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The Queen ‘feels there is enough drama around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’ and wanted the Duchess’ bullying probe to be handled privately so that ‘a line’ could be drawn, a royal expert has claimed.
The Queen announced the probe last year after sensational claims emerged 15 months ago following complaints by staff during a ‘toxic period’ before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex emigrated to California in early 2020.
‘Broken’ royal aides told of feeling humiliated, ‘sick’, ‘terrified’, left ‘shaking’ with fear, and being reduced to tears. Meghan was accused of having inflicted ’emotional cruelty’ on her staff and ‘drove them out’. One branded the Sussexes ‘outrageous bullies’.
Lawyers for the Sussexes vehemently denied the couple bullied or mistreated staff allegedly between late 2018 and early 2020. Meghan then accused the Royal Family of ‘perpetuating falsehoods’ about her and Harry in their interview with Oprah Winfrey that was released hours after the allegations emerged in March 2021.
The Queen’s aides confirmed Buckingham Palace yesterday had ‘revised’ its HR policies in the wake of the probe – but will not release the final report.
A palace insider told Vanity Fair’s Katie Nicholl the Queen wanted the inquiry to be handled privately to avoid further drama to the royal family’s public image, adding: ‘The queen feels there has been enough drama around the Sussexes, and she wants a line to be drawn.’
The Queen ‘feels there is enough drama around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’ and wanted the Duchess’ bullying probe to be handled privately so that ‘a line’ could be drawn, a royal expert has revealed
Calling the decision ‘damage litigation’, they said the choice was done to ‘protect the royal family’ as well as the Duchess of Sussex.
It comes after royal commentator and author Richard Fitzwilliams said Buckingham Palace’s decision not to publish the bombshell investigation into allegations of bullying by Meghan is an ‘olive branch’ to the Sussexes.
He claimed the royal household may hope that the couple could ‘reciprocate in kind’ when it comes to Harry’s upcoming memoirs and rumours of another sit-down with Oprah Winfrey.
Mr Fitzwilliams claims that publishing the findings would have had an ‘incendiary’ impact on the already strained relations between the households in London and LA – and may even have led to a legal challenge.
A palace insider told Vanity Fair ‘s Katie Nicholl the Queen wanted the inquiry to be handled privately to avoid further drama to the royal family’s public image
He said: ‘The Palace, faced with the possibility of a memoir by Harry later this year and who knows what else if the Sussexes, as budding philanthropists, were antagonised, has simply closed it down. This is obviously an olive branch to the Sussexes too’.
And amid claims it will cause anguish for the aides who claimed they were bullied, he added: ‘This is not a monument to transparency and those involved may well feel hard done by, especially considering the allegations that Meghan ill-treated staff’.
A number of those aides who worked for the Sussexes were interviewed as part of the probe by a third party law firm. But today palace officials would confirm only that their investigation had concluded and ‘recommendations on our policy and procedures’ had been taken forward.
And amid a veil of secrecy over the probe, it is said that those who took part in the inquiry haven’t been told what the outcome is. Meghan and Harry were reportedly not interviewed over the allegations.
How the 2021 allegations unfolded with a statement from the Duchess of Sussex at the time saying it was a ‘calculated smear campaign’. Harry and Meghan were reportedly not interviewed as part of the probe
One source said: ‘People suspected it would be buried, and now it seems that it has. Considering those who participated did so at great personal and reputational risk to themselves, the fact that they haven’t even been told what the findings are is unfathomable.
‘I am sure they will be deeply distressed, but perhaps not entirely surprised given how things have been handled. The household seems to be terrified of upsetting or provoking Harry and Meghan.’
Another insider critical of the probe, and the decision not to publish, declared: ‘What was the point?’.
A spokesman for the Sussexes did not respond when asked to comment – nor did they respond to claims that the couple’s lawyers had been in touch with the palace throughout the process. It is also not known if Harry’s brother William and his wife Kate were asked to give evidence, because several of the aides at the centre of the row were shared between the Sussexes and the Cambridges.
Lawyers for the Sussexes vehemently denied the couple bullied or mistreated staff allegedly between late 2018 and early 2020. Meghan then accused the Royal Family of ‘perpetuating falsehoods’ about her and Harry in their interview with Oprah
Royal aides announced in March last year that they were launching an inquiry into claims that Meghan’s ‘belittling’ behaviour while a working member of the Royal Family drove two female 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’ – with some likening their condition to having post-traumatic stress.
The Royal Household employed a third-party law firm, paid for by the family privately, to probe the claims in a move that some predicted could increase tensions between Harry and Meghan and ‘the institution’.
The allegations have always been strongly denied by the duchess, whose lawyers described them at the time as a ‘calculated smear campaign’. They did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
The insider said the monarch is keen to keep the inquiry private to protect The Firm’s public image
Last year a palace spokesman made clear that the specifics of the allegations – which were brought to the attention of senior household staff at the time by Harry and Meghan’s concerned press secretary, Jason Knauf – would not be probed.
But they said they would investigate how the ‘historic allegations of bullying’ were handled by officials and whether any changes to their HR policies and procedures should be instigated as a result
The Master of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, said of the investigation yesterday: ‘There is nothing on this in the report. As we said last year, this work was undertaken privately and had no Sovereign Grant money spent on it.
‘The review has been completed and recommendations on our (HR) policy and procedures have been taken forward. But we will not be commenting further.’
The Mail understands that although the review was concluded several months ago, the tiny handful of former royal staff invited to take part only recently discovered it had been wound up.