Meghan Markle is reportedly “saddened” by allegations from Palace staffers that claim she bullied them.
According to People, The Times in the U.K. claimed that staffers accused the Duchess of Sussex of bullying in a complaint made by one of her close advisers during her time as a royal at Kensington Palace. Markle’s reps have steadfastly refuted the claim.
“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. “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 continued.
One observer told people the timing of the Times’ report is suspicious because the couple has a much anticipated, sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey coming out on Sunday.
“The whole thing reminds me of an old rugby saying: ‘Get your retaliation in first,” the observer said.
According to The Times, the complaint was made in October 2018 by the couple’s former communications secretary Jason Knauf. Knauf reportedly claimed that Meghan drove two personal assistants out of the household and undermined the confidence of another staff member.
The submitted complaint claims that staffers were, at times reduced to tears due to the alleged bullying from the Duchess of Sussex. One royal aide, who was terrified of an anticipated confrontation with Meghan, is alleged to have told another colleague: “I can’t stop shaking.”
Sources told The Times that Prince Harry pleaded with Knauf not to pursue the complaint with HR, but lawyers for the couple deny any conversations ever took place or that the Duke of Sussex would have interfered in any such way on any staff matter.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Sussexes told The Times: “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,” their statement read.