Never let it be said that the Queen is not a consummate performer.
There she was yesterday on the final day of Ascot looking pleased as punch to finally be allowed out of Windsor Castle to enjoy her favourite pastime: Ogling very expensive horses.
Wearing turquoise and a jaunty hat, Her Majesty smiled broadly and was seen laughing (chuckling even!) despite the fact that none of her own gee-gees won a single race.
But if there’s one skill the 95-year-old has perfected during her reign it is being able to go out and put on a bobby dazzler of a good show for the public, even when a truly bombshell new report is threatening to overwhelm Buckingham Palace.
Yesterday, the Times published an explosive new report making a series of allegations about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, including that Kensington Palace staff “thought she was a complete narcissist and sociopath — basically unhinged”; that she had ‘humiliated and shouted’ at staff; that Prince William had been “horrified” when he was told about Meghan’s alleged behaviour and that he wanted the duchess “removed” from the two couples’ shared household; and that “William wished to be separated from Meghan on a day-to-day basis.”
Think it’s been a tumultuous, rocky few months in the royal world? Pah! These incendiary claims have just ratcheted things up, devastatingly.
These new allegations come via veteran British biographer Robert Lacey who also just happens to be the historical consultant for The Crown.
Last year, he published a book about the fallout between Princes William and Harry called Battle of Brothers and now, a new issue of the title is set to be released that includes these and other claims.
In early March, the Times’ Valentine Low broke the news that the duchess had faced a bullying claim in 2018.
According to that report, the Cambridges and Sussexes’ then joint communications secretary Kensington Palace Jason Knauf had raised the matter of Meghan’s alleged treatment of staff, writing in an email to William’s private secretary Simon Case, “I’m very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year” and that “The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights.”
A spokesperson for the now California-based duo strenuously denied the claims and said that the couple “were the victims of a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation.”
“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.”
In the wake of that report, Buckingham Palace announced that they had launched an inquiry, handled by an outside law firm, into the claims.
Then, a week later, came Harry and Meghan’s Oprah Winfrey TV interview and their own shocking claims of palace callousness in the face of the duchess’ mental health struggles and racism, which basically blew everything out of the water which had come before.
However, this weekend’s new reporting has refocused attention on the bullying allegations.
According to Lacey it was the former actress’ alleged treatment of staff that sparked the bitter row between William and Harry which caused a deep rift in their relationship and which ultimately triggered the elder prince to “throw Harry out”.
Lacey says that it was first in 2017, around when Harry and Meghan got engaged (which was about a year before Knauf wrote to Case) that “a senior aide had spoken to the couple about the difficulties caused by their treatment of staff. ‘It’s not my job to coddle people,’ Meghan was said to have replied.”
“Meghan governed by fear,” Lacey quotes one courtier as saying.
“So many people said it. Nothing was ever good enough for her. [She] humiliated staff in meetings, [would] shout at them, [would] cut them off email chains — and then demand to know why they hadn’t done anything.”
“Meghan portrayed herself as the victim,” one Kensington Palace staffer told Lacey, “but she was the bully. People felt run over by her. They didn’t know how to handle this woman.
“They thought she was a complete narcissist and sociopath — basically unhinged. Which was why the pair of them were drawn to each other in the first place — both damaged goods.”
According to Lacey, “Several people maintained they had been “humiliated” by the duchess, and that criticism extended to Harry as well.
“‘I overheard a conversation between Harry and one of his top aides,” recalled one Kensington Palace courtier.
“Harry was screaming and screaming down the phone. Team Sussex was a really toxic environment. People shouting and screaming in each other’s faces.”
One royal correspondent told the veteran biographer that “[the Cambridges] recognise that [their employees] don’t get paid loads of money, so they are just really nice to them. So this was a very deep clash of philosophies, with Meghan being used to a Hollywood service culture — getting exactly what she wanted whenever she wanted in that famous way that Harry said.”
William, according to Lacey, “went ballistic when he heard the ‘dossier of distress'” and “got straight on the phone to talk to Harry.”
After the younger prince “flared up in furious defence of his wife” he turned off his phone, prompting William to go speak to him in person.
“The showdown between the two siblings was fierce and bitter,” according to Lacey.
William is reported to have said he thought Meghan had an “agenda” and that “undermining some precious principles of the monarchy, if she really was treating her staff in this way.”
Per Lacey’s reporting: “Harry, for his part, was equally furious that William should give credence to the accusations against Meghan, and he was fiercely combative in his wife’s defence.” Afterwards, Harry “solidified his belief that his family were suffering from ‘unconscious bias.'”
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