Behind the scenes

Meghan Markle bullying report: why the palace is staying ‘tight-lipped’

Buckingham Palace sparks ‘secrecy row’ over Duchess of Sussex inquiry

A report into the handling of bullying allegations made against Meghan Markle will not see the “light of day” after Buckingham Palace refused to publish it.

Even those who participated in the official investigation, carried out by an independent legal firm, will be “kept in the dark about its findings”, said The Telegraph.

The decision leaves the palace embroiled in a “secrecy row” and raises “serious questions about transparency at the publicly funded institution and its responsibility towards members of staff”, said the paper.

No comment

An independent review was launched in March 2021 after some members of staff claimed they had been bullied by the Duchess of Sussex before she quit her royal duties in January 2020. 

Current and former staff were quizzed about their experiences of working with her, said ITV News. It added that Markle, who has denied the accusations, is understood to have also submitted a response to the inquiry. A spokesperson for the duchess has previously called the claims a “calculated smear campaign”.

Reporters were told that the inquiry had been completed this week during a press conference on the Royal Family’s annual financial statement, known as the Sovereign Grant.

Michael Stevens, keeper of the Privy Purse, said recommendations made by the inquiry for the palace’s “policies and procedures have been taken forward”, but he added: “We will not be commenting further.”

Avoiding confrontation

“There was a belief that at least some of it would see the light of day,” said the BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond. But, in fact, “the whole thing is now going to be kept within the palace walls”.

Dymond told Radio 4’s Today programme that royal sources were “busily” telling reporters that the inquiry was paid for with private rather than taxpayer money and that it involves what he described as “highly confidential material that would embarrass individuals if they were named”.

One “senior royal source said the palace is staying tight-lipped about the investigation to protect the anonymity of those who cooperated”, added CNN.

The palace claimed “lessons have been learnt”, said The Times, but “refused to say what those lessons were”. The newspaper said there had been speculation that “the palace’s main concern was to avoid risking further confrontation with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex”.

Limiting drama

The bullying allegations were first made in October 2018 when the couple’s former communications secretary Jason Knauf submitted an official complaint via email accusing Markle of driving out two personal assistants.

The email “remained secret for more than two years”, said Newsweek. It wasn’t until days before the duke and duchess’s “bombshell tell-all interview” with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast in March 2021 that it was leaked to The Times.

Katie Nicholl, Entertainment Tonight’s royal expert, suggested that not making the inquiry’s findings public was “a case of keeping a really very inflammatory story under the radar”, as well as trying to “preserve the integrity of those staff, of the Duchess of Sussex and indeed of the reputation of the monarchy”.

The Queen “doesn’t want any more drama”, she said, or “any more dirty linens aired in public”.

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