Meghan Markle: bullying staff claims explained, what the email to The Times said – and when is the Oprah interview?

Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey will debut on ITV on 8 March, sharing their side of the royal feud

Meghan has been accused of bullying members of Kensington palace staff, Buckingham palace will now investigate the claims (Picture: CBS/Getty Images)
Meghan has been accused of bullying members of Kensington palace staff, Buckingham palace will now investigate the claims (Picture: CBS/Getty Images)

Meghan Markle has come up against new claims that she bullied and mistreated members of the Royal household at Kensington Palace.

The claims - to which Buckingham Palace has responded - only add to the heightened anticipation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s upcoming interview with US television legend, Oprah Winfrey.

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So, what has Meghan been accused of, will the palace take action, and how has she responded? This is what we know so far.

What has the Duchess of Sussex been accused of?

On 2 March, an email sent by one of Harry and Meghan’s aides in October 2018 was leaked to The Times newspaper, suggesting Meghan had behaved unacceptably towards Kensington Palace staff.

The couple had married in the May of that year and had been living with Prince William and Kate Middleton at the time.

The leaked email alleges that Markle mistreated two assistants, which left them feeling forced to leave their jobs - the report added that others felt “humiliated” by the Duchess.

The Times said an official complaint was made at the time by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and Prince Harry.

The accusations come just days before an tell-all interview by the couple with Oprah Winfrey, which is expected to reveal why the couple left their royal duties behind to raise their son Archie in the US.

Harry and Meghan also revealed on Valentine’s Day that they are expecting their second child and days later, were stripped of their royal affiliations and several official titles.

Has the royal family responded to these claims?

Buckingham Palace responded to the accusations of bullying on 3 March, announcing it was to launch an investigation into the claims.

It has been reported that no further action was taken when the complaints were originally lodged by Knauf.

Knauf is still a member of staff at the palace and now works for Prince William.

The palace said it was "clearly very concerned" about the allegations and its Human Resources team "will look into the circumstances outlined in the article" and take evidence from existing and former employees.

The statement added: "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.”

How has Meghan responded to these claims?

A statement issued by Markle's spokesman in response to the newspaper's story 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.

"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."

Following this statement, another teaser of the couple’s interview with Winfrey was shared by US network, CBS.

It showed Markle saying the palace could not expect her and her husband to stay silent if it was "perpetuating falsehoods about us".

The clip also showed Meghan’s response to being asked how she felt about the palace hearing her "speak your truth".

Meghan said: "If that comes with risk of losing things, I mean... there is a lot that has been lost already."

Previous clips taken from the interview have shown Harry saying he feared “history would repeat itself”, referencing the treatment of his mother, Princess Diana, by the media.

Harry added: “I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here, talking to you, with my wife by my side, because I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for her, going through this process by herself, all those years ago.

“Because it has been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we had each other.”

Have others defended Meghan?

Meghan’a Suits co-stars have jumped to her defence and suggested the Royal family should have done more to protect her from scrutiny.

Patrick J Adams, who plays Mike Ross in the US show, said Meghan is "kind, cooperative, giving, joyful and supportive" and said she did not change as "fame, prestige and power accrued"

Adams also described the Duchess as a "powerful woman with a deep sense of morality and a fierce work ethic (who) has never been afraid to speak up"

He added that it was was "obscene" that Buckingham Palace was "promoting and amplifying accusations of bullying against a woman who herself was basically forced to flea (sic) the UK in order protect her family and her own mental health" and added the investigation was "just another stunning example of the shamelessness of a institution that has outlived its relevance, is way overdrawn on credibility and apparently bankrupt of decency".

The creator of Suits, Aaron Korsh, has tweeted his support too, writing: "Meghan Markle is not a monster.

"She's a strong woman with a kind heart who's trying to make her way in an unimaginable situation.

"I don't know the specifics of some incident from years ago but if late night emails makes you a horrible person, then I'm going to hell 50 times over."

When is ‘Oprah with Harry and Meghan’ on TV?

The exclusive interview was first be shown in the US at 8pm on Sunday 7 March on CBS.

It will be shown by ITV in the UK, on Monday 8 March at 9pm.