‘The Palace Papers‘ Podcast – A review of Tina Brown’s latest book

ToDiForDaily.com‘s Kinsey Schofield discusses Tina Brown‘s new release, The Palace Papers INSIDE THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR – THE TRUTH AND THE TURMOIL. How hard was it to dig into Meghan Markle’s past? How bright is Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s future? The author does not hold back when it comes to mistakes made and unrealistic expectations. Are Prince William and Kate Middleton as squeaky clean as they seem? Brown has an opinion on that too! Plus, where do William and Harry stand today? Just weeks before the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee? This is not the regular format but wanted to jump on and say Hi to our growing audience of royal watchers!


Kinsey Schofield: Hi all! I know it’s been a minute and I am so appreciative of the kind feedback I’ve received over the podcast! Wow, I mean, we have been mentioned… since we launched a few months ago… in Cosmopolitan Magazine, Marie Claire, InStyle, and The Daily Mail! I am just so so so grateful and excited that you like the show! Thank you so much for listening!

To give you a quick update on my life and all things To Di For DailySCANDALOUS: Diana – Killing of a Princess is now available to stream on FOX NATION. It is a three-part docuseries on the life and death of Princess Diana. They really get into the chaos surrounding her death at the time – and the series features ME! – Kinsey Schofield, Andrew Morton – who you know I love, Ingrid Seward, Arthur Edwards, Ken Wharfe, and Richard Kay – to name a few. Here’s a preview…

Richard Kay: Everything stopped around the time of the royal wedding and the whole country came together. That was the power of royalty… but it was also the power of this woman… not yet 21 years old – Lady Diana Spencer… now the Princess of Wales. What she was able to bring… and the royal family knew that they had an absolute diamond in their midst – as did the country.

Kinsey Schofield in doc: And it almost gave it a clean slate because for a second everybody’s heart was in the same place and love was the focus. And everybody… just kind of… now all of the sudden… they’re rooting for Prince Charles and Princess Diana and what’s next.

KS: Again, Diana – Killing of a Princess is now available to stream on FOX NATION. It’s about 3 hours long and I really enjoyed the experience. This is probably an overshare but what initially connected me to Diana was her sense of loneliness. It was something that I could relate to and I used to watch documentaries on her – alone in my studio apartment in Los Angeles – aching for her because I felt so connected to her in this way… so to have the opportunity to help tell her story was really special for me.

Another quick update: R is for Revenge Dress, which is my upcoming Princess Diana book published by Post Hill Press and distributed by Simon & Schuster, is available for pre-order on Amazon now. It will hit your local bookstores on November 15th and I’m so excited for Santa Claus to bring you a copy! Just search Amazon for R is for Revenge Dress.

Last but not least! I land in London June 1st for the Platinum Jubilee! Tell me your favorite fish & chips spots, the most Instagramable hotel lobbies, and who to place my bets on Derby Day! Hopefully, I come back with some super good royal tea for you!

Ok! To the good stuff…

Tina Brown: “For over two years, I’ve talked with more than 120 people, many intimately involved with senior royals since Diana died. The Palace Papers will change the way you see The House of Windsor, their falls from grace, their resurrection, their survival. Above all, you’ll get a closer understanding of the woman who matters more than anyone else: Her Majesty the Queen.”

KS: Full disclosure: I tried to get Tina Brown on the podcast and was ghosted! (WHO YOU GONNA CALL?) I like to visualize her in a regency-themed room with Robert Lacey ignoring my calls. It’s ok. I’m not bitter.

It took me a while to finish her new book, The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor–the Truth and the Turmoil. I ordered it on Audible and it was 18 glorious hours of castle cattiness. It very well could have been titled, “The Mountbatten-Windsor Encyclopedia of Scandals.” Almost instantly, Tina draws this line between royalty and celebrity giving us an idea of the trouble to come for the Sussexes. As she told PBS, “They seem to be unable to understand that the real problem that couldn’t be overcome was their desire to both keep all their royal privileges, patronages, etc. While also having this whole commercial arm where they were able to make them money. It just wasn’t going to work because ultimately whatever they were doing commercially… they were leveraging their HRH titles and it just could not work and so a choice had to be made and faced with the choice of commonwealth or Netflix – they chose Netflix.”

