Behind the scenes

Can Harry and Meghan avoid the ‘revenge of the Sussex survivors’?

Palace investigation into bullying claims undermines bid to rebuild royal relations

Hopes of repairing the rift between the Sussexes and “The Firm” are fading fast following the announcement that Buckingham Palace is launching an investigation into claims that Meghan Markle bullied royal staff.

The complaints come from a group in Kensington Palace who “only half-jokingly” refer to themselves as the “Sussex Survivors’ Club”, the Daily Mail reports. The royal aids “worked for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and lived to tell the tale” - and are now out for “revenge”, the paper continues.

Some of the “survivors” reportedly claim to have “a form of post-traumatic stress”, and describe experiences that left them “emotionally broken”.

They describe a working environment that was “toxic, hostile, distrustful, poisonous”, with Prince Harry growing “increasingly hostile to his once-loyal aides”, says the Mail, and “staff driven to tears” by the royal couple’s behaviour.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said it was “very concerned” by the allegations.

The royal household “does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment” and staff members “will be invited to participate” in the internal investigation “to see if lessons can be learned”, the statement said.

The intervention coincides with the release of a new clip from the Sussexes’ upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey.

In the teaser, the duchess says that she and Harry cannot be expected to “just be silent” while the Royal Family takes an “active role” in “perpetuating falsehoods”.

The couple have also pushed back against the bullying allegations, with a spokesperson saying the duchess was “saddened” by the “latest attack on her character”.

Meanwhile, commentators have described the Sussexes’ decision to do the Oprah interview as the “final straw” for the Royal Family

The once-strong bond between Harry and his brother William is “steadily crumbling”, says The Telegraph. “William now rarely talks to his younger brother and is apparently furious and shocked that Harry has snubbed the Queen” by going ahead with the interview while his grandfather, Prince Philip, is in hospital.

The Palace investigation into the bullying claims further “ratchets up the tension - and publicity - around the interview to come in just a few days’ time”, adds BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond.

The Sussex Survivors Club” insist that nobody in The Firm “wanted a battle”, according to the Mail. “But the Sussexes have waged this war and enough is enough.”

Be in no doubt, “the gloves are off”, concludes CBS News. “You could probably only describe that relationship now, between the two sides, as all-out war,” Sunday Times royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah told the broadcaster.

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