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Meghan Markle bullying inquiry outcome to be kept secret by Buckingham Palace
30 June 2022, 00:08 | Updated: 30 June 2022, 06:59
An investigation into the handling of bullying allegations made against Meghan Markle has seen HR policies improved for royal staff - but Buckingham Palace says changes will not be made public.
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A senior palace source cited the confidentiality of those who took part in the independent review as the reason why details were not released, after current and former workers were invited to speak about their experiences of working for Meghan.
Members of the royal family have been made aware of the changes to policies and procedures of the royal household's HR department as have staff, said the source.
The issue was raised during a media briefing about the Sovereign Grant which showed the monarchy cost the taxpayer 102.4 million during 2021/22.
Buckingham Palace launched the investigation in March 2021, and invited past and present employees to speak in confidence about their experiences of working for Meghan, after it was alleged she drove out two personal assistants and staff were "humiliated" on several occasions.
The duchess' lawyers denied the allegations when they were made.
At the time, the palace said any changes in policies or procedures recommended following the review would be shared in the Sovereign Grant report which is published annually and documents royal accounts for the year.
Under the heading "Staff Report", the 2021-22 financial document listed HR policies and procedures but it is not known which were introduced following the investigation carried out by a law firm and funded privately, thought to be a senior member of the royal family.
The report also outlines the royal household's "Concern at Work" policy which encourages individuals to raise any concerns they may have about the conduct of others and sets out how issues can be aired, with the policy accessible to staff on the intranet site - known as the Coronet.
The financial document also states: "Counselling and support are provided through the household's long-established employee assistance programme and staff have been trained to be Mental Health First Aiders... Managers are trained to support, mentor and coach their teams and monitor their contribution..."
A senior palace source said: "I'm not going to comment on the changes that have been made to the policies and procedures - I'll just say that the policies and procedures have been updated...the policies in relation to the Concern at Work apply to everyone who works within the royal household."
The source went on to say: "Because of the confidentiality of the discussions we have not communicated the detailed recommendations.
"The recommendations have been incorporated within policies and procedures wherever appropriate and policies and procedures have changed.
"So all members of staff, all members of the royal family will be aware of what the policies and procedures are, the revised policies and procedures."
Heir to throne Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were "absolutely thrilled" to see Harry and Meghan and their children when they travelled briefly from California for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations earlier this month.
Harry, who quit as a senior working royal in 2020, has had a troubled relationship with Charles, telling how he felt let down and how his father stopped taking his calls at one stage.
The Sussexes left the monarchy in crisis after using an interview with Oprah Winfrey to accuse an unnamed royal of being racist towards their son before he was born, and the wider institution of failing to help Meghan when she had suicidal thoughts.
But a senior royal source, at the briefing of Clarence House's annual review, said it had been "wonderful" to have the Sussexes back in the UK at the start of June.
"It was fantastic to see them. It was wonderful to have them back in Britain," the source said.
"The prince and the duchess were absolutely thrilled to see them.
"The prince, of course, hasn't seen his grandson Archie for a bit of time and so it was very, very, very special to have some time with him.
"He hadn't met Lili, his granddaughter, and so to meet her was very emotional, a very, very wonderful thing."
Lili had her first birthday during her stay and also met her namesake great-grandmother, the Queen, for the first time.
The royal source said of the Sussexes' financial independence: "Great credit to them. They said they wanted to transition to financial independence and that has now been achieved."
Harry and Meghan secured multimillion-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify after moving to the US.
Charles's bill for the activities of William and Harry and their families, and other costs including capital expenditure and transfer to reserves, has dropped by £1.2 million over two years, with the Sussexes no longer listed in the accounts.
Charles had carried on supporting the duke and duchess with a "substantial sum" until summer 2020 following "Megxit", despite Harry claiming his family "literally cut me off financially".
This year's accounts showed the heir to the throne's annual private income from the Duchy of Cornwall was £23 million.