Buckingham Palace officials confirmed on Thursday that they will not be releasing a report that was commissioned last year in the wake of allegations that Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex (aka Meghan Markle), bullied staffers while she was a working member of the royal family.
“The review of the handling of historic bullying allegations was aimed at enabling the Royal Households to consider potential improvements to HR policies and procedures,” a Palace spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “The review has been completed, and recommendations on our policies and procedures have been taken forward.”
The official statement makes clear that the report was not investigating whether or not Meghan bullied Palace employees; it was a review of how the Palace responded to bullying complaints when they were made.
In a Wednesday briefing about the annual publication of the royal financial records, a royal source speaking on the condition of anonymity told members of the press that the report was not being released to protect the privacy of those who participated in the inquiry.
“Because of the confidentiality of the discussions we have not communicated the detailed recommendations,” he said, according to a Washington Post report. “I think the objectives have been satisfied because lessons have been learned.”
The royal source also said that the investigation into how the bullying allegations were handled was privately funded by the royal family and did not use taxpayer money.
A spokesperson for Meghan and her husband Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, declined to comment.
So how did we get here?
Allegations about Meghan being a bully were made in two stories published by the Sunday Times on March 2, 2021 — five days before the couple’s first interview since leaving the royal family, conducted by Oprah Winfrey, was set to air. The stories quoted a number of current and former employees who claimed Meghan had “humiliated” them, accusing her of “emotional cruelty and manipulation.”
The most important — and relevant to current events — detail published in the Times was a formal HR complaint about Meghan’s behavior made by Jason Knauf, the couple’s then-communications secretary, in October 2018. “I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year,” Knauf reportedly wrote in the complaint. He described her treatment of one unnamed former employee as “totally unacceptable.”
“The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying [unnamed employee] and seeking to undermine her confidence. We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behavior towards [unnamed employee],” he reportedly wrote in the HR complaint.
Knauf referenced past conversations he’d had about this issue with Samantha Carruthers, the head of Palace HR, and wrote that she “agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious.” He expressed concern “that nothing will be done” and asked if the “[Royal] Household policy on bullying and harassment” applied to members of the royal family.
Following the publication of the Times article, Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying that it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations and were launching an investigation into them.
“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 statement said.
Meghan’s spokesperson and lawyers denied any wrongdoing on the duchess’s part at the time, and issued a fiery response to the Times’ allegations, accusing the paper of “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative” about Meghan. “Let’s just call this what it is — a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation,” the Sussexes’ spokesperson then said in a statement to the Times. The spokesperson said that it was “no coincidence” that “several-year-old accusations aimed at undermining the duchess” had appeared in the British media less than a week before the airing of the Oprah Winfrey interview.
“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 spokesperson said.