For Meghan Markle, and for both her supporters and critics, there isn’t likely to be any closure over allegations that she bullied staff when she was a working royal.
That’s because Buckingham Palace has “buried” findings of an unprecedented internal investigation that was launched in March 2021, shortly before she and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey to air their grievances against the royal family in a globally televised interview, according to a report in the Times UK.
The investigation into Meghan’s alleged actions during her 20-month stint in “the firm” has led to Buckingham Palace “improving the policies and procedures” in its human resources department, royal sources told the Times, but its findings won’t be published, with the idea that keeping the results under wraps will protect the privacy of those who took part in the inquiry and will reduce tensions between Meghan and Harry and the royal family, the Times also said.
Courtiers all along said that the inquiry would “not be played out in public,” but news that the findings will be kept secret have had the opposite effect on easing tensions between the pro- and anti-Meghan camps, and among palace staffers who participated in the inquiry.
The news means that this debate surrounding the duchess will persist, fueled by new speculation over what the palace’s silence really means. Staff members also reportedly were “disappointed” that the findings won’t be released, the Times said, because they alleged that Meghan caused “real stress and trauma” with the way she interacted with them, People reported in March 2021.
The palace hired an outside law firm, paid for by the queen, to conduct the investigation after it was learned that two senior staff members claimed they had been bullied by Meghan, according to the Times. Another former employee said they had been “humiliated” and claimed two members of staff had been bullied. One aide claimed it felt “more like emotional cruelty and manipulation, which I guess could also be called bullying.”
The couple’s communications secretary, Jason Knauf, made a formal complaint in 2018 to the now Cabinet Secretary Simon Case — then Prince William’s private secretary — describing the situation as “very serious” and saying: “The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights (and) I remain concerned that nothing will be done.”
Meghan, who now lives in California, vehemently denied the allegations, which the Times first reported days ahead of the Sussexes’ March 7, 2021 interview with Winfrey. Meghan’s lawyers called the Times report a “calculated smear campaign” ahead of the interview and said Buckingham Palace was using the media to peddle “a wholly false narrative” about the duchess.
To Meghan’s supporters, the palace’s decision to keep its findings quiet means that Meghan was found not guilty of any wrongdoing but that the palace was “too embarrassed to admit nothing was found,” as Christopher Bouzy tweeted. He’s the founder of Bot Sentinel, the online platform that monitors social media activity and that has investigated social media attacks on Meghan and Harry.
This view was echoed by someone else on social media, according to Newsweek. “The RF wants to bury an investigation that was launched to smear Meghan Markle before the Oprah interview. Besides the PR blunder that was, you don’t think they would use it to bash her if something was there?”
Activist and self-described social media influencer Tshweu Moleme also shared the hashtag #RoyalFamilyLied and said it wasn’t fair for Meghan to have the report “buried,” after “so many attempts to bury her name and reputation.” He added, “In fact, she was bullied for months. Let her see the report.”
But as others pointed out, the inquiry may in fact have found damaging evidence against Meghan, but the queen stepped in and said she wanted to put the matter to bed, for everyone’s sake, TMZ speculated. Critics of Meghan and Harry also said the couple engaged in their own smear campaign by alleging to Winfrey that someone in the royal family was racist, but not saying who that person was, thereby tarnishing the entire family.
Sam Leith, a columnist for The Spectator, said that “a fearless truth-teller” such as Meghan should herself demand that the results be released to the public — unless she knows it won’t be favorable to her. He said the public already knows that an investigation into her behavior “has been, humiliatingly, conducted. And the public knows that something that the investigation turned up has necessitated changes to the palace’s HR policy.”
Leith agreed that the palace’s refusal to release the report continues to leave her reputation “at the mercy of speculation and innuendo.” He said, “If the palace wishes to do right by its own staff and by Prince Harry and his wife, it must make the findings of its investigation public.”
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