Following anonymous accusations that Meghan Markle bullied royal aides, those close to the pregnant royal reportedly say that she expected a fight after choosing to do a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.
As a response, Buckingham Palace released a statement on Wednesday, March 3, announcing its HR team would investigate the reported incidents that allegedly occurred about two and a half years ago.
"We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex," Buckingham Palace said in the statement. "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."
"Harry and Meghan knew that it would get ugly in the run up [to the Oprah special], but seeing such an obvious attempt at destroying her character was distressing and upsetting," one friend told the royal biographer.
A friend called The Times report "a pre-emotive strike" on the couple's highly anticipated interview with Oprah, airing on March 7.
"You can't ignore the timing of this," a source close to the couple told the outlet. "This has been done to undermine her character or undermine the topics that they discuss on Sunday."
A friend said, "They have had everything and the kitchen sink thrown at them this week, but ultimately nothing will stop them from sharing their truth."
Friends of the former Suits actress also defended Meghan's character to Bazaar. Someone Omid described as a close friend of the Duchess told him, "These claims are so far from the woman I know."
Meghan's friend of 10 years told Harper's Bazaar that Meghan "would feel awful" if she knew a staffer "felt that way about working with her." The anonymous source added, "I also know that no one ever approached her about anything like this at all during that time. I have never known her to be anything but kind and considerate to her friends and colleagues."
After The Times article alleged that Meghan's actions led to tears and humiliation among staffers, a spokesperson for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex addressed the claims in a statement obtained by E! News on March 2.
"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," it read. "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."
On Sunday, the Sussexes are set to air their tell-all with Oprah on CBS at 8 p.m.
A new teaser for the special dropped on Wednesday evening amid the bullying controversy. The pre-recorded clip shows Meghan saying, "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."
The show is expected to cover their journey as they've stepped down as working members of the royal family. A press release stated Meghan would discuss life "as a royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure."
In November 2020, Meghan's lawyers admitted she indirectly shared information with Omid for his bombshell book, which came out in August. E! News obtained court documents from Nov. 18 in which her lawyers stated that neither Meghan nor Harry spoke with Omid or co-author Carolyn Durand. However, her lawyers said the Duchess spoke with a friend that she knew was talking with the authors to ensure there was no "misrepresentation" of her relationship with her father Thomas Markle.
Meghan's rep declined to comment to E! News for this article.