Former employee calls for non-disclosure agreements to be lifted over Netflix series as couple receive human rights award
A former Buckingham Palace employee who claims they were bullied by the Duchess of Sussex has called on the palace to hit back at the allegations that are expected to be made in the Sussexes’ Netflix series Harry & Meghan.
The former employee, who is one of many members of staff bound by a confidentiality agreement, said: “The only way to end it once for good is for us to be allowed to speak, and for the palace to firmly reject their lies.”
The six-part documentary series, which is released in part tomorrow, contains serious allegations against the royal household, including claims that the palace leaked and planted stories.
There are also claims, highlighted in a trailer that was released earlier this week, that the attacks on the duchess were motivated by racism. Some palace insiders were “seething with rage” at the allegations, according to one source.
However, one unanswered question is how the documentary will address the allegations — first reported in The Times — that the duchess bullied members of staff. A review of the allegations was conducted by an independent law firm, but Buckingham Palace refused to publish the results.
The Sussexes have denied any allegations that the duchess bullied staff.
The duke and duchess were feted last night at an awards ceremony in New York for taking a “heroic” stand against “structural racism” in the monarchy.
Harry joked at the award gala that the evening was in fact the couple’s “date night” with 1,500 people “sharing the room”
MIKE COPPOLA/GETTY IMAGES
The couple were among those honoured at the Ripple of Hope Award gala, which also included President Zelensky of Ukraine. Alec Baldwin, the actor, hosted the event at a hotel in Manhattan, with tickets said to have sold for $1 million. The gala was organised by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights foundation.
Harry, 38, and Meghan, 41, were escorted into the venue by a team of security guards.
Commentators noted the similarity between the white Louis Vuitton gown worn by the duchess and the one worn by the Princess of Wales wore in Boston last week.
The Sussexes walked the blue carpet hand in hand and posed for pictures alongside Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F Kennedy. Meghan wore a large blue ring that appeared to be an emerald-cut aquamarine that once belonged to Princess Diana and which the duchess wore on her wedding day.
On stage with Kerry Kennedy, Harry joked: “I’ll be honest with you, Kerry, I just thought we [Meghan and I] were just going on a date night so I found it quite weird that we’re sharing the room with 1,500 people. We don’t get out much these days because our kids are so small and young so, this is completely unexpected.”
The couple appeared on stage and in a short clip shared online Harry said: “Ultimately we live in this world now where sharing experiences and sharing stories has an enormous impact.”
To laughter from the audience, he added: “But it’s nice to share date night with all of you, so thank you for coming.” Meghan added: “Thank you for bringing me on this very special date night,” to which Harry replied: “You’re welcome.”
Kennedy praised the couple for their work highlighting mental health and racial justice. She said: “They’ve stood up, they’ve talked about racial justice and they’ve talked about mental illness in a way that was incredibly brave.”
The Duke of Sussex told the event: “As we all face a complete and challenging time in the world, we choose the path of optimism of care for each other and our communities. We understand this honour, not about the culmination of a life’s work, but instead and in many ways for us, a beginning.”
He said: “Bobby Kennedy said, ‘Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope’.’’
The duchess added: ‘The enduring dream of RFK of a just and peaceful world is so much more than a simple hope. It’s a direct ask, a specific challenge, a call to action, a test of individual courage and collective spirit. And his appeal to humanity is as relevant today as it was in 1966 when he stood before the University of Cape Town, a place we’ve visited and hold close to our hearts. And he delivered a vision for the common good of society.
“He also said those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
The former member of palace staff who has spoken to The Times was so outraged by the two trailers for the Sussexes’ new series that they have decided to that they decided to make their feelings known, under conditions of strict anonymity. “It’s emotionally draining,” they said. “It feels like there’s no end to it.”
The former employee called on the palace to “step up” by lifting all the non-disclosure agreements, and said they should “publicly respond to [the Sussexes’] attacks”.
Buckingham Palace has maintained a strict policy of not responding to the advance material from the series, saying that they want to concentrate on the royal family’s engagements this week. It remains uncertain whether they will make any official response to the series, although that may change if the allegations are serious enough.
After the duke and duchess’s interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, in which they implied that an unnamed member of the royal family was racist, Buckingham Palace released a statement saying: “Some recollections may vary.”
In the latest Netflix trailer, Harry says: “No-one knows the full truth… We know the full truth.”
The former employee said: “They always use vague terms ‘the truth’, ‘my truth’, but nothing concrete is said.” Instead the duchess uses people like the journalist Omid Scobie to convey her narrative that some people within the palace were racist, the former employee said.
The palace declined to comment but it is understood that they are “monitoring events closely” and do not believe there is any point saying anything until they have seen the programme.
Last night the Prince and Princess of Wales joined the King and Queen at a diplomatic corps reception at Buckingham Palace. Kate wore a Jenny Packham dress, her blue Royal Victorian Order sash, the Lotus Flower Tiara and diamond earrings that belonged to Elizabeth II.
The former employee also believes that Meghan has been trying to push other former Palace employees into breaking their confidentiality agreements so they can be taken to court. “She knows we can’t financially protect ourselves by going to court, so she keeps pushing. It’s all a game for her. And she is loving it.”
While the former employee is mistaken in thinking that the duchess could take them to court — in the event of a breach of the agreement, it would be the palace who could sue, not Meghan — their fear of legal action remains real.
They added: “I certainly have chosen to remain silent out of respect for the crown, but if they keep attacking us and our characters, reputation etc we need to feel we are equally supported by the royal family.”
Other former employees who worked for the Sussexes have also questioned the narrative being put out by Netflix. One pointed to the scenes of frenzied media activity in the trailer that have been revealed as relating to Katie Price rather than the duke and duchess. They said: “She never confronted scenes where she was mobbed because we did so much to protect her … so they’ve had to make them up!”
That included a statement released shortly after she was revealed as Harry’s girlfriend in which the palace made robust criticism of media harassment, as well as legal complaints and complaints to the media watchdog IPSO.
The source added that coverage of Meghan was overwhelmingly positive until her father Thomas Markle, who failed to attend the couple’s wedding after colluding with fake paparazzi photographs, started turning the media narrative against her. “It will be interesting to see how her own family is referenced in their movie. It was glowing coverage until her own father started his campaign.”