Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were worried about the impact of the bullying allegations lobbed at her by a British newspaper just days before the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, but ultimately concluded that the efforts to “undermine” Meghan by shadowy figures at the palace showed how right they had been to leave the royals behind.
The claim is made in a new edition of Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand’s book Finding Freedom which comes out next week. The book has been the subject of intense speculation due to the authors’ perceived closeness to Meghan and Harry. The couple has denied co-operating with the authors, despite the fact that the book shares detailed descriptions of their private moments and thoughts.
In an account of the new chapter published by British newspaper the Independent, it’s reported that the book delves into the Sussexes’ reaction to a series of articles published in The Times of London days before the Oprah interview, which said a senior palace staffer had alleged in 2018 that Meghan bullied her staff, several of whom allegedly left their jobs, were reduced to tears or felt “humiliated” by Meghan’s actions.
Meghan denied the allegations at the time, dismissing them as a smear campaign against her, and saying she was “deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.”
The timing of the leak led many seasoned observers of royal intrigue to view it as a classic “oppo dump.” Indeed, the reporter who broke the story, Valentine Low, said he’d been passed the material by sources who “felt that only a partial version had emerged of Meghan’s two years as a working member of the royal family” and who believed that “the public should have insight into their side of the story before watching the couple’s much-publicized interview with Winfrey.”
The Independent reports that the story rattled Meghan and Harry, with Scobie and Durand writing: “Though the duchess was used to defamatory reports, this front-page story was more worrying.” A source described as a friend of the couple is quoted as saying: “It felt like certain individuals at the Palace were doing their very best to undermine and discredit anything they worried the couple may or may not say during the interview.”
The Independent adds that ultimately, however, “the allegations gave the Sussexes more confidence in their decision to leave the royal family.”
Another flashpoint in the Sussexes' relationship with the royals is explored in the telling of the Sussex side of events around Veterans’ Day 2020. Harry, the authors write, was denied a request to have a wreath laid on his behalf at Britain’s main war memorial.
The authors write that a red poppy wreath Harry had specially ordered for the event “remained in its box at the charity’s headquarters in Kent.” Scobie and Durand claim that Harry’s wreath was not laid at the public ceremony because he was no longer a “frontline royal.”
A “close source” allegedly said Harry was “saddened and disappointed by the decision”. The Independent reports that the source added: “Ten years of service and a lifetime commitment to the military community and this is how it’s been acknowledged by his family.”
The newspaper also has more on the most damaging allegation made in the interview—that Meghan and Harry were asked racist questions about the likely skin colour of any of their children.
William, the authors report, “was understood to be ‘furious’ that private family matters were being discussed in the public domain” and is unlikely to ever comment formally on the claims.
Overall, it seems the couple have no regrets about publicizing their beef with the royals. The interview was a relief for Meghan, a friend of hers told the authors, saying: “All the things she had kept to herself or been too afraid to say, she felt safe to finally share. It was liberating.”
It was reported last week, on the back of an extract of the book published by People magazine, that Meghan and Harry remain disappointed by what they see as the royals’ equivocal response to their claims.