I’ve been trying to prepare myself for this week and next week, all around the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Oprah interview. I was here for the smear campaign of late 2018. I was here for the exile attempts of 2019. I was here when Kensington Palace furiously threw the Sussexes under the bus to deflect from Prince William’s alleged affair with Rose Hanbury. I was here for the Sussexit meltdown. I was here for the Finding Freedom chaos. And it’s only now that I realize the absolute depths of pathetic gaslighting and victim-blaming the House of Windsor will get up to. The Times of London has dropped an exclusive story about how Meghan is – wait for it – a bully herself. These people can’t let it go, the fact that they harassed, undermined, abused, threatened and smeared this woman and she got away. So now they’re saying that she mistreated – “bullied” – palace staffers behind the scenes.
Royal aides have hit back at the Duchess of Sussex before her television interview with Oprah Winfrey by revealing that she faced a bullying complaint made by one of her closest advisers during her time at Kensington Palace. The sources approached The Times because they felt that only a partial version had emerged of Meghan’s two years as a working member of the royal family and they wished to tell their side, concerned about how such matters are handled by the palace. The complaint claimed that she drove two personal assistants out of the household and was undermining the confidence of a third staff member.
It was made in October 2018 by Jason Knauf, the couple’s communications secretary at the time, seemingly in an effort to get Buckingham Palace to protect staff who he claimed were coming under pressure from the duchess. Prince Harry pleaded with Knauf not to pursue it, according to a source. The Times was approached by sources who stated that they wanted to give their account of the turmoil within the royal household from Meghan’s arrival as Harry’s girlfriend in 2017 to the couple’s decision to stand down as working royals last year.
Knauf sent an email to Simon Case, then the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary and now the cabinet secretary, after conversations with Samantha Carruthers, the head of HR. Case then forwarded it to Carruthers, who was based at Clarence House. In his email Knauf said Carruthers “agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious”. He added: “I remain concerned that nothing will be done.”
Sources say they were concerned that nothing was done at the time to investigate the situation, and nothing done since to protect staff against the possibility of bullying by a member of the royal family. Aides also insist that behind the scenes they did more to welcome Meghan and help her to find a role than has been publicly acknowledged. They believe the public should have insight into their side of the story before watching the couple’s much-publicised interview with Winfrey, due to be televised in the United States on Sunday.
My first reaction is surprise… surprise that Kensington Palace didn’t try this before now. We know that one of Kensington Palace’s favorite narratives is “Meghan made white women cry!” And whenever anyone asks for specifics, none are given. We’re just supposed to take it on faith that Meghan is a racist and sexist trope: the angry, strident, mean black woman who makes white women cry. Listen to the vague claims with zero context:
The sources have revealed a febrile atmosphere within Kensington Palace, where Meghan and Harry lived alongside the Cambridges after their wedding until the split between the two households at the beginning of 2019. Staff would on occasion be reduced to tears; one aide, anticipating a confrontation with Meghan, told a colleague: “I can’t stop shaking.”
Two senior members of staff have claimed that they were bullied by the duchess. Another former employee told The Times they had been personally “humiliated” by her and claimed that two members of staff had been bullied. Another aide claimed it felt “more like emotional cruelty and manipulation, which I guess could also be called bullying”.
Knauf wrote in his email: “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* was totally unacceptable.” He added: “The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying Y and seeking to undermine her confidence. We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behaviour towards Y.”
The email, which also expressed concern about the stress being experienced by Samantha Cohen, the couple’s private secretary, concluded: “I questioned if the Household policy on bullying and harassment applies to principals.” The complaint was sent to the HR department. However, one source said: “I think the problem is, not much happened with it. It was, ‘How can we make this go away?’, rather than addressing it.”
After Harry was told about the complaint a source insists he had a meeting with Knauf in which he begged him not to pursue it. Lawyers for the duke and duchess deny that any meeting took place or that the duke would have interfered with any staff matter Another source claimed: “Senior people in the household, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, knew that they had a situation where members of staff, particularly young women, were being bullied to the point of tears. The institution just protected Meghan constantly. All the men in grey suits who she hates have a lot to answer for, because they did absolutely nothing to protect people.”
“Seeking to undermine her confidence…” I absolutely knew that Meghan’s American perspective and American work ethic was seen as a bad thing by those lazy, shifty, asinine palace aides. I remember all those stories as they were happening. Aides were completely freaked out that Meghan wanted them to… work. That she wanted them to do their f–king jobs. That she expected them to do their assigned tasks in a timely manner. There’s a difference between “my boss is telling me that my work isn’t up to her standards” versus “my boss is bullying me.” Which is it? You know what I think. Plus, you absolutely cannot underestimate how many of these palace aides were not only lazy and stupid – many of them simply could not fathom taking orders from a Black American woman. This too reads like yet another version of “Meghan made a white woman cry!” At least it wasn’t because of a fakakta tiara or children’s tights. Here’s the Sussexes’ response, which was printed within the Times’ story:
The spokesman for the Sussexes said in a statement: “Let’s just call this what it is — a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation. 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.
“In a detailed legal letter of rebuttal to The Times, we have addressed these defamatory claims in full, including spurious allegations regarding the use of gifts loaned to The Duchess by The Crown. 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. 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.”
The thing about gifts is a separate thing and I’ll cover it in another post. And yes, this is yet another calculated smear campaign. And this one – like several of the past smear campaigns – is coming right out of Kensington Palace. Keen Kate and Willileaks just had to sign their names to this one. This is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge terrified about what Meghan and Harry will say in the Oprah interview. And it’s shocking to me that Will, Kate and Jason Knauf would orchestrate this petty smear campaign while Philip is in the hospital!!
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