Duchess Meghan is shutting down claims that she “bullied” a close adviser at Kensington Palace in 2018, and royal officials say they will investigate the claims.
A report published Tuesday in Britain’s The Times suggests Jason Knauf, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s communications secretary at that time, made a complaint in October 2018 that Meghan “drove two personal assistants out of the household and was undermining the confidence of a third staff member.”
In a statement to USA TODAY, a spokesperson for Meghan and Prince Harry said 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.”
The statement continued: “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 Times article, which does not highlight any of Meghan’s alleged specific actions, notes that the concern was shared with Knauf’s superior but “nothing was done at the time to investigate the situation.”
Buckingham Palace issued a statement of “concern” in response later Wednesday, promising to look into the allegations and stressing that royal employers do not tolerate bullying.
“We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” the palace statement said. “Accordingly our (Human Resources) team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article. 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.”
On Tuesday, Meghan won a preliminary payment of about $625,000 towards her $2 million legal costs from the losing Associated Newspapers in her privacy infringement lawsuit, a British judge ruled.
At a virtual hearing in London, the judge, Mark Warby, also rejected the tabloid publisher’s application for permission to appeal, saying there was no real prospect of another court reaching a different conclusion.
But he said the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline still has the right to renew the application to a Court of Appeals judge.
Associated Newspapers said it would do so, as a spokesman for the publisher told The Daily Mail that it was disappointed with the judge’s decision.
In a written submission to the court, Associated Newspapers’ lawyer, Antony White, said his clients believe a bid to overturn Warby’s ruling last month in Meghan’s favor “would have a real prospect of success.”
More:Duchess Meghan wins legal fees from tabloid in privacy lawsuit; judge rejects publisher’s appeal
The hearing Tuesday was scheduled after Warby granted Meghan summary judgment in her contentious lawsuit against the tabloid and its owners for violating her privacy in February 2019, when it published five stories featuring parts of a private letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, following her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry.
The hearing covered multiple issues in the aftermath of Meghan’s victory in the case, including damages, legal fees and a still outstanding question about whether Meghan was the “sole” author of her letter to her father.
The Times’ claims come days before Harry and Meghan are scheduled to appear in a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey for their first American TV interview, a two-hour ordeal titled “Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special,” airing at 8 p.m. EST/PST.
In two promos that aired Sunday, Meghan doesn’t speak, but Winfrey appears to quote her, calling the couple’s frustrations “almost unsurvivable.” She asks: “Were you silent or were you silenced?”
Queen Elizabeth II and a clutch of other royals will also take to the airwaves in Britain on Sunday for their first TV-only Commonwealth Day service on the BBC.
Contributing: Maria Puente
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