Owen Jones said the palace’s response to reports Meghan had bullied members of staff suggested it was “vengeful” and wanted to paint the duchess in a bad light. The columnist said: “This is self evidently a pre emotive strike on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in advance of their Oprah interview. What a messed up, vengeful institution.”
He added: “A pre emptive strike that should read – but also pre emotive sort of works.”
Commentator Ash Sakar also said the palace may be going public in anticipation of how Meghan will describe the Firm in her Oprah tell-all.
She tweeted: “I’ve got no flippin’ idea whether Meghan is a bully or not.
“But I’ve got some inkling as to why Buckingham Palace are coming out with these allegations the same week as she’s doing an interview with Oprah, lifting the lid on her experience marrying into the royal family.”
Meghan’s lawyers have vehemently denied she bullied staff and said she is the victim of a smear campaign.
After initially refusing to comment on reports of alleged bullying, the palace released a statement on Wednesday saying it would investigate the matter.
A spokesperson for Meghan 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.”
Buckingham Palace has been contacted for comment.
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7.45am update: Meghan hits out at Palace
The explosive bullying claims came as a second teaser clip of Oprah’s interview with the Sussexes was released, which showed Meghan accusing the palace of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and her husband.
In the clip, Oprah asks Meghan: “How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?”
Prince Harry’s wife replies: “I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us.
“And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, I’ve…there’s a lot that’s been lost already.”
The palace’s investigation into the bullying claims will be carried out in the near future, according to reports.
A spokesman for Harry and Meghan called the claims “a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation”.