Aussie caught up in Meghan investigation
The bad blood between Prince Harry and the Royal Family has intensified, with Buckingham Palace investigating bullying claims against Meghan Markle.
In an unprecedented move, Buckingham Palace revealed that it would launch an official probe into claims that the Duchess of Sussex left employees "shaking" and "bullied" two out of their jobs.
Australian Samantha Cohen, who worked for as the Queen's private secretary for nearly a decade, was put under stress when working for Harry and Meghan, according to a bombshell report in The Times of Londonnewspaper.
Meghan and Harry had claimed that the article on The Times' front page was a "smear campaign" ahead of their interview with Oprah, due to air in the United States on Sunday night, local time, and in Australia on Monday.
The heavily-promoted sit-down, to screen on America's CBS Network, will detail the couple's departure from the Royal Family and decision to move to California two years after their fairytale wedding at Windsor Castle.
Buckingham Palace added fuel to the family feud fire, officially launching a review into Meghan's treatment of staff when she was a royal living at Kensington Palace.
"We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex," the palace statement said.
"Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article. 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."
The report claimed that Jason Knauf, the couple's former communications adviser, made a written complaint about the poor treatment of staff under Meghan and Harry.
"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," he wrote.
In relation to Ms Cohen, originally from Queensland, Mr Knauf wrote in 2018: "I questioned if the Household policy on bullying and harassment applies to principals".
However, Ms Cohen did accompany the couple on their tour of southern Africa in 2019, before leaving to co-chair Cool Earth, an environment charity.
Mr Knauf's complaint was also sent to Simon Case, at the time Prince William's private secretary, who forwarded it to Samantha Carruthers, the head of HR.
It's alleged that Meghan said, "it's not my job to coddle people", The Times reported, when her alleged treatment of staff was raised by a senior aide at a meeting attended by Harry.
Dickie Arbiter, who was a spokesman for the Queen between 1988 and 2000, said when asked if he was surprised at the probe: "In a way but given the allegations made in The Times they had to do something and investigate".
"The story came up 18 months ago when the ladies left but now we know that Jason Knauf, head of communications, as did Simon Case, and it appears that nothing was done about it."
Mr Arbiter told News Corp Australia that it was not a reaction to the Oprah interview.
"Buckingham Palace has become proactive. The Valentine Low story in The Times had something to do with the Oprah interview but Buckingham Palace was not reacting to the Oprah interview, they made it clear they were reacting because of the piece in The Times," he said.
Penny Junor, a royal author who wrote a biography on Prince Harry, backed the palace investigation.
"I think it is a very good thing they have done. The story in The Times was quite shocking and it had been made known to the HR department and nobody had taken action," she told News Corp Australia.
"The two are connected. If the Oprah interview had gone ahead and Harry and Meghan slagged off the Royal Family and the mechanisms of the institution and then these allegations had come out they would have been batted away as tit for tat.
"It was important they got out ahead of the interview to give a slightly more balanced view of things.
Ms Junor said that there were legitimate questions about what went on when the couple were at Kensington Palace.
"Things don't smell right," she said.
Lawyers for Meghan and Harry said that they remained close to Ms Cohen and were grateful for her support and dedication.
They denied they bullied her, according to a letter sent to The Times.
Originally published as Aussie caught up in Meghan investigation