Former Meghan Markle aide breaks silence on bullying allegations

Both Harry and Meghan denied the shocking claims in the book. But even though it’s been some time since its release, another person has come forward. The late Queen’s former press secretary, Samantha Cohen, has spoken out.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married at St. George’s Chapel in 2018. It was the beginning of what many thought would be a lifelong service to the Crown, but it didn’t take long before that dream was shattered.


Harry & Meghan

On January 8, 2020, the couple announced the news on their official Instagram account.

“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” Harry and Meghan Markle said.

“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.”

It seemed that Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royals had initially accepted their decision. After all, they are human beings free to do whatever they feel is right.

However, it didn’t take long before things turned very ugly.

The Oprah interview turned everything on its head regarding the royal family, Harry and Meghan. Firstly, the couple accused members of the Firm of questioning their son Archie’s potential skin color (before his birth). Meghan, meanwhile, lashed out during the interview, saying that she didn’t get any help from the Firm regarding her declining mental health.

Later, Harry released his book, Spare, in which he revealed all sorts of things about his royal family members, which left many, including Prince William and Kate Middleton, furious.

Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In December 2022, just weeks before Harry’s book came out, the Sussexes released a documentary series on Netflix in which the couple would “share their complex journey in their own words.”

Harry & Meghan Markle traveled on the “freedom flight”

The Netflix show followed Harry and Meghan’s journey from leaving the royals to living a brand new life in the US. After staying in Canada, the couple settled in Montecito, California, buying a mansion there and preparing for the birth of their second child, Lilibet.

The show included never-before-seen pictures of the couple and their children, Archie and Lilibet. It also gave viewers an insight into their first hours after leaving the royal family.

When Harry and Meghan boarded their flight in Canada, it marked the moment they officially left their royal lives behind.

Harry branded the flight “the freedom flight,” which, of course, could be interpreted in many ways. Yet now, when looking back, it’s pretty evident that the term “freedom flight” refers to the fact that he and Meghan finally felt free to do what they wanted, as opposed to being controlled by their duties with the Firm.

Harry, Meghan Markle, and her mother, Doria Ragland, left on a private jet. It was shown in the last episode of the Netflix show – and for those who never watched the six episodes, it was undoubtedly a moment plenty of people missed out on.


Harry filmed inside the plane with his phone, showing his stepmother and the couple’s two dogs.

“We are on the freedom flight, we are leaving Canada, and we are headed to Los Angeles,” Harry said, putting his finger to his mouth as if in a “shh” moment.

“Here’s Grandma…” he added, showing Doria.

Harry then panned to Meghan, wearing casual clothes and a bobble hat, sitting alongside Archie, a baby at the time.

“Say hi, Archie. We’re about to go where mummy’s from,” Meghan said.

“The couple were obviously in a state of panic”

The Daily Mail reported that their plane was a 12-seater Cessna jet, retailing at about $6.5 million. Whether Harry and Meghan bought or rented the plane is unknown.

For those watching the footage of Harry and Meghan on the plane, it seemed like they were as happy as they could be. However, others had a different take on it.

Body language expert Darren Stanton said Harry and Meghan Markle looked as if they were in a state of panic.

“There was a real sense of urgency in both Harry and Meghan’s faces as they flew to California. Even though they were thousands of feet above the ground, they both lowered their voices as if they didn’t want to be heard,” Stanton said in December, shortly after the Netflix documentary episode was released.

“The couple were obviously in a state of panic to get out of Canada, where they felt exposed. Both Meghan and Harry looked really tired and stressed, while Meghan’s mother also showed empathy for the situation.”

The body language expert concluded: “The fact that Harry called it a ‘freedom flight’ truly explains his mindset at the time. He very much saw it as a cat-and-mouse game, which was a time-sensitive operation.”

“He seems a lot more settled and relaxed in the rest of the documentary compared to the scene of them on the plane. It was very much a turbulent period for Harry and Meghan.”

Mat Hayward/FilmMagic

Meghan Markle has repeatedly explained how she felt she was badly treated while working as a senior royal family member. However, she wasn’t the only one feeling the same way. In fact, Sussex staff members felt that Harry and Meghan mistreated them.

