Buckingham Palace is reportedly bringing in independent external investigators to probe the allegations of bullying against Meghan Markle by royal staffers.
The palace initially said it was launching its own investigation into the Duchess of Sussex, but has now decided that a third-party law firm should conduct the probe, the Sunday Times of London said in a new report.
The Duchess has been accused of creating a toxic work environment and allegedly reducing aides to tears when she lived at Kensington Palace after marrying Prince Harry in May 2018.
The move to bring in outside investigators is expected to further heighten tensions between the Sussexes and “The Firm,” following the couple’s explosive tell-all with Oprah Winfrey.
In addition, the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are not expected to be invited to take part in the inquiry, which aims to “learn lessons” by taking evidence from past and present employees, The Times said.
Multiple current and former staffers who were prevented from giving evidence in court during Markle’s recent legal case about privacy are expected to speak to the investigators, the outlet added.
Last month, two senior aides alleged they were bullied by Meghan, while another former staffer claimed to have been personally “humiliated” and that two others had been bullied, the paper reported.
Markle denies the allegations, but a royal source told the outlet: “The actual worst incidences haven’t come out. There are some harrowing stories to tell.”
Another palace source told the Sunday Times: “There’s a lot that could come out in the wash that hasn’t been told.”
News of the independent probe emerged as allies of Prince Charles accused Harry of “hypocrisy,” challenging his claim that his dad had “cut him off” financially.
They claim the Prince of Wales was “upset and cut up” about Harry’s remarks during the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah.
“It was a surprise to hear he’d been cut off, given the bank statements. The prince continued to provide Harry and Meghan with financial support after their move to America, while they found their feet,” a source close to Charles told the Sunday Times.
“What f—– hypocrisy. When Harry and Meghan left last year, they wanted to become ‘financially independent,’” a friend of Charles told the outlet.
The bullying complaint against Meghan was first made in October 2018 by Jason Knauf, who was the couple’s communications secretary at the time.
“I am very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year,” Knauf wrote in an email to a senior courtier in which he described her behavior as “totally unacceptable,” the Sunday Times reported.
“The duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights,” he added in the email, which was forwarded to HR but did not progress.
It is understood that the palace is intent on not allowing the inquiry, which will begin imminently, to “be played out in public” to ensure all those taking part “feel comfortable,” according to the report.
A royal source told the paper that the probe “will take as long as it will take.”
A palace spokesman told the Sunday Times: “Our commitment to look into the circumstances around the allegations from former staff of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is being taken forward but we will not be providing a public commentary on it.”
A rep for the Sussexes declined to comment, but when the allegations were first made, lawyers for the duchess said the reports were a “calculated smear campaign.”
In the stunning sit-down with Oprah, Markle revealed her sister-in-law, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, made her cry before her wedding, she didn’t receive help transitioning into royal life and that someone in the royal family raised concerns about “how dark” baby Archie would be when he was born, among other bombshell allegations.