Buckingham Palace has effectively buried a report on allegations of bullying by the Duchess of Sussex.
Royal aides yesterday admitted for the first time that the results will never be released.
A source said last night: “People suspected it would be buried and now it appears so.” The Daily Mail understands that even those who took part in the investigation were not informed of the outcome.
Palace officials would only confirm that their investigation had been completed and “recommendations regarding our policies and procedures” had been made.
Royal aides announced in March last year that they would launch an inquiry into allegations that Meghan’s “disparaging” behavior while a working member of the royal family drove two female personal assistants out of the household and “undermined the trust” of a third.
Controversial: Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in last year’s interview with Oprah Winfrey
Staff are said to have been left in tears and feeling “traumatized” – some likening their condition to post-traumatic stress.
The royal household hired an outside law firm, paid privately by the family, to look into the claims in a move some predicted could increase tensions between Harry and Meghan and “the institution”.
The allegations have always been firmly denied by the Duchess, whose lawyers called them a “calculated smear campaign”. They did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Last year, a palace spokesman made it clear that the details of the allegations – brought to the attention of senior household officials at the time by Harry and Meghan’s concerned press secretary Jason Knauf – would not be investigated.
But they said they were investigating how officials’ “historic allegations of bullying” were being handled and whether changes to their staff policies and procedures should be prompted as a result.
A spokesman confirmed that “if” these findings were released, they would be included in this year’s Sovereign Grant Report – the official annual review of the Queen’s public finances and the running of her household.
But in announcing the report yesterday, her Master of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, said of the inquiry: “There is nothing in the report about that. As we said last year, this work has been done privately and no money from Sovereign Grants has been spent on it.
Buckingham Palace has effectively buried a report of bullying allegations by the Duchess of Sussex (seen with Harry at Kensington Palace)
“The review has been completed and recommendations on our (HR) policies and procedures have been implemented. But we will not comment further.’
The Mail understands that although the review was completed a few months ago, the small handful of former royal staff who were invited to take part only recently discovered it was complete.
And they are not informed of what their findings are or what changes have been made to HR processes as a result.
“Considering that the participants did so at great personal and reputational risk to themselves, the fact that they weren’t even told what the results were is unfathomable,” said a source with knowledge of the process.
“I am sure they will be deeply disturbed but perhaps not entirely surprised given the way things have been handled. The household seems afraid of upsetting or provoking Harry and Meghan.
The issue was raised during a briefing on the Sovereign Grant, which showed:
- The Queen’s annual spending rose 17 per cent to £102.4million in 2021/22, forcing officials to dive into savings;
- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now ‘financially independent’, with royal sources saying it is a ‘great credit’ to them;
- Sources said Prince Charles would never accept suitcases filled with cash again after a row over donations to charity;
- The most expensive royal trip last year was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s flights to the Caribbean, costing £226,000;
- Officials insisted they would keep the royal train despite being used just six times last year at an average cost of £34,307;
- Property maintenance rose by £14.4m to £63.9m as the ten-year Buckingham Palace refurbishment project reaches a crucial stage.
Reports of Meghan’s alleged bullying from staff surfaced just before her explosive Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry earlier last year. The palace said it takes such claims seriously and promised to investigate.
The allegations have always been firmly denied by the Duchess, whose lawyers called them a “calculated smear campaign”. They did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. Pictured: Attorney Jenny Afia speaking about the documentary The Princes And The Press
Last year, however, the Mail noted that only a tiny number of royal employees – both past and present – had been spoken to and that staff feared they were already “stepped in the long grass”. Respondents included two of Meghan’s former personal assistants, another senior aide and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who was then working as Prince William’s private secretary.
Asked yesterday why the report of alleged bullying had not even been circulated privately, a senior royal aide claimed: “One has to recognize that staff matters involving individuals are private and the people who took part in the review , have a right to this confidentiality.
“Where there were improvements that needed to be made to policies and procedures, they were implemented. And those who participated in the review were informed that the review is complete and has recommendations. Due to the confidentiality of the discussions, we have not communicated the detailed recommendations.’
Palace prioritized peace regardless of the cost to its staff
Analysis by Rebecca English Royal Editor
Allegations that the Duchess of Sussex has been systematically assaulting and bullying female staff have been deeply troubling – and problematic – for the royal family since they aired early last year.
It was the first time a member of the royal family had been the subject of a formal complaint to management about his alleged conduct – and there was no formal staff policy to deal with it.
The fact that the allegations had first been raised three years earlier, with no apparent action being taken, also uncomfortably underscored the depth of the Palace’s paralysis on the issue.
The delicate situation was further aggravated by the state of relations between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the royal family.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leave the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral during the Platinum Jubilee earlier this month
After their acrimonious departure as working royals and explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Palace officials were simply unable to predict how this most defensive of couples would react. Because of this, they have decided to focus their investigations on how the allegations against Meghan were dealt with rather than the content of the claims themselves, the truth or falsity of which has not been objectively established.
It appeared to be an orderly solution, specifically designed to prevent the Duchess and her legal team from speaking out on what was being treated as a purely procedural matter.
Now officials have confirmed what the Daily Mail suggested last December – that its entire assessment will be buried, never to be published.
And as I’m revealing today, even the tiny handful of staff consulted during the trial were not told what the palace intends to do to tighten its procedures in the future.
Senior palace officials like the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young – who several sources have told me is also frequently the recipient of the Sussexes’ worst wrath – wanted to do the right thing, but have clearly prioritized peace with Harry and Meghan over their staff.
It has led some in the household to wonder: is treating and protecting your staff really considered less important than upsetting the Sussexes?
For many, the answer is clearly “yes”.