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A former royal aide’s claims have cast a dark shadow over Meghan Markle’s latest business venture.

Samantha Cohen, who was a Buckingham Palace staffer nearly 20 years, confirmed she was questioned during an investigation into claims of bullying made against the Duchess of Sussex. Cohen, who spoke to the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun, left in 2019.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” British royals expert Hilary Fordwich told Fox News Digital. “There have been too many examples of the ‘Sussex Survivors Club’ for the allegations not to be true. … In contrast, not even one such report has ever been raised regarding Kate Middleton. Ask her family’s butcher from when she was a little girl growing up.


Samantha Cohen (right) is seen here accompanying Meghan Markle in 2018. She left her role in 2019. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

“She was [described] as a polite little girl,” Fordwich shared. “He was [later] invited to her wedding to Prince William in Westminster Abbey. An amazing track record indeed.”

While Cohen didn’t directly speak about the investigation, she revealed the palace was unable to find a replacement aide for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex due to 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,” she said.

Samantha Cohen wearing a powder pink lace dress and a matching fascinator

Samantha Cohen attends the royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England. (Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images)

A representative for the former American actress didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

Buckingham Palace launched the investigation in March 2021 after reports alleged that Markle, 42, had driven out two personal assistants and that staff had been “humiliated” on several occasions during her time living in Kensington Palace.

The claims were published by The Times of London, days before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sat down with Oprah Winfrey for their televised interview.


Oprah interviews Prince Harry, Meghan Markle

Oprah Winfrey interviewed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for a special in 2021, and they revealed their struggles with royal life. (Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images)

Markle’s lawyers denied the bullying allegations when they were made. At the time, a spokesperson for the duchess said the claims were just the “latest attack on her character.”

Cohen’s latest claims came shortly after the former American actress launched the first product from her lifestyle brand, American Riviera Orchard.

On April 15, fashion designer Tracy Robbins and Delfina Blaquier, a photographer and wife of polo star Nacho Figueras, were among the first to share a photo of the brand’s first product, strawberry jam, on Instagram.

Meghan Markles lifestyle brand logo

Meghan Markle revealed her new venture, American Rivera Orchard, on the brand’s new Instagram grid. (American Riviera Orchard Instagram)

Christopher Andersen, author of “The King,” told Fox News Digital the palace has more important things to be concerned about, such as King Charles III and Middleton both battling cancer.

“Once again, we are left to try and divine the truth based on leaks from the palace and the occasional nugget offered up by former employees of The Crown,” Andersen explained. “The monarchy has always been very secretive, and that continues. This code of silence routine has got to stop since all it does is spawn gossip, rumors and wild conspiracy theories. We’ve seen this repeatedly. And it’s all to the monarchy’s detriment.

“But why rehash this bullying business at all?” he continued. “It’s fairly well established that there was a huge clash of cultures between Meghan and the monarchy, full stop. Meghan woefully miscalculated just how much power over her own life she’d be allowed to retain and how easily those inside the palace can become flustered. Frankly, an offhand comment that would roll off the back of an American can send some of these royal hand-holders running to the loo in tears. 


Meghan Markle staring intently at the camera while Prince Harry looks ahead

Meghan Markle, who starred in the legal drama “Suits,” became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Britain’s Prince Harry. (Andrew Milligan/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“They are accustomed to getting their own way and not having their authority questioned. There was plenty of blame to go around and lots of bruised feelings on both sides. But I think most of it could be chalked up to Meghan’s naïveté and the palace’s hidebound intransigence.”

In June 2023, Buckingham Palace announced it had investigated how the staff had handled allegations of bullying made against the former “Suits” star.

According to palace officials, the details of the independent review were not being released to protect the confidentiality of those who took part. Following the review, officials said the palace’s human resources policy had been updated, but the palace declined to say what the changes were.

