The provenance of the bullying allegations caused the battle between the Sussexes and the Royal Household to escalate as the couple claimed The Times was being “used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative”.
Palace aides branded allegations they had leaked the claims as “untrue” and “disingenuous”.
The revelations also thwarted hopes of a reconciliation between Prince Harry and Prince William.
The claims are thought to have been carefully and deliberately collated, with multiple sources briefing against the Duchess.
It emerged that Jason Knauf, the Sussexes’ communications secretary at the time, submitted a formal complaint in October 2018, describing her treatment of one employee as “totally unacceptable.” He added: “ The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights.”
The Sussexes are convinced that senior Buckingham Palace aides leaked the allegations as part of an orchestrated defence because they are “nervous” about revelations made in their forthcoming Oprah Winfrey interview.
A source close to the couple said they had “no doubt” it was part of an orchestrated smear campaign.
They added: “It’s not possible for this to have happened without the acknowledgement or understanding, perhaps a gentle nod or a wink, from someone pretty central or senior at the palace.
“How could a junior member of staff have pulled this altogether? This was a clear collaboration. There is a motive and it is connected to…