Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s pals think palace’s bullying probe is ‘retaliation’ for Oprah sit-down: report

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Friends of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have spoken out after Buckingham Palace said it was launching an investigation into bullying allegations. 

The Times of London reported allegations that the former American actress drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated” during her time as a working royal in Kensington Palace. 

An official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, the former communications secretary to Meghan Markle, 39, and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William.

Buckingham Palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the claims.

A spokesperson for Meghan Markle said the Duchess of Sussex is ‘saddened’ by the allegations being made.

“The assumption from friends close to Meghan and Harry is that the palace has released this statement to strike back at Harry and Meghan for doing the [tell-all] interview [with Oprah],” an insider told Us Weekly on Thursday. “The palace knows that they will not be cast in the best light by Harry and Meghan on Sunday and doesn’t want Harry and Meghan coming off as victims.”

The statement released by Buckingham Palace was confirmed by Fox News on Wednesday.

“We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” the statement read.

“Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article,” the statement continued. “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.”

On Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said ‘we are clearly very concerned’ in response to bullying allegations made against the Duchess of Sussex.

“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,” the statement concluded.

The source told Us Weekly those close to the couple view the response as “retaliation” for their upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The allegation also came days before the televised sit-down is scheduled to air.

“The accusations of Meghan bullying staff members were mostly the palace and personal aides who were in charge of reminding Harry and Meghan about royal protocols,” said the source. “That’s why there was so much tension between Harry, Meghan and the palace aides mentioned in The Times.”

It was previously announced that Prince Harry will be partnering with Oprah Winfrey to create a documentary series on mental health for Apple’s streaming service.

On Wednesday, CBS released a 30-second promo of the tell-all.

“How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?” Winfrey asks in the latest clip.

“I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” said Markle.

According to The Times, the complaint was first made in October 2018. The complaint alleged that the former American actress drove two personal assistants out of the household and undermined the confidence of a third staff member.

The outlet reported that Knauf submitted the complaint in an effort to protect palace staffers who alleged they were being bullied by Markle. Some claimed they were even reduced to tears. 

One royal aide allegedly told a colleague: “I can’t stop shaking.”

A source alleged that Harry, 36, pleaded with Knauf not to pursue the complaint. However, attorneys for the couple deny that the meeting took place or that Harry interfered with any staff matters.

The outlet said Knauf allegedly sent an email to Simon Case, who served as William’s private secretary at the time. The email was then forwarded to Samantha Carruthers, head of human resources. In the email, Knauf claimed Carruthers “agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious,” adding, “I remain concerned that nothing will be done.”

A spokesperson for Markle strongly refuted the claims published by The Times.

“The Duchess is 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,” a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement sent to Fox News on Wednesday.

“She is determined to continue her work building compassion around the world and will keep striving to set an example for doing what is right and doing what is good,” the statement added.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex currently reside in California with their son Archie.

On Feb. 15, CBS announced Harry and Markle will be speaking with Winfrey. It’s the couple’s first major television interview since quitting royal duties and buying a home last year in the U.S.

The sit-down, titled “Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special,” will air on March 7. Winfrey, 67, attended their wedding in 2018 and lives near them in Montecito, California.

Markle married Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son Archie was born a year later.

On Valentine’s Day, the couple confirmed to Fox News that they are expecting their second child.

American actress Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Britain’s Prince Harry.

Markle and Harry stepped away from full-time royal life in March 2020, unhappy at media scrutiny and the strictures of their roles. They cited what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess, who is African American.

It was agreed the situation would be reviewed after a year. On Feb. 19, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple will not be returning to royal duties and Harry will give up his honorary military titles — a decision that makes formal, and final, the couple’s split from the royal family.

The pair verified “they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family. “

A spokesperson for the couple hit back at suggestions that Markle and Harry were not devoted to duty.

Meghan Markle is expecting her second child.

“As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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