Now, I’m paraphrasing but Brown says that royalty is eternal while celebrity is fleeting and requires a constant and very likely – exhausting hustle. But most important… celebrity-requires-success.

I enjoyed the book. I could have done without everything Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein related. I’m much more interested in Fergie… but unfortunately, she has become nothing more than a toe-sucking scandal in the footnote of royal history. Ultimately… that has got to be infuriating if you’re in her shoes but obviously she wasn’t wearing them when they were in that guy’s mouth so…

Suggested Audible hack: I sped up the audio by one because it felt slow. The content is juicy though!

If I’m being honest with you, the best stuff is in the back. I primarily enjoyed her chapters on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. She says in one interview that, that was the toughest dirt to get! Everything else kind of felt regurgitated. And are we still calling Camilla a horse face?! I mean, this is a Princess Diana podcast but yikes!

Brown is very blunt about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s inconsistencies which is something that I did not anticipate and she… dare I say, BRAVELY, went head to head with Sussex secret share-er Gayle King on CBS This Morning a few weeks ago… “You know she memorably told Oprah, ‘I didn’t do any research!’ And my question was: In her working life… all the people I spoke to in her acting life… you know, when she was a tv star… they all said she was so good at preparation. She was someone that always asked for director’s notes, boned up for the night before, who was highly organized about her material. It’s very odd to me that for the biggest role of her life… namely becoming a member of the royal family and a royal duchess… that she says she did no research. I think had she done so… she might have had a few… question marks about what this life was going to be. I really don’t think she understood what it was like to be married to in fact the 6th in line to the throne.”

King’s rebuttal, in case you’re curious, was to quote Meghan’s ITV interview… “I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair.” Back to the number 6 –

This is something new that I learned about Meghan and I am absolutely fascinated by this comparison… Tina has a chapter entitled “Number Six on the Call Sheet: Meghan Markle’s World” where she explains Meghan’s ambition and organized strategy to climb her way to the top. Not only to the top of her call sheet… but to the top of celebrity. The number six seems to haunt Meghan as it allegedly bothered her to be 6 on the Suits call sheet… the schedule… and then bothered her that her husband was number 6 in line for the throne… She saw the perks that people at the top got and she wanted them too!

I think we all came to the conclusion that Harry and Meghan did not appreciate being treated differently or not being a priority to the men in gray suits and the palace but Tina’s backstory about Meghan and the call sheet gives us a better understanding of Meghan’s mindset. When Meghan wanted something, she schemed for it. She wanted a driver in Toronto, she got it. She found out who she needed to butter up and she did it. These same techniques didn’t work in The Firm because there is a system in place that is set in steel. Meghan thought that they could force the palace’s hand and the palace called their bluff.

In an interview with Time Magazine, Tina discussed Meghan’s discomfort with having to rely on Prince Harry for finances… saying, “I think that’s what Meghan disliked most about being married to Harry. This is a person who earned a living aged 21 and now she’s totally dependent upon a man who really is completely dependent on his family.” So again, we get that sense that she is a fixer and took it upon herself to change their circumstances… but wait, I’m not blaming Meghan for everything and Tina goes more into that in a second… hold on!

She tells the Washington Post that Prince Harry probably wasn’t upfront about their financial situation… “In fairness, I’m sure that Harry minimized the financial predicament that they were going to find themselves in. It’s unlikely that a man is going to say to her, ‘Look, hey, you’re not going to have half the things you think you’re going to get as a sort of fairy story Princess.’” I can not relate to this because my fiancé tells me pretty regularly that I have very unrealistic expectations when it comes to my lifestyle.

