MEGHAN Markle is facing allegations of bullying staff made by one of her closest advisers during her time at Kensington Palace.
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The newspaper reports a source came forward after claiming only a partial version of Meghan’s two years working as a member of the royal family had emerged.
It is claimed allegations of bullying at the palace were submitted by Jason Knauf in October 2018 who was the couple’s communications secretary at the time.
The claims were raised to HR in a bid to get Buckingham Palace to protect the staff that Knauf alleged were coming under pressure from the duchess.
A source told the newspaper that Prince Harry had pleaded with Knauf not to pursue the bullying allegations.
Meghan was revealed as Harry’s girlfriend in 2016 and they married two years later before quitting royal duty to live in California.
A spokesman for the Sussexes said last night they were the victims of a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation.
The couple’s spokesman claimed the duchess 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 comes as:
They were responding to claims that Knauf emailed Prince William’s private secretary Simon Case after raising bullying concerns with Samantha Carruthers, the head of HR.
Case, who is now Cabinet Secretary, then forwarded it to Carruthers, who was based at Clarence House, the newspaper states.
In his email which has only just emerged, Knauf apparently says Carruthers “agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious”.
He was said to have written: “I remain concerned that nothing will be done.”
The newspaper claims that other sources said they were concerned that there was no investigation or attempt to protect the staff from being bullied by Meghan.
Last night Meghan and Harry’s lawyers told The Times that the newspaper is “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative” just days before the Oprah interview is aired the USA.
The couple have filmed the interview with the chatshow Queen which will be screened on Sunday.
There have been calls for Oprah to shelve the two-hour long chat as Prince Philip, 99, remains in hospital.
More sources told The Times a “febrile” atmosphere existed at Kensington Palace when Meghan and Harry lived beside William and Kate.
Staff were said to be occasionally reduced to tears.
And one aide, fearing a confrontation with Meghan, apparently told a colleague: “I can’t stop shaking.”
‘I CAN’T STOP SHAKING’
Two senior members of staff have claimed that they were bullied by the duchess.
And another ex-employee alleged they had been personally “humiliated” by Meghan Markle.
The former worker also said two other members of staff had been bullied.
Another aide said Meghan’s behaviour felt “more like emotional cruelty and manipulation, which I guess could also be called bullying”.
The duchess denies bullying and her lawyers stated that one individual left after findings of misconduct.
In a revelation set to rock Harry and Meghan, The Times also said The Duchess of Sussex wore earrings that were a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.
They were worn to a formal dinner in Fiji in 2018 three weeks after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose death US intelligence agencies claim was approved by the Crown Prince.
At the time it was reported that the earrings were borrowed.
Tour sources claim Meghan cut short an engagement in Fiji because of her reservations about the organisation UN Women.
The duchess denies the sources’ claims about the event, it is understood.
The Times report that Knauf wrote in his email: “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.”
It was, ‘How can we make this go away?’, rather than addressing it.
A source on bullying claims
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.”
The email sent to the HR department also expressed concern about the stress felt by the couple’s private secretary Samantha Cohen.
It concluded: “I questioned if the Household policy on bullying and harassment applies to principals.”
One source said: “I think the problem is, not much happened with it. It was, ‘How can we make this go away?’, rather than addressing it.”
After Harry was told about the complaint, a source insisted he had a meeting with Knauf in which he begged him not to pursue it, it is claimed.
Lawyers for Meg and Harry deny that any meeting took place or that the duke would have interfered with any staff matter.
Another source told the newspaper: “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.”
Knauf‘s complaint never progressed, it was claimed last night.
Two of the people named in his email are are said to feel that nothing has been done to investigate the bullying claim, the paper says.
A month after reporting the allegation of bullying, Knauf handed in his notice.
He took up a job as an adviser to Prince William the following March when Harry and Meghan left Kensington Palace.
Knauf is now chief executive of the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation.
After a newspaper revealed that a PA had left after only six months, it is understood that the duchess became extremely concerned about the number of stories in the press about staff leaving.
Her lawyers told the paper that she did not read the press.
Her tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga was a difficult one for staff, sources alleged.
Journalists at the time were told the earrings had been borrowed from a jeweller.
This was three weeks after the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Lawyers for the duchess said she may have stated they were borrowed.
But claim she did not say they were borrowed from a jeweller and deny that she had misled anyone.
Last night it was said although Case took Knauf’s complaint seriously, he had no managerial responsibility.
He ensured it was sent to HR and helped the staff member still employed, it was said.
A source claimed the issue of treatment of staff accelerated the splitting of Harry and Meghan’s household from the Cambridges.
A source said: “What was a long-term plan became an immediate plan.”
The spokesman for the Sussexes gave a statement reported by The Times that reads: “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.
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“In a detailed legal letter of rebuttal to The Times, we have addressed these defamatory claims in full, including spurious allegations regarding the use of gifts loaned to The Duchess by The Crown.
“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.”
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.