Meghan Markle is being smeared amid growing feud with Buckingham Palace – Ayesha Hazarika

Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle and some bloke called Harry, which airs in the UK on ITV on Monday evening, is the ultimate way to mark International Women’s Day.

Pour yourself a large vino, snuggle on the sofa and watch the sparks fly. It’s going to make the Married at First Sight Australia reunion look like the Vicar of Dibley.

But the next-level drama has already begun. Allegations of Meghan bullying staff and stories about Saudi earrings have been briefed to the press, seemingly as a last-ditch, rather desperate, pre-emptive strike before the Oprah interview.

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As someone who has worked in politics and the media, it’s a tried-and-tested method of skull-duggery and, I would argue, shows how rattled the palace are.

“But what about the women?” I hear you cry. Bullying must never be tolerated, but the timing is a bit of a giveaway, right?

I know people who worked alongside the Sussexes. It’s no secret that Meghan is an ambitious, hard-working, demanding person with high standards. She didn’t bag the hottest bachelor on the planet by accident. Those I spoke to who worked at the palace talked about her being “demanding”, but also gushed about how great she was and that she was a welcome breath of fresh air.

She’s a confident, extroverted American starlet. She knows what she wants and how to get it. Good on her. It’s allowed. It’s modern. The very opposite of the fusty, dusty, antiquated, structured, cautious, conservative traditions of the royal household. There was bound to be a culture clash.

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Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey (Picture: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)

However, bullying should be taken seriously, so by all means, let’s have an independent inquiry. I welcome the palace’s Damascene conversion on protecting young women. Can we also have an inquiry into who from the palace leaked stories about Meghan to the press including when she was pregnant?

I eagerly await an inquiry into Prince Andrew and his connections with the deceased paedophile Jeffery Epstein and Ghislane Maxwell. I’m sure the Palace will be arranging for him to speak with American investigators as soon as possible, because they suddenly really care about protecting women.

Thrown into the latest story was a rather tenuous but explosive link to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, because Meghan apparently wore a pair of earrings from Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salem. I take my hat off to whoever came up with that doozy. This Saudi earring business wasn’t so much a smear, more a dirty protest.

What more juicy revelations about the “real” Meghan can we expect? She shot JR, killed Kenny and stole Shergar? One suspects she may well be H in Line of Duty.

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There are, of course, the usual racial undercurrents which colour hatred towards Meghan, but they really stepped it up this time. She is being framed as an angry black woman, a pernicious racist trope.

Friends in the tabloid press push back at the idea that race has been an element. This was best summed up by Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail who said of her “I don’t see a black woman… I just see an attractive woman.” Let’s just leave that there.

This is all such a horrible, toxic mess. I genuinely feel for the Queen as well as the couple. I suspect that, just like in politics, it’s overly zealous, pumped-up advisers who are doing most of the damage with their increasingly unhinged attacks.

It all reminded me of the lengths to which Princess Diana went to keep her Panorama interview a secret from the palace before it aired. You can now see why.

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