The author is savage in her evaluation of the Sussexes status post Megxit, telling the Washington Post, “They completely underestimated what is was going to be like without the palace platform. However much they hated… and I really think that did at that point… the constraints… and the sort of pettiness… especially that they conceived of the palace and the advisors… try doing it without the palace and the advisors, right? Because, what the palace does, of course, it’s amazing convening power. There’s no one that won’t take a phone call if they say, ‘Buckingham Palace on the phone!’ ‘Kensington Palace on the phone!’ So they’re a huge convening power. Every major invitation in the world comes through that conduit. And the private secretaries could just sift and say, ‘What about you appear at this?’ or ‘Why don’t you do this appearance…?’ All of that is now gone and essentially they have to just hire PRs to do that for him and their judgment is not necessarily the best judgment that they should be listening to because of course… they’re trying to leverage… whatever they say… the royal brand… and there’s no PR that really knows how to do that better than Buckingham or Kensington Palace, right? So they’re suddenly without this leverage.”

This was an excellent point! It does seem like the rare appearances made by the Sussexes are projects that their PR firm are directly related to or invested in. Like the NAACP awards. Why were they not at The White House Correspondents Dinner? Why are they not at The Met Gala? I think we know the real answer to that but to reiterate what Ms. Brown said… “their judgment is not necessarily the best judgment.” OR… playing devil’s advocate here… maybe Harry and Meghan are just insanely stubborn and not taking the direction that they’ve been given. I think both options are highly likely.

Tina gets a sense that Meghan is struggling behind the scenes to define herself… telling Washington Post… “Meghan doesn’t really have a brand… is the truth. You feel that she is sort of grasping, somewhat, at whatever the Twitter caring of the moment. It’s vaccinations. It’s Ukraine. It’s women’s rights. It’s ‘Hey, my 40th birthday! Let’s have a mentoring scheme.’ Nothing is really going anywhere for Meghan. Then there’s the question of the whole entertainment deals that they did. I think that more savvy advisors… if they had thought about it… would tell them that the whole problem with entertainment deals is that you have to deliver hits.”

I posted about this on ToDiForDaily.com recently but… I really would like to see Meghan bring The Tig back because she obviously excelled at that. I think it allows her the freedom to share with the importance of controlling how much. Archie’s favorite art project or Lili’s favorite snack. These are the little tidbits that would keep the press and her fans happy without revealing too much of herself. She loves cooking, she loves entertaining… she could easily turn these passions into entertaining programming… BUT was her core audience and fan base going to watch a cartoon? Probably not.

While most royal commentators like to highlight Meghan’s similarities to Princess Diana… Tina explored their biggest difference with talk show host Lorraine… “She saw the palaces, she saw Diana as this huge global humanitarian superstar but maybe actually forgot that for 16/17 years Diana worked like a dog inside the royal family. Doing a great deal of very humdrum assignments, essentially. It was her incredible charisma she brought to that job that made her so extraordinarily special. And actually, Diana was always a change agent from within. She didn’t leave the royal family because she said, ‘I’m out!’ She got divorced. Her husband wasn’t in love with her. That was the major problem for Diana. That was the agony for her. She made the greatest thing she could out of it. She took that suffering and she turned it into her remarkable work that she did. Which was really real and important.”

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Sound: I said what I said sound.

Brown praises Prince Harry for Invictus Games and encourages him to continue to pursue success in that arena… but she does admit that his behavior has disrupted The House of Windsor… telling Sky News… “Diana’s destabilization was because she became bigger, almost, than the institution which was something that it had never encountered before…” “…Harry I think was the real kind of unsettling surprise. In a way, Harry has sort of continued his mother’s legacy, essentially, of throwing hand grenades. I think that’s what they found so destabilizing about Harry. They don’t know quite when another one of the guns is going to go off.”

But I would argue that not everything can be blamed on his Spencer blood. Just look at his God FatherPrince Andrew. Harry’s disruptive behavior has obviously caused friction between him and his brother but Tina thinks too much blame had been put on Meghan Markle. In her defense, she told CBS This Morning… “It’s really been sort of unraveling… really a couple of years before Meghan came on the scenes. She has been, I think, unfairly over-blamed for it… actually. Because it was starting to go sideways. When Harry had to come out of the army… after 10 years… and suddenly he was there. He was this charismatic number two. He wanted big assignments. He wanted to big out there on the public stage and realized… sort of for the first time seriously… that his brother… his path had diverged. He’s the future King. They’re no longer Diana’s boys.”

