "a list of mobile numbers followed by a detailed verbal description of how to listen to voicemails, as if it were a routine newsgathering technique", adding that he was "taken aback by what seemed completely immoral and I never carried out the task". Mirror Group Newspapers disputed much of the evidence in the trial and argued that Harry and the other claimants waited too long to bring their cases, the verdict of which is yet to be delivered.
Finding fame as 'Meghan's mouthpiece'
If there's one thing your average member of the public knows Scobie's name for, it's Finding Freedom, the bestselling 2020 biography he co-authored with American journalist Carolyn Durand and went on to find worldwide fame.
How much money Scobie made in profits from the book is not known, but it sold 31,000 copies in its first five days of publication and no doubt helped to fund the lavish-seeming lifestyle he now boasts on Instagram — quite the step-change from his humble Oxford upbringing. Among the claims made by Scobie and Durand in the book are that Harry and Meghan's first date took place at Dean Street Townhouse in Soho, that Harry had a secret Instagram account when he was wooing Meghan, and Prince William raised concerns about Harry rushing his relationship with Meghan.
Claims like these naturally led to questions about Scobie's relationship with Harry and Meghan — or 'Meg', as Scobie says "her close friends and husband call her". He was one of just three journalists invited to Meghan's final solo appearance as a working royal in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace and reportedly shared a "big farewell hug" with her beneath the "malachite candelabras". "I think she wanted to share that last moment because it is a moment in history. But also to do it in an environment she felt safe in," he later told Tatler.
But Scobie has consistently denied any kind of friendship with the couple. He says he does share "mutual friends" with the Duchess — something he says "helps with getting information and breaking details" about the royals - but insists he is not Meghan or Harry's "friend" himself and has certainly never been paid a salary by the couple. "I am not their friend and never have been," he told an interviewer this week. "I didn't interview her for this book," he told another.
Endgame also details how he received a notable amount of backlash after his first book, Finding Freedom. “I found that my relationships, my contacts, everything was put to the test,” he says.
“William even kept me away from his engagements for several months, thinking I was Harry’s emissary… there have been times when I haven’t been able to work properly because of the repercussions of this book.”
Botox, bulldogs and lies about his age
32. That's the age Scobie claimed he was back in 2020, during an interview with The Times. He was later discovered to be 38 — six years older than that. "It was unfortunate and naïve of me," he has said, on reflection. "You live and learn".
So how does he look so much younger than 42, exactly? The youthful looks could certainly be something to do with the Botox, which Scobie admits he tried "many years ago", or the Ultherapy, a nonsurgical skin-tightening procedure he still enjoys today. "I've not been under the knife, not done anything crazy," he insists. "People are obsessed with [whether I've had work done]."
Little else is known about Scobie's personal life, but he recently told an interviewer he is "hopelessly single", has a pet French bulldog called Yoshi (named after the Super Mario character) and does regular personal training sessions. He was living in a "not groovy" part of east London as recently as 2021, and he reportedly rents a home in the Hollywood Hills today — not sleeping on the Sussexes' sofa in Montecito, as critics have joked. His Instagram account has amassed more than 38,000 followers despite only 11 grid posts, which offer a small if not carefully curated window into life behind-the-scenes as one of the world's most famous royal authors: posing with Yoshi for a Tatler interview in 2020; recording his audiobook in a studio; speaking on stage at the Web Summit in Lisbon — most of which have seen him dressed in designer clothing and expensive accessories from the likes of Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Not all of his grid posts are strictly professional. A "Cali pick n mix" post shared in June shows him posing on a balcony by the sea, dining at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills and visiting Nobu in Malibu, while his latest "life" post shows him on a walk with Yoshi, dining at fancy restaurants and posing with a peace sign on a swing in a sun-lit field. He is said to have a soft spot for designer clothing and accessories, which includes Chanel skis when skiing in Chamonix, France. The Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the French Riviera is among the five-star hotels he's shared pictures from over recent years.
But Scobie has a more down-to-earth side, too. In his 2020 Tatler interview, he spoke about his love of hiking with friends in the Brecon Beacons and dropping in on his parents, who still live in Oxfordshire. He stayed with them in a bid to lay low after his first book was released, but has since spoken of how he's had to call the police over racist comments and threats to burn his house down, and how his parents had to be offered security after receiving "a couple of unwanted visitors" to their home. He is supposedly "still in touch" with many friends from his Cherwell days and says he's had regular offers to appear on reality TV shows, but always turns them down. “I’d become the joke that I think some people already want me to be, or see me as."
According to those who've met him, Scobie is a reserved, soft-spoken character, and very charming — all qualities that made him the perfect candidate on celebrities' doorsteps as a young reporter. Insiders say they're not surprised he went on to become a bestselling, household-name author. "People talk about him as though he came from nothing," one says. "But he was quite a notorious Tabloid journalist back in the day."
Life in Scobieland — as glamorous as it seems?
Age, it appears, isn't the only fact about himself Scobie might have bent the truth about over the years. Asked in a recent interview whether he ever travelled in private jets like the Sussexes, he initially said no.
"Here’s the thing with private jets. I mean I obviously don’t fly on them myself," he said at the time, before the interviewer pointed out a recent Instagram photo of what very much looked like Scobie on a private jet. “OK, that was a private jet, but that was only going from LA to Palm Springs. It was very short," he later added. When said interviewer checked Instagram afterwards, the picture had disappeared.
So is life in Scobieland as glamorous as it seems on social media? It depends on who you ask. Scobie's Tatler interview and bejewelled Instagram look with glimmering-white teeth certainly paints a picture of a man who likes the finer things in life, but reports in June found that he faced losing his company earlier this year after falling foul of the authorities at Companies House.
According to reports, both the accounts and annual return for Scobie's publishing company, Meyou Ltd, were late as of June 29 this year, with Scobie issued with a warning that his company would be "struck off the register" unless adequate evidence is provided to show it is actively operating - far from the first time this has happened. In fact, for three years running, the company (of which Scobie is the sole director) has not filed its annual returns on time, and on each occasion, it is only done so under threat of being dissolved.
Scobie's representatives did not respond to requests for comment at the time and as of today, November 27, the company is still active on the Companies House website.
Since then, conversation has moved on to Scobie's new book, Endgame, expected to top the global bestseller charts if his last book is anything to go by. "Hardly a surprise that the twisting of facts and misquoting going on right now has reached new levels of desperation," he wrote on X this week, attacking critics.
"Looking forward to people being able to read the book for themselves on Tuesday — and hearing my actual voice set some nonsense straight in interviews this week."
Those interviews are likely to stick to the book and its claims, rather than his own life, if Scobie's previous media rounds are anything to go by. But for a man who claims he likes to steer clear of the limelight, he certainly continues to spend a lot of time under it.