The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey she was wrongly blamed for reducing her sister-in-law to tears at a bridesmaid’s dress fitting shortly before the royal wedding, in May 2018.
The allegation was first published in U.K. broadsheet The Daily Telegraph in November 2018, before being repeated on the front page of tabloid The Sun.
The saga is of far greater significance than an argument about bridesmaids dresses might initially suggest, as Meghan said it was a turning point in her relations with the media which culminated in her experiencing suicidal thoughts.
There has been—to this day—no official public statement from Kensington Palace about whose account is correct.
Author Tom Bower wrote there had been a disagreement about the length of Princess Charlotte‘s hem: “Kate thought it was too short, and anyway did not fit.
“Melissa Toubati, Meghan’s assistant, and the dress-fitters employed by Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller, witnessed Meghan emphatically reject Kate’s observation. Compromise was not a trait Meghan embraced.
“The stand-offs, Kate decided, confirmed the complaints by Toubati and other members of staff about Meghan. Kate burst into tears. [U.K. TV presenter] Kirstie Allsopp, a friend of Camilla [Duchess of Cornwall], would later confirm that Kate was reduced to tears by Meghan bullying her staff.”
Toubati was one of the two PAs Meghan was accused of bullying out of Kensington Palace, a claim she strongly denies.
Kate had given birth to Prince Louis the month before the wedding and Bower wrote that she was “too fatigued to cope with a disagreement about whether the bridesmaids should wear tights.”
The Duchess of Cambridge, the book says, thought they should wear tights in keeping with royal protocol while Meghan and her Canadian stylist friend Jessica Mulroney, daughter of another bridesmaid, Ivy, felt they should not.
Bower wrote: “Some would say that Meghan compared Ivy favourably against Charlotte. Others were surprised by Meghan’s close attachment to Mulroney.”
According to the book, Kate attempted to patch things up afterwards by going to see Meghan at the Kensington Palace apartment where she lived with Prince Harry.
Revenge reads: “After leaving that unhappy scene Kate decided to make amends. She crossed the Kensington Palace corridor and presented Meghan with a bunch of flowers. Kate also told Meghan not to speak rudely to her staff. ‘That’s unacceptable.’
“What followed can never be irrefutably established. In Kate’s version, Meghan slammed the door in her face and threw the flowers in a dustbin. Meghan would tell Oprah Winfrey that the tears were shed by her, not Kate, and the flowers were an apology. ‘I think that’s where everything changed,’ Meghan rightly said.”
The book’s account is very different to Meghan’s as conveyed to Oprah in her March, 2021, tell-all interview.
Oprah asked the duchess: “Was there a situation where she might have cried? Or she could have cried?”
Meghan replied: “No, no. The reverse happened. And I don’t say that to be disparaging to anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding. And she was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologised.
“And she brought me flowers and a note, apologising. And she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right, to just take accountability for it. What was shocking was—what was that, six, seven months after our wedding?—that the reverse of that would be out in the world.”
Meghan suggested the stories about Kate making her cry in November 2018 were a turning point which ultimately led to her feeling suicidal while pregnant.
By January 2019, she told Harry she was experiencing thoughts about ending her life and did not feel safe being left alone.
The duchess said: “And, look, I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry, especially, because I know how much loss he’s suffered.
“But I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it. And I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”
One aspect of Bower’s account that is new is that he explicitly links the dispute about bridesmaid’s dressers to the allegations that Meghan bullied her staff.
Meghan denies bullying.
The story about Meghan making Kate cry first appeared in November 2018, a month after then-Kensington Palace communications secretary Jason Knauf emailed Prince William‘s private secretary to complain.
He wrote: “I am very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The treatment of X [name removed] was totally unacceptable.”
He added: “The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying Y [name removed] and seeking to undermine her confidence. We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behavior towards Y [name removed].”
After the email was first published in U.K. broadsheet The Times in March 2021, Meghan’s spokesperson issued a statement: “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.”
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