Buckingham Palace launches probe into allegations Meghan Markle bullied royal staff 


Buckingham Palace is launching an investigation into allegations that Meghan Markle bullied royal aides.

The Duchess of Sussex is accused of ‘driving out’ two PAs and shattering the confidence of another member of staff – with one former aide branding Harry and his wife ‘outrageous bullies’ in The Times today.

Meghan has denied the allegations and accused the newspaper of being ‘used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative’ about her.

Royal officials initially refused to comment, with royal sources telling MailOnline that aides and senior family members are focused on Prince Philip’s health problems in hospital. 

But tonight, the Palace confirmed that its HR team will ‘look into’ the allegations, saying it ‘does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace’.

A  spokesperson said: ‘We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  

‘Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article.

‘Members of staff involved at the time, including those who have left the Household, will be invited to participate to see if lessons can be learned.  

‘The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.’ 

A bullying complaint was lodged against the Duchess of Sussex by a senior member of Kensington Palace staff before she and Prince Harry quit as working royals, it was dramatically claimed last night

Meghan earlier said The Times is being ‘used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative based on misleading and harmful misinformation’ about her treatment of staff after former aides accused her of ’emotional cruelty and manipulation’, reducing them to tears and leaving them ‘shaking’ with fear.

Her lawyers said the former actress was ‘saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma’. 

It came as ITV1 confirmed the ViacomCBS show, called Oprah With Meghan and Harry, will be broadcast in the UK between 9pm and 11pm on Monday night, almost 24 hours after it is shown in the United States.

The Times reported the claim was made in October 2018 by Jason Knauf, who worked as communications secretary to Harry and Meghan. 

It came as ITV1 confirmed the ViacomCBS show, called Oprah With Meghan and Harry (the show's trailer, pictured), will be broadcast in the UK between 9pm and 11pm on Monday night, almost 24 hours after it is shown in the United States

It came as ITV1 confirmed the ViacomCBS show, called Oprah With Meghan and Harry (the show’s trailer, pictured), will be broadcast in the UK between 9pm and 11pm on Monday night, almost 24 hours after it is shown in the United States

Staff told The Times they have spoken out to give their story before the couple’s tell-all interview, claiming that when Meghan was urged to support palace staff she replied: ‘It’s not my job to coddle people.’ 

It is also claimed that the couple’s treatment of aides worried Harry’s brother William so much, because some staff were shared, that he and his most senior advisor Simon Case hastened the split between the Sussex and the Cambridge households and the destruction of their joint foundation. MailOnline has asked Kensington Palace to comment.

The Duchess claims The Times is being ‘used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative based on misleading and harmful misinformation’ about her treatment of aides, with her lawyers denying she or Harry have ever been bullies.

Other extraordinary revelations in The Times include claims Meghan wore a pair of £500,000 diamond earrings to a dinner in Fiji in 2018 that were a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, three weeks after the US claims he approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 

Meghan Markle wore a pair of striking diamond earrings that were allegedly a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. She is pictured wearing them at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, Fiji, on October 23, 2018, three weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Meghan Markle wore a pair of striking diamond earrings that were allegedly a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. She is pictured wearing them at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, Fiji, on October 23, 2018, three weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

A spokesman for the Sussexes said in a statement to The Times: 'Let's just call this what it is - a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation'

A spokesman for the Sussexes said in a statement to The Times: ‘Let’s just call this what it is – a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation’

Revealed: Meghan’s £500,000 diamond earrings were NOT ‘borrowed’ but a ‘wedding gift from Saudi Crown Prince’ – and worn by Duchess three weeks after assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in consulate 

The Duchess of Sussex was again seen wearing the earrings one month later on November 14, 2018 as she was photographed leaving Kensington Palace to attend Prince Charles's 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace

The Duchess of Sussex was again seen wearing the earrings one month later on November 14, 2018 as she was photographed leaving Kensington Palace to attend Prince Charles’s 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace

Meghan Markle wore a pair of striking diamond earrings that were a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it was claimed today.

Kensington Palace had said at the time of the formal dinner in Fiji in October 2018 – which took place three weeks after the killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul – that the jewellery was ‘borrowed’, without stating from whom.  

Lawyers for the Duchess of Sussex have now told The Times that she may have stated they were borrowed, but did not say they were borrowed from a jeweller – and denied that she had misled anyone about their provenance.

The newspaper was also told by Meghan’s team that every relevant member of royal staff knew who the earrings were from, and the Duchess was unaware of rumours at the time that bin Salman was involved in the killing.

Bin Salman is not thought to have met Meghan or given her the earrings in person. The jewellery is considered Crown property because it was a gift from a foreign head of state, and she would not be allowed to sell them.  

The earrings Meghan wore for the black tie reception at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, which was hosted by Fiji’s president Jioji Konrote, were later revealed as being made by celebrity designer Butani. 

 

And in a further twist Ms Markle, a campaigner for women’s rights, told aides they were borrowed from a jeweller, rather than a present from a regime known for human rights abuses and the oppression of women. 

Lawyers for the Duchess of Sussex have told The Times that she may have stated they were borrowed, but did not say they were borrowed from a jeweller – and denied that she had misled anyone about their provenance. 

