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Buckingham palace has been accused of ‘trying to bury’ its inquiry into allegations that the Duchess of Sussex bullied her staff. 

It is understood that only ‘four or five’ former members of the Sussexes’ team in total have been spoken to as part of the Royal Household’s official investigation into the claims. 

The couple would have had up to 25 working for them at times – many of whom could be considered potential witnesses. 

But nothing has been heard since last summer by any of those involved in the allegations. 

Just over a year since the inquiry was launched, royal officials have so far refused to divulge any of their findings – or even confirm whether the results of the investigation will be included in this year’s annual review, due to be published in June, as previously suggested. 

One source told the Daily Mail: ‘This should have been an opportunity to do the right thing. Now it looks like they’re going to do nothing instead.’ 

The source added: ‘It has been a very difficult situation for all involved, but the Palace is a very powerful institution and there clearly seems to be a cultural problem of not handling bullying, particularly when you consider some of the allegations about the way Prince Andrew is said to have treated his staff over the years.’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend the Tennis together at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend the Tennis together at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend the Tennis together at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada

The prince has previously been accused of shouting and swearing at staff and making impossible demands of them over many decades. Buckingham Palace refused to comment last night. 

But it is understood that senior officials believe it is unfair to accuse them of burying the inquiry and that they are all too aware that the public scrutiny of the issue will not vanish. 

Palace aides first announced in March last year that they were launching an internal inquiry into claims that Meghan’s behaviour drove two personal assistants out of the household and ‘undermined the confidence’ of a third. 

Staff were said to have been left in tears and feeling ‘traumatised’. 

The allegations have been strongly denied by the duchess and her legal team, who have described them as a ‘calculated smear campaign’. 

They have insinuated that the claims were made public to undermine her reputation ahead of her bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in which she made explosive claims about the Royal Family. 

The Royal Household subsequently employed a law firm to investigate the allegations, paid for by the family privately. 

The allegations centre on an email sent in October 2018, six months after Meghan and Harry married, by Kensington Palace’s then communications secretary, Jason Knauf. 

He wrote to Prince William’s then private secretary Simon Case, who is now the Cabinet Secretary, about her alleged behaviour and asking for protection for the female staff he believed were being targeted. 

Describing Meghan’s behaviour as ‘totally unacceptable’, he wrote: ‘I am concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. 

‘The duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights [and] I remain concerned that nothing will be done.’ 

The email was also forwarded to the human resources department. Other witnesses have since come forward to the media to make similar claims. The duchess’s lawyer has challenged the claims of bullying. 

What was done about the original complaint is now the subject of the inquiry and the Mail has been told that Mr Knauf is one of those who has been spoken to.

Part of the problem is that the Palace has never before had to deal with an official bullying complaint against a member of the Royal

Queen Elizabeth II's private secretary Sir Edward Young

Queen Elizabeth II's private secretary Sir Edward Young

Queen Elizabeth II’s private secretary Sir Edward Young

 Family and so has no precedent on which to act. It also fears that if officials were to investigate the actual detail of the claims about Meghan then they would have her lawyers ‘crawling all over them’. 

This is why the household have settled on a ‘procedural’ investigation: how the complaint was handled at the time and whether there are any lessons that could be learnt from this as part of their HR policy, as opposed to the truth of the claims themselves. 

Critics say this is an unhelpfully narrow scope of inquiry and have questioned what the investigation will actually achieve. 

Just over a year later, and without those interviewed having heard a ‘peep’ for at least six months, critics are now accusing the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young, of ‘burying’ the report amid a ‘wall of silence’.

‘No-one even knows whether they have formally concluded their work, are considering their findings or are just trying to bury it all, which is actually what the consensus seems to think is happening,’ one source told the Mail.

 ‘They haven’t even spoken to everyone who was there at the time and will have witnessed what was said to be happening first hand. It just seems like they wish it would all go away.’ 

Yesterday, Christine Pratt, founder of the National Bullying Helpline voluntary organisation, said that large employers such as Buckingham Palace has as much responsibility to investigate claims of bullying properly as small ones Buckingham Palace had initially planned an internal review investigation led by its own HR department, but later opted to outsource the inquiry to an independent legal firm. 

This is believed to have exacerbated tensions with the Sussexes, who were angry about not being given a say in the process. 

Launching the inquiry last year, the Palace said it would ‘not tolerate bullying and harassment’ and was ‘very concerned by the allegations’. 

But it also made clear the inquiry would be conducted privately – not least because some of those allegedly victimised are said to have suffered from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder – and that the full findings would never be made public. 

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during last year's interview with Oprah Winfrey

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during last year's interview with Oprah Winfrey

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during last year’s interview with Oprah Winfrey

It said that if it was deemed changes need to be made to its HR procedures as a result then they would be published as part of its publicly available annual review. 

Buckingham Palace again refused to comment on any aspect of the investigation this week. 

However, in a statement issued at the time the bullying allegations were first aired last year, the Palace said: ‘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 policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.’ 

The Sussexes have not been invited to take part in the investigation despite having written to the Palace about it. 

But the duchess’s lawyer, Jenny Afia, of Schillings, has previously told the BBC that she believed there were ‘massive inaccuracies’ in the claims. 

She said allegations of bullying made against Meghan do not ‘match my experience of her’ and the term was frequently used to denigrate career women. 

She added that the duchess denied the claims but did not ‘want to negate anyone’s personal experiences’

Source: DailyMail

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