How Meghan Markle Palace Bullying Inquiry Could Overshadow Queen's Jubilee

Meghan Markle was the subject of a Buckingham Palace inquiry a year ago into allegations she bullied her staff but no findings have yet been revealed.

The Duchess of Sussex was accused of treating one employee in a "totally unacceptable" way and of undermining another's confidence. She has always denied bullying.

A bombshell 2018 email containing allegations of bullying was leaked to U.K. newspaper The Times days before Meghan and Prince Harry's Oprah Winfrey interview was due to air last year.

In the aftermath, Buckingham Palace announced its HR department would "look into" the accusations on March 3, 2021, with findings expected to be published in the Sovereign Grant report, an annual document which covers royal finances.

The palace said it would not rush the probe and it was not ready at the time of last year's report, meaning it could be contained in this year's.

The timing, however, may be awkward as it ordinarily comes towards the end of June, the same month Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations will take place over four days.

A military parade, a pageant and star studded concert at the palace will be just a few of the events celebrating her 70 years on the throne from June 2 to June 5.

Meghan and Harry will likely be invited to join the festivities, though they may choose not to attend amid an ongoing dispute over a decision to remove their police protection while in Britain.

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It is unclear whether the review will make any criticisms of Meghan. However, if it does and those findings become public, it will likely reignite tensions between the couple and the palace.

Meghan and Harry may well want to respond to the conclusions even as the royals are at the peak of a wave of positive publicity off the back of the pageantry of the jubilee.

However, royal expert Peter Hunt, a former BBC royal correspondent, suggested the review may even have been shelved for reputational reasons.

He wrote on Twitter: "One year on, the 'long grass' at Buckingham Palace is proving helpful."

The palace's HR department was initially tasked with running the review but an outside legal firm was later called in.

The saga was triggered by the publication in The Times of an email sent by then Kensington Palace press secretary Jason Knauf to Prince William's private secretary. Prince Harry and Meghan used to be based at Kensington Palace.

The email read: "I am very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The treatment of X [name redacted] was totally unacceptable."

He added: "The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights.

"She is bullying Y [name removed] and seeking to undermine her confidence.

"We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behavior towards Y [name removed]."

Meghan and Harry's spokesperson initially came back strongly, denouncing the account as a smear in March 2021.

Jenny Afia, an attorney for the duchess, in November maintained Meghan had not bullied her staff but appeared to soften the stance a little in comments on a BBC documentary The Princes and the Press.

She said: "The overall allegation was that the Duchess of Sussex was guilty of bullying. Absolutely not."

She added: "That said, she wouldn't want to negate anyone's personal experiences."

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said in March 2021: "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."

Buckingham Palace declined comment on the bullying review on Thursday.

Meghan Markle in Australia
Meghan Markle attends a reception at Admiralty House in Sydney on October 16, 2018, shortly before an aide accused her of bullying two PAs. A palace review of the allegations is yet to report its findings. STEVE CHRISTO/AFP via Getty Images