The newspaper claims that on the same official tour the Duchess was seen being ushered out of an official engagement to a local market due to apparent security concerns. 

In fact, it says, Meghan had cut short the visit because she had ‘reservations‘ about the organisation UN Women, which had an involvement in the event.   

Describing life working for Meghan and Harry, aides have claimed they ‘bent over backwards’ to help her when she arrived after the couple became engaged in 2017.

A source told The Times: ‘Everyone knew that the institution would be judged by her happiness’.

According to the Times their sources say two ‘senior’ members of royal staff were bullied by the duchess. An ex-employee alleged they had been ‘humiliated’.

Another aide described the experience of working for the Sussexes as ‘more like emotional cruelty and manipulation, which I guess could also be called bullying’.

Staff claimed that had on had occasion been reduced to tears after dealings with Meghan and one aide told a colleague ‘I can’t stop shaking’ as they anticipated a row with the Duchess. 

Meghan’s lawyers vehemently deny she is a bully and said that one person had left the job because of misconduct. The Times said it could not corroborate that claim before publication last night.

Meghan has hit back and believes she is the victim of a ‘calculated smear campaign’ by the Royal Household after it was alleged she bullied and ‘drove out’ two PAs and eroded the confidence of a third aide.

Her lawyers said the former actress was ‘saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma’. 

The finger was pointed at Meghan when a bullying complaint was lodged against the Duchess of Sussex by a senior member of Kensington Palace staff before she and Prince Harry quit as working royals, it was dramatically claimed last night. 

The newspaper says Mr Knauf, who now heads the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charitable foundation, seemingly acted to get Buckingham Palace to protect staff he claimed were coming under unbearable pressure from Meghan. It further claims Harry ‘pleaded’ with him not to pursue the allegations.

Sensationally, the couple’s lawyers told the newspaper it was ‘being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative’ before this weekend’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. 

The Mail also approached a spokesman for the Sussexes for comment. 

Meghan Markle's aide Melissa Touabti (right) quit just six months after the Royal wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018. She had also worked for Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda (pictured left)

Meghan Markle’s aide Melissa Touabti (right) quit just six months after the Royal wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018. She had also worked for Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda (pictured left)

The Times said it was contacted by sources who felt a ‘partial version’ had emerged of Meghan’s two years as a working royal.

It makes clear they wished to tell their side in advance of Sunday’s ‘tell all’ television interview, which is likely to make uncomfortable viewing for Buckingham Palace. 

The newspaper says Mr Knauf sent his email to Simon Case, then the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary and now the cabinet secretary, after conversations with Samantha Carruthers, the head of HR. Mr Case then forwarded it to Miss Carruthers, who was based at Clarence House.

In his email Mr Knauf also made clear he was concerned nothing had been done, or would be done in future, to protect palace staff.

The Times quotes from his email, which is alleged to say: ‘I am very concerned the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The treatment of X was totally unacceptable.’

He added: ‘The duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying Y and seeking to undermine her confidence. We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behaviour towards Y.’

A spokesman for the Sussexes said in a statement to The Times: ‘Let’s just call this what it is – a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation’.

The Times reported it was made in October 2018 by Jason Knauf (pictured on the Duke and Duchess's wedding day), who worked as communications secretary to Harry and Meghan

The Times reported it was made in October 2018 by Jason Knauf (pictured on the Duke and Duchess’s wedding day), who worked as communications secretary to Harry and Meghan

Jason Knauf said in his email that his colleague Samantha Carruthers, the head of HR, ‘agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious’, but added: ‘I remain concerned that nothing will be done’.

Insiders told The Times that despite the intervention nothing was done to investigate the situation or to protect staff from bullying from senior royals in the future.

One source told The Times: ‘I think the problem is, not much happened with it. It was, “How can we make this go away?’, rather than addressing it”.

The email also described his worries about the stress the Sussexes’ private secretary Samantha Cohen was placed under. Mr Knauf wrote: ‘I questioned if the Household policy on bullying and harassment applies to principals’.

The Sussexes’ lawyers told The Times the couple remained close to Samantha today, and are very grateful for all her work them, denying she was ever bullied. 

The Times claims that after the email was sent, Prince Harry had a meeting with Mr Knauf and asked him not to pursue the claims against his wife. Lawyers for the couple deny the claim, or that the meeting took place at all.

Aides say that they did more to welcome Meghan than has been publicly acknowledged and wanted to give their side of the story before her interview with Oprah is broadcast in the US on Sunday and in the UK on Monday.

Mr Knauf's email also described his worries about the stress the Sussexes' private secretary Samantha Cohen was placed under (pictured behind Meghan and the Queen). The Sussexes' lawyers have said they remain close to Samantha and deny she was bullied

Mr Knauf’s email also described his worries about the stress the Sussexes’ private secretary Samantha Cohen was placed under (pictured behind Meghan and the Queen). The Sussexes’ lawyers have said they remain close to Samantha and deny she was bullied

One source claimed: ‘Senior people in the household, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, knew that they had a situation where members of staff, particularly young women, were being bullied to the point of tears.

‘The institution just protected Meghan constantly. All the men in grey suits who she hates have a lot to answer for, because they did absolutely nothing to protect people’.



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