The allegations came days before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s sit-down with Oprah Winfrey airs on Sunday
A report by The Times in the U.K. alleged that the Duchess of Sussex fced allegations of bullying during her time as a working royal in Kensington Palace. (AP)
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“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, as confirmed by Fox News on Wednesday.
“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.”
“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.
A rep for Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
On Tuesday, The Times in the U.K. alleged that Markle faced a bullying complaint made by one of her close advisers. However, the 39-year-old’s team has strongly refuted the claims.
“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 allegation came days before Markle’s televised sit-down with Oprah Winfrey alongside her husband Prince Harry is scheduled to air on Sunday.
“The whole thing reminds me of an old rugby saying: ‘Get your retaliation in first,’” one insider told the outlet.
According to The Times, the complaint was first made in October 2018, by Jason Knauf, the couple’s former communications secretary. 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 Prince 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 the Sussexes fired back at the allegations reported by The Times.
“Let’s just call this what it is – a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation,” the spokesperson told the outlet.
“We are disappointed to see this defamatory portrayal of The Duchess of Sussex given credibility by a media outlet,” the spokesperson continued. “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.”
In addition to the bullying allegations, The Times also alleged that during her 2018 visit to Fiji, Markle wore earrings that were a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. U.S. intelligence agencies have said the 35-year-old approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi that same year.
People magazine noted the earrings were gifted on March 7, 2018, from the Saudi Arabian royal family. The outlet revealed that neither the Duke nor Duchess of Sussex were present when the gift was presented at Buckingham Palace. It is also protocol for any wedding gift of this nature to remain property of The Crown.
In 2019, several of Markle’s friends told People the duchess has been a victim of “global bullying” by the tabloids.
“Meg has silently sat back and endured the lies and untruths,” one pal told the outlet.
In 2018, the U.K.’s Mail on Sunday alleged Markle, or “Hurricane Meghan,” “bombarded aides” with 5 a.m. emails and texts.
Last week, 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.
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.
“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.