A key member of staff at Kensington Palace submitted a complaint against the Duchess of Sussex for bullying staff, the Times has revealed.
Members of the couple’s entourage are reported to have been reduced to tears with one staff member telling a colleague on one occasion “I can’t stop shaking” before coming up against Meghan.
The allegations put a sledgehammer to the image of a hyper-tolerant, woke and caring public figure the Duchess has been trying to curate of herself, particularly in the US, where she and Harry now live.
On Sunday, American television will broadcast an Oprah Winfrey interview with the couple. The timing of the bullying scoop has prompted the Sussexes to label it a “calculated smear campaign”.
However, the Times has been given access to damning email correspondence between senior Royal staff.
Harry and Meghan’s former communications adviser has been named as the individual who intervened on behalf of two colleagues who said they were being bullied.
In his email, Jason Knauf wrote: “I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The treatment of X* was totally unacceptable.
“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.”
Another staff member said Meghan had personally “humiliated” her.
The Sussexes’ lawyers say one of the aides left the palace following misconduct allegations, however the claim has not been confirmed. The lawyers added that the Times was “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative” in advance of the interview with Winfrey.
Following an exchange with top officials at Clarence House, Knauf wrote in an email that they “agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious”, although he remained “concerned that nothing will be done.”
The complaint led to no formal action, the two people mentioned by Knauf are said to feel nothing was done to investigate their claims.
The only significant outcome seems to have been a decision by the Duke of Cambridge and his private secretary, Simon Case to accelerate separating the two households, who were both living in Kensington Palace at the time.
“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,” said a source who confirmed senior people at both Buckingham Palace and Clarence House knew full well that Meghan’s staff felt they were being bullied.
The irony will not be lost on followers of Meghan’s dramatic fall from grace in the British press. The Duchess frequently presents herself as a figure of female empowerment.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Sussexes said: “Let’s just call this what it is – a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation. We are disappointed to see this defamatory portrayal of The Duchess of Sussex given credibility by a media outlet. It’s no coincidence that distorted several-year-old accusations aimed at undermining The Duchess are being briefed to the British media shortly before she and The Duke are due to speak openly and honestly about their experience of recent years…
“…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. 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.”