I love it when Omid Scobie gets the tea. While I have had moments of stomach-churning agony on behalf of what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are dealing with right now, the situation this week is a lot better for them than the situation in 2018-19, before they sought and found their freedom. These days, they have the freedom to clapback on all of the bullsh-t in the same newscycle, and it makes a world of difference. While the “Meghan is a bully!” story got widespread play, so did Meghan and Harry’s statement about the very obvious and calculated smear campaign. Direct denials are not the only tool at their disposal. They can also chat – or authorize their people to chat – with Scobie or any journalist they want. Which is what happened – you can read the full Harper’s Bazaar piece here. Some highlights:
The Sussexes were expecting something: The couple had been expecting reaction from the palace [before the Oprah interview]. But when the Duchess of Sussex was informed by her team on Friday, February 26, that a small group of royal aides—past and present—had contributed to a “takedown” of her character in a British newspaper, including accusations of bullying and emotional cruelty toward staff, she was speechless, sources say. “Harry and Meghan knew that it would get ugly in the run up [to the Oprah special], but seeing such an obvious attempt at destroying her character was distressing and upsetting,” a friend of the couple tells BAZAAR.com.
Of course those white folks couldn’t handle taking orders from a Black woman: A close friend of the duchess—who speaks on the condition of anonymity—shares their own take on the situation, telling BAZAAR, “I hate to say it, but find me a woman of color in a senior position who has not been accused of being too angry, too scary, too whatever in the workplace. It’s sad that it’s happening, but I’m not surprised. These claims are so far from the woman I know.”
Very curious detail: Though the Times article does not include any examples or details of the alleged bullying, the newspaper does share the feelings of two palace aides—who during moments said they felt “terrified” and “broken” while working for the duchess. However, missing from the paper’s report is the detail that neither staff member made complaints of their own or were aware that Knauf had sent an email to HR citing grievances. “When it became known to [the two individuals], they each asked for the matter to be rescinded and for it to not become an official complaint,” a source tells BAZAAR.com. (Reports that Prince Harry tried to intervene have been denied by the couple’s lawyers.)
The curious case of Melissa Toubati: One of those employees, personal assistant Melissa Toubati, left Kensington Palace in October 2018 after reportedly being “driven to tears,” according to British tabloid reports at the time. An aide anonymously defended the abrupt departure, quickly giving a glowing account of her tenure to the Daily Mail. However, it later emerged in court documents during Meghan’s privacy case against The Mail on Sunday that Toubati had, in fact, been dismissed from her role by the couple due to misconduct (the details of which are known to this author but cannot be repeated for legal reasons). In the Sussex biography, Finding Freedom, sources revealed that it was Knauf’s longtime friendship with Toubati that had led the Sussexes to believe that certain staff, including their own press secretary, were “more interested in protecting one of their own than [Meghan].”
No one ever directly approached Meghan about the “bullying”: One of Meghan’s friends, who has known her for 10 years, adds, “I know that Meg would feel awful if she knew that someone felt that way about working with her, but I also know that no one ever approached her about anything like this at all during that time. I have never known her to be anything but kind and considerate to her friends and colleagues.”
The Sussexes will share their truth: “They have had everything and the kitchen sink thrown at them this week, but ultimately nothing will stop them from sharing their truth.”
Yeah, of course Knauf is compromised, as are many members of the Kensington Palace staff. William’s former private secretary was caught up in a bribery scheme involving his lover and Dan Wootton, for goodness sake. As for Toubati being fired for cause… that’s interesting, as is the detail about how the people who “complained” to Knauf ended up rescinding their complaints and not wanting to formalize them at all. I mean, I don’t even care at this point. I don’t even need Meghan or her friends to do a line-by-line denial. It’s really obvious what Kensington Palace was trying to do.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.