Meghan Markle's Lawyer Denies Bullying Accusation From Era of Palace Leaks

Meghan Markle's lawyer told a new documentary that allegations her staff were forced out of Kensington Palace are "just not true."

Jenny Afia, of law firm Schillings, told the BBC she was speaking out with the permission of the Duchess of Sussex to dispute the account of Meghan's time as a working royal.

It comes after her former communications secretary Jason Knauf emailed a superior in October 2018 to say Meghan had bullied two PAs out of the royal household.

In December that year, U.K. broadsheet The Sunday Times ran a headline describing Meghan as "Duchess Difficult" and saying palace staff felt she was a demanding boss.

The article contained quotes from an unnamed source but Knauf's email remained secret.

Afia told the new documentary The Princes and the Press: "Those stories were false."

She added: "This narrative that no one could work for the Duchess of Sussex, that she was too difficult, demanding a boss and that everyone had to leave is just not true."

The allegations flared again in March 2021, days before Meghan and Prince Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey was due to air on CBS.

Knauf's 2018 email was leaked to the U.K. broadsheet The Times and described how he had concerns for a third member of staff.

It 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 removed] 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]."

Journalists who spoke to the new BBC documentary described how suggestions about Meghan's relationship with palace staff had been circulating for months but for a long time, most news organizations did not publish them.

Omid Scobie, the co-author of biography Finding Freedom, added: "There's been rumor for quite some time that a lot of the most damaging and negative stories about Harry and Meghan that have ended up in the pages of the press have come from other royal households or from other royal aides or courtiers and from my own reporting and research that is exactly true."

Richard Palmer, the royal correspondent for The Daily Express, told the documentary: "I think even people who were working on their behalf just found them increasingly difficult to deal with. I think at the best of times the palace is a nest of vipers and there's always a bit of backbiting going on."

Royal author Anna Pasternak said: "They are people who either work or who have left the employ of the palace, of the press officers of the palace of courtiers. So one of my sources was an ex-courtier who worked at Buckingham Palace, who had left, who spoke to me."

A joint statement by Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House read: "A free, responsible and open Press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy.

"However, too often overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility."

The bullying allegations also intersect with the account Meghan and Harry gave Oprah on CBS in March.

The prince described how the atmosphere changed after the couple returned from their tour of Australia and the South Pacific, in October 2018.

It was on their return that Knauf sent the bullying accusation email and U.K. newspapers, including The Times, have reported that there were tensions on the tour.

However, Harry told Oprah: "But it really changed after the Australia tour, after our South Pacific tour."

He added: "It was also the first time that the family got to see how incredible she is at the job. And that brought back memories."

Oprah linked his comment to suggestions in the Netflix series The Crown that Charles had become jealous of Diana after seeing how popular she was on a tour of Australia.

The couple did not reference the bullying accusations in their account of how the atmosphere changed.

Meghan Markle Visits New Zealand
Meghan Markle, pictured at the National War Memorial alongside Prince Harry, in Wellington, New Zealand, on October 28, 2018, during the couple's tour of the South Pacific. Aide Jason Knauf accused her of bullying in an email shortly after their return. Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage