Buckingham Palace to investigate claim Meghan bullied royal staff - 'We are very concerned'

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·Royal Correspondent
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Watch: Meghan 'saddened' by 'latest attack on her character' amid bullying claim

Buckingham Palace has said it will investigate claims made by a former employee that Meghan Markle had bullied staff while working as a senior royal.

According to The Times, Jason Knauf, now the chief executive officer of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, had raised concerns about Meghan with the palace HR team in October 2018.

However, nothing was taken forward.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Buckingham Palace said: "We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

"Accordingly our HR 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."

The Times alleges that the complaint was made by Knauf in October 2018 and a source said Prince Harry asked him not to pursue it.

Knauf reportedly raised concerns that the duchess "was able to bully two PAs out of the household". 

LEICESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 28: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Jason Knauf, Communications Secretary to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, accompanies Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on a visit to Leicester City Football Club's King Power Stadium to pay tribute to those people killed in the helicopter crash of October 27 on November 28, 2018 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Jason Knauf, then-Communications Secretary to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, on a visit to Leicester City Football Club's King Power Stadium in November 2018. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Read more: Royal adviser who complained about Meghan's 'bullying' still working for Kate and William

The duchess said she was "saddened" by the report on Wednesday, and her lawyers said it amounted to a smear campaign.

A spokesman for the couple told Yahoo News UK: "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."

PA media reported the Palace hopes to start the investigation soon and said any changes in policies or procedures will be shared in the Palace’s annual Sovereign Grant report.

The Times report came days before the planned airing of a sit-down interview between Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry and Meghan, which is set to address the stepping back of the couple as senior royals.

Watch: ITV to air Oprah Winfrey's interview with the Sussexes

Read more: How can I watch Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview in the UK?

In a trailer for the two hour special, to be shown on CBS in the US on Sunday evening, Winfrey says that no topic was "off-limits" as the Duchess of Sussex nods.

And Harry discusses how what happened to his mother, Princess Diana, played into their decision, as he says he feared "history repeating itself".

On Wednesday ITV confirmed it had won a bidding war to get the rights to show the interview in the UK. It will air at 9pm on 8 March.

Knauf still works with members of the Royal Family, in the role of chief executive officer of Prince William and Kate's Royal Foundation, which deals with their charitable work.

He is also one of the so-called 'Palace Four' who found themselves named in court during the battle between Meghan and Associated Newspapers Ltd, who publish the Mail On Sunday and the MailOnline.

He helped Meghan with ideas when she wrote a letter to her father, Thomas Markle Snr, after her wedding to Prince Harry. Markle Snr had not attended and is estranged from his daughter.

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