Meghan Markle’s former aide lifts lid on Duchess ‘bullying’ probe – interviews and ‘staff crisis’

Samantha Cohen, who previously worked for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s former private secretary Samantha Cohen, who also worked for the late Queen for 17 years, confirmed she had been interviewed by the palace following a bullying complaint made against the Duchess

A former aide of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has confirmed she was interviewed by the palace about bullying claims made against the Duchess.

Samantha Cohen worked as private secretary to the Sussexes after being appointed in 2018 at the personal request of the late Queen. Before that, she had worked for the former monarch for 17 years as press secretary and later assistant private secretary.

However, in October 2019 she resigned from her role with Harry and Meghan, likening the job to “working with teenagers”, it was claimed in former Times royal correspondent Valentine Low’s book Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown.

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A former aide of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has confirmed she was interviewed by the palace about bullying claims made against the Duchess.

Samantha Cohen worked as private secretary to the Sussexes after being appointed in 2018 at the personal request of the late Queen. Before that, she had worked for the former monarch for 17 years as press secretary and later assistant private secretary.

However, in October 2019 she resigned from her role with Harry and Meghan, likening the job to “working with teenagers”, it was claimed in former Times royal correspondent Valentine Low’s book Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown.

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Ms Cohen with the late Queen and Meghan during a trip to Chester in 2018
Ms Cohen with the late Queen and Meghan during a trip to Chester in 2018 ( Image:PA)

In his book, author Low told how Ms Cohen organised the couple’s first official tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand but alleged she ended up being “screamed at”. “Sam always made clear that it was like working for a couple of teenagers,” Low claimed a source said. “They (Meghan and Prince Harry) were impossible and pushed her to the limit. She was miserable.”

Ms Cohen left soon after amid claims that the Duchess had ‘bullied’ staff – claims Meghan strongly denies. And now she has opened up about the palace probe into the allegations, revealing that she was one of 10 aides who were interviewed after the then head of communications, Jason Knauf, made a bullying complaint in October 2018.

Ms Cohen, who is originally from Brisbane, told Australia’s Herald Sun that she only agreed to a short secondment but was unable to leave as the palace couldn’t find anyone willing to replace her. She said: “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.”

An investigation was launched 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.

Ms Cohen worked for the late Queen for 17 years
Ms Cohen worked for the late Queen for 17 years ( Image:PA)

Ms Cohen with the late Queen in Newmarket in 2016

Ms Cohen with the late Queen in Newmarket in 2016( Image:PA)


The results were expected to be made public. However, it was revealed in July 2022 that the findings of the review would not feature in a report on the Sovereign Grant for that year. Changes are to be made with lessons having been learned, said Buckingham Palace – but the household declined to go into specifics.

It comes as Ms Cohen, who said the late Queen nicknamed her “Samantha Panther” for her no-nonsense work attitude, also revealed how her former boss loved palace mishaps because they “spiced her life up”.

Ms Cohen said her boss displayed a sense of humour and was often amused when perfectly arranged royal events such as plaque unveilings did not go to plan. She said: “said: “The Queen had no ego, she was so comfortable in herself, yet she loved it when things went wrong. If a cake was not cutting, or a plaque didn’t unveil, because everything was so perfectly organised, it spiced her life up when things went wrong.”

She said the “best times” were her two tours accompanying the Queen to Australia. The Queen and Prince Philip visited South Australia and Queensland in 2002 and returned to Australia in 2011 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth.

Her close relationship with the Queen led to her working with her almost daily for nearly a decade and having her own bedroom at Windsor Castle. Recalling how she was invited to bring her family to Balmoral and also to Sandringham at Christmas, she said: “The Queen and I used to talk a lot. I miss her, she was a special woman.” She said her favourite job to date remains working for the late Queen, adding: “I loved, loved, loved the job as the Queen’s assistant private secretary. They were happy times because the Queen was in great form.”

 

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