Meghan Markle was accused of bullying royal staff members

In 2021, The Times reported that several royal aids had approached the newspaper, claiming that one of Meghan Markle’s former aids had filed a bullying complaint against her while the couple lived at Kensington Palace.

Meghan was accused of bullying two PAs out of the royal household, which was uncovered in an email sent by Jason Knauff, who was the then-acting Kensington Palace communications secretary.

According to The Times, Jason emailed Prince William’s private secretary to raise his concerns.

“I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights,” Knauff wrote.

“She is bullying (name removed) and seeking to undermine her confidence.”

Just a month later, Knauff handed in his notice. At the same time, Meghan decided to respond to the bullying claims, saying she was “saddened” by the allegations. Also, even though Harry and Meghan said the accusations were a “wholly false narrative,” Buckingham Palace decided to investigate the concerns.

Harry, Meghan Markle
Samir Hussein/WireImage

In June 2023, the palace announced that it had investigated how the staff had handled allegations of bullying against Meghan Markle. While the independent review wasn’t released to the public, officials stated that the palace’s human resources policy had been updated. However, they declined to reveal what changes had been made.

“Young women were broken by their behaviour”

The email, initially sent in October 2018, was leaked just days before Harry and Meghan sat down with Oprah Winfrey. The couple’s spokesperson called it a “smear.”

However, this was not the only report about what Meghan was said to have done to her aides. In 2022, author Valentine Low released the book Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown, which revealed bombshell allegations, quoting sources saying how Meghan Markle screamed at her ex-staffers, verbally attacking them on several occasions.

“There were a lot of broken people,” an insider told Low. “Young women were broken by their behaviour.”

In the book, Low describes how, at one point, Meghan Markle harshly criticized a young female worker in front of other colleagues.

“Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you,” Markle reportedly told the staffer.

In another part of Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown, Valentine Low claimed that one staff member was “completely destroyed” after working with Harry and Meghan. Another royal aide claimed that the couple could call them when having dinner on Friday, only to reprimand them.

Meghan Markle

“Every 10 minutes I had to go outside to be screamed at by her and Harry. It was, ‘I can’t believe you’ve done this. You’ve let me down. What were you thinking?’” the aide claimed. “It went on for a couple of hours.”

Harry said rivalry with William “poisoined the atmosphere” at his and Meghan’s office

Harry touched on the allegations in Spare, acknowledging that “More than once a staff member slumped across their desk and wept.”

“She was also said to have driven our assistant to quit; in fact that assistant was asked to resign by Palace HR after we showed them evidence she’d traded on her position with Meg to get freebies. But because we couldn’t speak publicly about the reasons for the assistant’s departure, rumors filled the void.”

Harry added that there was “frequent bickering around the office” in which “sides were taken: Team Cambridge versus Team Sussex,”

He continued: “Rivalry, jealousy, competing agendas—it all poisoned the atmosphere. It didn’t help that everyone was working around the clock. There were so many demands from the press, such a constant stream of errors that needed clearing up, and we didn’t have nearly enough people or resources.”

The controversy surrounding Meghan Markle’s claimed bullying of her staff has been quiet for quite a while. However, the late Queen Elizabeth II’s former press secretary, Samantha Cohen, has decided to speak.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

In an interview with the Herald Sun, Cohen confirms that she had been active in the conversation during the investigation against Meghan and the possible bullying.

Former press secretary Samantha Cohen breaks silence

She didn’t elaborate further on the investigation itself. However, Cohen revealed that Buckingham Palace couldn’t find any replacement aides for Harry and Meghan because of high staff turnover.

“I was only supposed to stay for six months but stayed for 18 — we couldn’t find a replacement for me and when we did, we took them on tour to Africa with Harry and Meghan to show them the ropes, but they left (quit) as well while in Africa,” Samantha Cohen said.

Samantha Cohen was also featured in Valentine Low’s book Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown. A friend of hers claimed that Meghan Markle and Harry had screamed at the former press secretary before and during the flight to Australia for their 2018 tour.

“Sam always made clear that it was like working for a couple of teenagers. They were impossible and pushed her to the limit. She was miserable,” the friend told the author.

“She was constantly having to battle on Harry and Meghan’s behalf, while taking all this abuse from them.”

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