MEGHAN Markle claims Royal aides have launched a “calculated smear campaign” against her ahead of her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
This comes after sources told The Times that the Duchess allegedly bullied two palace staff members forcing them to quit their jobs – claims she denies.
The Duchess of Sussex, 39, is said to have undermined the confidence of a third staff member, the report says.
Jason Knauf, Harry and Meghan’s former communications assistant, reportedly submitted a complaint in 2018 to protect palace aides who were allegedly coming under pressure from the American former actress.
The shocking claims come ahead of the couple’s high profile interview with Oprah Winfrey in which they are set to dish the dirt on their split from the royal family.
A spokesman for the Sussexes has today issued a statement branding the bullying claims “distorted several-year-old accusations.
He 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.
“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.”
They also claimed the newspaper was “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative.”
Sources told The Times there was a tense atmosphere at the Palace during Meghan’s time there – with staff occasionally reduced to tears.
One royal aide, anticipating a row with the duchess, is alleged to have told a colleague: “I can’t stop shaking.”
The report claims Meghan “humiliated” at least one ex-staffer while another said the Duchess’ behaviour felt “more like emotional cruelty and manipulation…”
Knauf reportedly emailed Prince William’s private secretary Simon Case after raising bullying concerns with Samantha Carruthers, the Palace’s head of HR.
Case, who is now Cabinet Secretary, then forwarded it to Carruthers, who was based at Clarence House, the Times reports.
In the email, Knauf is reported to have said that the situation was “very serious” and that Carruthers “agreed” with his concerns.
He 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.”
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 source claimed the issue of treatment of staff accelerated the splitting of Harry and Meghan’s household from William and Kate’s.
“What was a long-term plan became an immediate plan”, the source added.
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Harry and Meghan have already filmed their interview with Oprah which will be screened on Sunday in the US and on ITV in the UK on Monday.
The pair will reportedly discuss how media coverage of them in Britain caused them to split from the royals and move to California.
There have been calls for Oprah to shelve the two-hour chat as Harry’s grandfather Prince Philip, 99, remains in hospital.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on The Times’ report.