Meghan Markle accuses Buckingham Palace of ‘calculated smear campaign’ ahead of Oprah interview

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Meghan Markle has accused Buckingham Palace of a “calculated smear campaign” after claims she faced a bullying complaint during her time at Kensington Palace were reported in a British newspaper.

A report in The Times newspaper on Wednesday (March 3), just days before an interview with Oprah Winfrey and Harry and Meghan is set to air, claimed the allegation was made October 2018.

The paper has reported that the complaint was made in an effort to get Buckingham Palace to protect staff. It also reports that Prince Harry pleaded with the complainant not to pursue it.

But a spokesman for the Sussexes said they were the victims of a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation.

He 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.”

A full statement 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.

“In a detailed legal letter of rebuttal to The Times, we have addressed these defamatory claims in full, including spurious allegations regarding the use of gifts loaned to The Duchess by The Crown.

“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.”

The couple’s lawyers reportedly told The Times that the newspaper was “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative” before the interview.

The CBS two-hour special with Oprah is due to be screened on Sunday in the US and is expected to be shown in the UK on March 8.

ITV has won the bidding war to air the interview in the UK, with the network announcing on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday that it would be screening the programme next Monday. MailOnline has reported that ITV’s deal to secure the rights is worth around £1 million.

The royal household will be braced for the show’s revelations as the couple discuss their life within the royal family and their exit from the working monarchy.

In dramatic promo clips, Oprah asks Meghan if she was “silent or silenced”, with the duchess’s answer not revealed.

In response to a comment by the duchess, Oprah asks: “Almost unsurvivable. Sounds like there was a breaking point?”

Harry is seen saying of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, while holding Meghan’s hand: “I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here, talking to you, with my wife by my side, because I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for her (Diana), going through this process by herself, all those years ago.”

At one point in the trailer, Oprah tells viewers: “Just to make it clear to everybody, there is no subject that is off-limits,” as Meghan nods in agreement.

A PR expert has described the timing of the interview, with the Duke of Edinburgh currently unwell in hospital, as “horrendous”.



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Public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski warned that Harry and Meghan were at risk of a “real reputational mess” if they went ahead with the broadcast in the US on Sunday and said it should be postponed.

Harry’s grandfather Philip, 99, spent nearly two weeks in the private King Edward VII’s Hospital before being transferred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital on Monday for tests on a pre-existing heart condition.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment.



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