Meghan Markle wearing a black sparkling v-neck dress next to Prince Harry in a suit and dark tie

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex live in California with son Prince Archie and daughter Princess Lilibet. (Victoria Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have seemingly chosen to keep calm and carry on. People magazine reported that Charlie Gipson and Kyle Boulia have joined the couple as communications executives. Gipson, who is based in the U.K., will serve as a point contact for European media outlets.

Miranda Barbot, the couple’s rep, has been promoted to the role of vice president of programs and media operations, the outlet revealed.

“This is a smart, albeit overdue, move for Meghan and Harry,” Doug Eldridge, an agent, celeb branding and marketing expert and the founder of Achilles PR, told Fox News Digital.


Harry and Meg

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have added two new people to their office. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

“It’s not just that Meghan wasn’t generating positive coverage and publicity. It’s that she was consistently on the receiving end of incessantly negative coverage, which tends to have a compounding effect, like interest,” he explained. “Her new comms team will first need to stop the negative trend line of coverage; get back to zero, then begin building into the positive. 

“It’s akin to taking over a once profitable company, which was horribly mismanaged and has crippling debt. You must put a tourniquet on the bleeding, salvage the limbs and only then … can you start the positive rehabilitation process. This is more complicated and time-consuming than you might imagine.”

“Harry and Meghan aren’t about to overlook the European market for their new lifestyle brand,” Andersen said. “It makes perfect sense that they would hire someone with experience based in the U.K. to handle all that. … Harry and Meghan are still mega-celebrities, and, as such, have the media clout to hype their wares abroad.”

Samantha Cohen wearing a long-sleeved white blouse and dark pants

Private secretary Samantha Cohen during Prince Harry and Meghan’s visit to Nyanga Township Sept. 23, 2019, in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

“I, for one, am still waiting to see how much they’re going to charge for their jams and jellies,” Andersen added.

It’s unclear if more ex-aides will come forward with their alleged accounts of working for the duchess. Royal expert Tom Bower wrote in the Daily Mail, “I have no doubt that more will now emerge. The trickle of information will, soon enough, become a stream.”

Valentine Low, author of “Courtiers: Intrigue, Ambition, and the Power Players Behind the House of Windsor,” was the reporter who broke the story about palace aides alleging they were bullied by the Duchess of Sussex before the couple made their exit in 2020. 


Meghan Markle looking serious in a crowd

A spokesperson for Meghan Markle denied the bullying allegations. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

According to Low’s book, one source alleged that working with the Sussexes was “like working for a couple of teenagers.”

“That’s what they were like,” Low previously claimed to Fox News Digital. “They were kind of stubborn. They were difficult. They were uncontrollable and incredibly willful. You look at all the things that Meghan and Harry did – for instance, private jets.

“There was a time during the summer of 2019 when they took several jets in a short space of time,” Low said. “And this was despite all the advice they were given. You know, ‘Don’t do that because you’ve been lecturing the world about saving the environment, and then you’re on a private jet.’ Which was so bad in terms of carbon emissions. But they wouldn’t listen to reason. And, of course, when the media found out about it, Harry got severely criticized. But they were just difficult to deal with.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle share a kiss after a charity polo match.

Britain’s Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, kiss as she presents his polo team with the trophy for winning the 2024 Royal Salute Polo Challenge to Benefit Sentebale April 12, 2024, in Wellington, Fla.  (AP Images)

Another former palace insider alleged to Low that Markle “thought she was going to be the Beyoncé of the U.K.” after marrying Harry, 39.

“I think they felt she wanted the stardom, she wanted the adulation,” said Low. 

He alleged that she was “less interested in cutting ribbons, opening hospitals and doing all the frankly boring things that members of the royal family often have to do.”

“[But] she liked the stardom,” he claimed. “She liked the attention.”


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after the Queens death

Valentine Low previously told Fox News Digital he was sticking by his report. (Irsty O’Connor/Pool/AFP )

Reps for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment at the time about Low’s book. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace previously told Fox News Digital they generally do not comment “on such books.”

Fox News Digital’s Christina Dugan Ramirez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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