How crushing is that line? They’re no longer Diana’s boys??? Tina reveals in the book that a lot of the hurt between Prince Harry and Prince William was based on both men being passionate about similar causes. While it seems rather juvenile – if Prince Harry was already resentful of his role… then I do imagine showing up with your glossiest smile to promote a charity that you’re not personally invested in might feel like pulling teeth.

She calls the current relationship between Prince Harry and Prince William NON-EXISTENT.

In her interview with Time Magazine, Ms. Brown discussed Harry’s conflict with loathing the press vs. courting them at Invictus Games or with his upcoming book. She tells Time, “I’m told that is most puzzling to the royal family themselves at the moment. Apparently, what they say about Harry is ‘we don’t recognize him.’ Essentially, this conflict between wanting no press to being someone who can’t seem to stop talking.”

PRINCE HARRY: “She’s on great form. She’s always got a great sense of humor with me and I’m just making sure she’s protected and got the right people around her.”

Tina doesn’t name the quote-unquote “royal racist” in her book and when asked about it in interviews claims she doesn’t know. I don’t know if I believe her! Over 120 interviews and someone didn’t give you the answer to the biggest mystery since Who Shot JR?

Both William and Catherine come out seemingly unscathed in The Palace Papers. Tina believes that they are a very valuable asset to the monarchy. Telling the Washington Post… “Frankly, The House of Windsor is extremely lucky to have William as the older son, really. And even more lucky that he decided to marry a daughter of a middle-class family who turned out to be absolutely flawless in her learning of, training for, and adopting of the role of the future Queen. He is composed, he’s judicious, careful. Not as sexy, of course, as the much more turbulent and charismatic Harry… but thank God that Harry isn’t the first son because it is a job that involves doing a lot of very dull things a lot of the time and William has never shirked that.”

I couldn’t agree more. I love Prince William. His discipline, his kindness, his compassion, his big heart. I think he will make an incredible King one day. Although, I don’t know if I necessarily agree with the narrative that Catherine’s courtship with a young Prince William was as premeditated as the book makes it sound and I certainly don’t believe that Carole Middleton is this scheming Kris Jenner character that was working behind the scenes to secure royal association. I think everything fell into place the way that it should because it was God’s plan.

Another point Brown makes that I disagree with in the book is Diana not regretting her Martin Bashir interview. Had she known how disgustingly dishonest he had been to secure that interview… Diana would have popped her top. Here was this journalist, lying about all of the people around the princess, basically accusing them of doing the exact thing that he was doing to her. It’s unimaginable.

When it comes to the future of the monarchy… Tina believes it’s indestructible. However, she tells Sky News… “We are at a perilous moment, I think, in this particular time because a lot of the dramas over the last 25 years that I wrote about, were somehow… the Queen at the center was always this still center of composure – in the storm. She was always going to pull it together and pull it out. The difference now, of course, is we have a very frail Queen in the last twilight years of her life. And there wont be her as the composure at the center to pull the institution around with the same kind of gravitas…” “…I think personally that the British people will actually rally to Charles because there’s a desire for this institution to continue.”

I, too, would rally around a King Charles because thanks to Tina Brown’s book I now know his choice of toilet paper and it sounds divine. Kleenex Velvet lavatory tissue… welcome to my loo.

The Palace Papers is a pretty critical but fair assessment of the Mountbatten-Windsor monarchy. And while sources tell us that Prince Charles and Prince William had a hand in navigating Prince Andrew’s exit from the royal fold… it will be interesting to see how Prince Charles handles future scandal without our stoic Queen. She is the heart of the family. She is why we are so easy to forgive and forget. What happens when she is no longer here? Will we keep calm and carry on? Only time will tell!

Thank you for listening to this my lonely mini-epsiode of the To Di For Daily podcast. Special thanks to Andrew Morton, Christopher Andersen, and Tom Quinn for actually responding to my requests for interviews. See you at the Jubilee!


Kinsey Schofield is the author of R is for Revenge Dress and the founder of To Di For Daily. You can follow her on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook.