It’s been a week in the royal world. After the first trailer was dropped ahead of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s in-depth interview with Oprah Winfrey (which airs in the States and in the UK next week), allegations emerged about Meghan having been at the centre of a bullying complaint during her time at Kensington Palace.
On Tuesday this week, The Times published a report sourced from palace aides, suggesting that one of the Duchess of Sussex’s former advisors filed a bullying complaint against her while she was a working member of the royal family. Needless to say, Camp Meghan quickly released a rebuttal of the accusations, pointing out that it’s no coincidence that the timing of such claims has come just as she is about to speak out for the first time about her experience in the royal family.
A spokesperson for the Sussexes said:
“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.”
Lawyers for the Sussexes also told the Times it was “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative based on misleading and harmful misinformation.”
So all that happened, but the plot has now thickened further with an uncharacteristic response on the matter from Buckingham Palace, which usually stays quiet on such issues. In a statement, the Palace said they would be investigating the circumstances of allegations, because they are “very concerned” and “will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.”
The royal’s statement in full read:
“We are clearly very concerned about allegations in ‘The Times’ following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article. Members of staff involved at the time, including those who have left the Household, will be invited to participate to see if lessons can be learned.
The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work police in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.”
To say the royal response has been met with rage online is perhaps an understatement. In retaliation, people have been highlighting what they see as a double standard in the way the royal family (and the world in general) have treated Prince Andrew in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations (which he strenuously denies), compared to how they’ve handled Meghan Markle since she withdrew from her duties along with Prince Harry.
Prince Andrew stepped down from being a working royal following his controversial BBC interview about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in November 2019, but he isn’t believed to have been formally stripped of his HRH title in the same way as the Sussexes have. In February 2021, the official royal family Twitter account marked his birthday with a post on the social network.
In widespread suggestion of a double standard, the question, “Has Buckingham Palace launched an investigation into Prince Andrew?” has been a recurring one on Twitter since the statement was released, and ‘Prince Andrew’ is currently trending for this precise reason.
“If you harbour more ill feeling towards Harry and Meghan than Prince Andrew, you need to have a word with yourself,” wrote one person, as a message to all – not just the royals. “If the media and royal family think Meghan’s so bad, just wait till they hear about Prince Andrew,” posted another, sarcastically.
It’s hard not to see a comparison in the treatment – both publicly and within ‘The Firm’ – of Meghan and Harry versus Prince Andrew, especially considering the polar difference in the circumstances upon which they respectively stood down. But with Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview airing in full next week, the couple will get a chance to finally have their say…
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