AceShowbiz - Meghan Markle's friends have come in defense of her after she's accused of bullying by royal aides. As the allegations were brought up ahead of her and Prince Harry's upcoming tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, a friend of the couple tells BAZAAR.com, "Harry and Meghan knew that it would get ugly in the run up [to the Oprah special], but seeing such an obvious attempt at destroying her character was distressing and upsetting."
Another close friend of the former actress who speaks on the condition of anonymity claims that skin color plays a part in the so-called "smear campaign" against the expectant mom. "I hate to say it, but find me a woman of color in a senior position who has not been accused of being too angry, too scary, too whatever in the workplace," the source says. "It's sad that it's happening, but I'm not surprised. These claims are so far from the woman I know."
One friend, who has known the Duchess of Sussex for 10 years, says the allegations leveled at her are unlike Meghan's characters. "I know that Meg would feel awful if she knew that someone felt that way about working with her, but I also know that no one ever approached her about anything like this at all during that time," the friend adds. "I have never known her to be anything but kind and considerate to her friends and colleagues."
A source close to the Sussexes insists the allegations are brought up "to undermine her character or undermine the topics that they discuss on Sunday" in the interview. "You can't ignore the timing of this," the source notes, but assures that the couple's focus remains on work and not "what they feel is a pre-emotive strike on their interview."
Of the highly-anticipated interview, a friend teases how explosive it will be, "They have had everything and the kitchen sink thrown at them this week, but ultimately nothing will stop them from sharing their truth."
Previously, The Times reported that Jason Knauf, a former communications secretary for Harry and Meghan, made a formal complaint in October 2018, just five months after the royals wed, claiming the Duchess' rude behavior had driven two members of staff out of the household and undermined the confidence of a third. The report also alleged that Meghan's actions had left staff members in tears at times.
According to BAZAAR.com, however, neither staff member made complaints of their own nor they were aware that Jason had sent an email to HR citing grievances. "When it became known to [the two individuals], they each asked for the matter to be rescinded and for it to not become an official complaint," a source tells the site.
While it's no secret that Meghan was labeled as "difficult" during her time as a senior royal member, it's believed her American work ethic was what caused the complaints from staff members. "It's not about what she does, it's the fact she is so bloody opinionated all the time," a source says one "frazzled" aide confessed after working on her May 2018 wedding. Another, who worked with Meghan on a charity initiative, told a colleague, "Her expectations are unrealistic. She wants everything done now. This is not Hollywood!"
While Meghan's personal assistant Melissa Toubati left Kensington Palace in October 2018 after reportedly being "driven to tears," court documents during Meghan's privacy case against The Mail on Sunday revealed that Melissa was dismissed from her role by the couple due to misconduct.
In the Sussex biography, "Finding Freedom", sources additionally revealed that the Sussexes believe certain staff, including their own press secretary, were "more interested in protecting one of their own than [Meghan.]"
In a statement responding to the allegations, a rep for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said, "Let's just call this what it is-a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation. We are disappointed to see this defamatory portrayal of the Duchess of Sussex given credibility by a media outlet. It's no coincidence that distorted several-year-old accusations aimed at undermining the duchess are being briefed to the British media shortly before she and the duke are due to speak openly and honestly about their experience of recent years."
Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace is set to launch an investigation into the allegations. "We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex," read a statement released by the palace officials.
"Accordingly our HR (human resources) team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article," the statement continued. "Members of staff involved at the time, including those who have left the Household, will be invited to participate to see if lessons can be learned. The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace."