Just a few days before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's "no holds barred" interview with Oprah Winfrey is set to air, The Times published a report claiming the Duchess of Sussex faced a bullying complaint from aides during her time at Kensington Palace.
According to The Times, the complaint was filed back in October 2018—five months after Harry and Meghan's royal wedding— by Jason Knauf, who was the Sussexes’ communications secretary at the time. The complaint alleged Meghan's behavior behind the scenes at Kensington Palace resulted in two personal assistants leaving the household. Knauf's complaint also alleged that Meghan was "undermining the confidence" of a third staff member at the palace.
Following the publication of the report, Meghan and Harry released a statement via their spokesperson. “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," the statement reads. “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.”
According to The Guardian, Knauf is now chief executive officer of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—AKA Prince William and Kate Middleton. He took the job in 2019, following Prince Harry and Meghan's decision to set up their own office at Buckingham Palace.
Before Knauf filed his complaint against Meghan with the Royal Family's human resources department, sources claim Prince Harry pleaded with him to rethink his decision. The complaint was originally sent to Simon Case—Prince William's private secretary at the time. The complaint was then forwarded to Samantha Carruthers, the head of HR, who is based out of Prince Charles' official office at Clarence House. Knauf reportedly said Carruthers “agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious.”
When The Times reached out to Harry and Meghan for comment on the story, their legal team told the outlet it was “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative” before the Oprah interview. In the days leading up to the report's publication, multiple outlets published stories with quotes from palace sources claiming William, Kate and other members of the Royal Family were angry about the upcoming tell-all.
“Let’s just call this what it is: a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation," the spokesperson continued. "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 response to The Times concluded.
Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special airs March 7 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.