Watch: Buckingham Palace hires external law firm to look into Meghan Markle bullying claims
Bullying allegations about the Duchess of Sussex show that Kensington Palace will not "sit back and take" Prince Harry and Meghan's claims about royal life.
Shortly before Harry and Meghan's explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey was aired, it emerged that a dossier had been compiled by a staff member at Kensington Palace – when it represented both the Cambridges and the Sussexes – that accused Meghan of bullying two members of staff out of the royal household.
Meghan, 39, denied the claims, calling them a "calculated smear campaign", and many of her friends leaped to her defence, but royal experts have said the fact the allegations emerged at all marked a change in the tone of the rift between William and Harry.
Reports of the brothers being at odds surfaced more than 18 months ago, with the division of their shared royal household after Harry and Meghan's wedding a big turning point.
Harry and Meghan's decision to step back, and then to give an interview to Winfrey about life in the Royal Family, was also reported to anger William.
But there was mostly silence on his side, until the emergence of the report of Meghan's alleged bullying.
Speaking during an ITV documentary about the brothers, royal author Penny Junor said: "The fact that the story appeared before the interview, I think, is an indication it must have had some sort of nod from Kensington Palace."
Vanity Fair royal correspondent Katie Nicholl added: "For The Times to be leaked this sensational story, that elevates this feud, this rift, this huge controversy in the Royal Family, into a completely different stratosphere.
"That was the moment is was very clear the palace was not going to sit back and take this."
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Daily Telegraph associate editor Camilla Tominey asked "is it any wonder that a bullying dossier ends up in The Times?" when Harry and Meghan did not "take any blame" for what happened in the run-up to them leaving their senior royal roles.
Robert Lacey, author of Battle Of Brothers, said Jason Knauf, one-time staff member for both William and Harry, brought a dossier of "bullying" allegations to William in October 2019, but that Harry defended his wife.
Tominey told the documentary that there were people in the palace who had been left "extremely upset" by her, while Nicholl said courtiers complained of early morning texts and emails.
Tominey said: "The pace at the palace is slower than Meghan will have been used to. My sense of it is that they did become very demanding and difficult to work for, but also that they didn't feel they were being listened to."
Meghan has also been defended about her revelations of royal life, including by friend Janina Gavankar, who said there were "receipts" to back up her claims.
Speaking of the brotherly rift, Omid Scobie, who co-wrote a biography on the Sussexes called Finding Freedom, said that seeing where Harry and William are now is "sad", and that he hoped "moments together like remembering their mother's life" would bring them together.
Harry and William were briefly reunited on 1 July, which would have been their mother's 60th birthday, to unveil a statue of her in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace.
Harry was reported to have left within 20 minutes of the end of the private ceremony, which was attended by a small number of close family.
The palaces and the Sussexes have not responded to any of the claims from the documentary.
Harry And William: What Went Wrong? is available on the ITV hub.
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