Meghan Markle probably knew speaking out about her experience in the royal family would get a bit sticky, but perhaps not even she foresaw quite how rough it would get, even before the programme aired.
After the first trailer for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's in-depth interview with Oprah Winfrey (which airs in the States on Sunday and in the UK on Monday night) was released last week, allegations emerged about Meghan having been at the centre of a bullying complaint during her time at Kensington Palace.
The Times published a report sourced from palace aides, suggesting that one of the Duchess of Sussex's former advisors had filed a bullying complaint against her while she was a working member of the royal family. Meghan's representatives quickly released a rebuttal of the accusations, saying she was "saddened by this latest attack on her character," and pointed out that the timing of such claims (just before the interview is aired) doesn't feel all that coincidental. Her lawyers told the Times it was "being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative based on misleading and harmful misinformation."
In response, Buckingham Palace released a statement to say it was investigating the circumstances of allegations, because they are "very concerned" and "will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace."
Unsurprisingly, this move was met with fury from many online, who highlighted what they see as a double standard in the way Meghan is being treated in comparison to, say, Prince Andrew - who continues to be embroiled in Jeffrey Epstein sexual assault allegations (which he strenuously denies).
And now, clearly distressed by the public smearing of Meghan's character, some of her friends have made the unprecedented move to speak out in her defence.
Lindsay Roth - who has been friends with the Duchess since the pair attended Northwestern University School of Communication together in the early 00s, and had Meghan as her maid of honour when she married Gavin Jordan in August 2016, posted on Instagram about her close friend.
In response to allegations of Meghan being a 'bully', Lindsay wrote: "Meg’s M.O. has always been kindness; goodwill runs in her bones. I know this to be true after 22 years of very close friendship. I have seen firsthand how she treats her friends and their families, and her colleagues."
The caption continued: "If she’s driving with you in the passenger seat, she will fling her right arm in front of you at the slightest bump in a gesture of love to ensure your safety. If you have a specific goal, she will help you get there, and your passions will become hers on your behalf. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Meg - and I hope more of you do - you will see the altruistic, magnanimous friend who I am so lucky to have in my corner. She's funny. Like, laugh out loud funny. And smart. She’s more than just a cover story."
Alongside the picture of the pair on Lindsay's wedding day, she finished off by saying: "She was this woman when we were students together at Northwestern University; she was this woman in Los Angeles when her days were spent auditioning; she was this woman living in Toronto as Rachel Zane on Suits; she was this woman before you knew she was dating Harry; she was this woman after you knew was dating Harry; she was this woman when she became Duchess of Sussex and she is still - without a doubt - this very same woman today."
And Lindsay Roth isn't the only friend of Meghan Markle's to speak out on her behalf; actress Janina Gavankar, who has known the Duchess of Sussex for almost two decades, posted on Twitter about who she really is.
"I have known Meghan for 17 years. Here’s what she is: kind, strong, open. Here’s what she’s not: "a bully". ANY of us who know her, feel the same thing from her broken silence: Relief. The truth shall set you free."
With not long to wait until the full Oprah interview airs, I'm sure it will come as a relief to Meghan, too, to finally get her public say.
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