Meghan Markle has been accused of bullying staff and “destroying” one individual, ahead of her “tell-all” television interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The Times newspaper alleges that during her time as a working royal, Meghan drove out two personal assistants and staff were “humiliated” on several occasions.
There has long been speculation about the atmosphere in the Sussex household after a number of staff left, and the newspaper chronicles what it describes as “turmoil” within palace walls.
But Meghan’s spokesman said: “The duchess is saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.
“She is determined to continue her work building compassion around the world and will keep striving to set an example for doing what is right and doing what is good.”
Jason Knauf, the Sussexes’ then communications secretary, made a bullying complaint in October 2018 in an apparent attempt to force Buckingham Palace to protect staff.
A source told the newspaper Harry begged his senior aide not to take the matter further, but it also reported lawyers for the duke and duchess deny the meeting took place and that Harry would not have interfered with staff matters.
Questions will be asked about the timing of the allegations, made a few days before Meghan and Harry’s interview with Winfrey is aired on Sunday in America.
Royal aides will be bracing themselves for revelations from the couple after the chat show host said in a clip from the interview that nothing was “off-limits”.
But the allegations of bullying will point the spotlight at the duchess and away from the institution of the monarchy they left.
The paper reported Mr Knauf sent an email outlining the duchess’s alleged actions to Simon Case, Prince William’s then private secretary and now the cabinet secretary, after conversations with Samantha Carruthers, the head of human resources.
Mr Knauf left soon after making his allegations and is now a close aide to Harry’s brother, working as the chief executive of William and Kate’s Royal Foundation.
The Times reported Mr Knauf wrote in his email: “I am very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The treatment of X was totally unacceptable.
“The duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying Y and seeking to undermine her confidence. We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behaviour towards Y.”
Buckingham Palace declined to comment. Kensington Palace has been contacted for a comment.