The row over allegations that Meghan Markle bullied members of staff when she was a working member of the royal family—furiously denied by Meghan as a “smear campaign” at the time—descended into farce Thursday, after Buckingham Palace confirmed rumors that it would not publish a report it commissioned into the matter, not allow those who gave evidence to the report to see it, and not make public any changes to palace HR policy resulting from the report.
A source said the palace would not be commenting further but told The Daily Beast: “Recommendations will be taken forward,” adding, “Lessons have been learned.”
The palace told The Telegraph they were drawing the veil of secrecy to protect the “confidentiality” of, among others, those who gave evidence in the report, however there was widespread suspicion Thursday that the palace was actually acting to avoid antagonizing Harry and Meghan.
The couple still have the power to inflict tremendous reputational damage on the royals. Harry has a memoir scheduled to come out in the autumn and they have been seen with Oprah Winfrey in recent days, prompting fears the couple could be planning another sitdown.
The bullying allegations were made by Meghan and Harry’s communications director Jason Knauf in 2018, who wrote to their private secretary, alleging “totally unacceptable” behavior and claiming “that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year.”
However the claims only surfaced in The Times days before Harry and Meghan’s big interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which they accused a royal family member of racism. The move was widely seen as an “oppo dump” by the palace intended to blunt or distract from the impact of Harry and Meghan’s revelations.
The couple denied the allegations, saying Meghan was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself.”
Buckingham Palace vowed to investigate the allegations but the Daily Mail reports that at a briefing Wednesday for the annual royal financial report it was revealed the findings would never be published, with the so-called Master of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, saying of the investigation: “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 Mail said that staff who participated in the inquiry “only recently discovered it had been wound up” and “will not be told what its findings are.”
A source told the Mail: “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.”
The revelation about the investigation being buried emerged as the annual report into the Sovereign Grant was published. It showed that the queen’s total annual expenditure increased by 17 per cent to £102.4 million ($122 million) during 2021/22, and that the property maintenance budget soared by £14.4 million ($17.26 million) to £63.9 million ($76.2 million), largely driven by extensive renovations at Buckingham Palace.