Palace criticized for refusing to publish findings of Meghan bullying claims | Monarchy

Buckingham Palace’s refusal to make recommendations on how to handle allegations of bullying against the Duchess of Sussex is a “huge step backwards” for the palace’s transparency, critics said.

Palace officials called “confidentiality” and the fact that no public funds were used for an independent law firm’s investigation into the royal household’s handling of allegations – denied by Meghan – that her behavior has left some staff members traumatized.

While the palace undoubtedly recognizes the public’s right to transparency on certain matters, particularly with regard to the state treasury, officials believed that this did not apply in this case.

“In my opinion, this perceived desire for full transparency has been a huge step backwards because of their reluctance to extend the report to the palace treatment of the bullying allegations,” said Joe Little, a royal commentator and editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine.

“They could have said more without going into details. And it’s, I think, this total reluctance to give any details that has made awkward headlines on the front pages.

“So soon after all the positivity from the platinum anniversary celebrations, it’s all gone in a different direction: the cost of the monarchy, the plague report, Charles and the pockets full of money. The palace will certainly not welcome those headlines.”

There is a difference between the public’s desire to know and the right to know in a world where royals have an almost soap opera status. On health issues, few would argue that the Queen and her family have a right to privacy.

“But on finances, allegations of racism and bullying, I think they need to be addressed in a more transparent way,” Little said. “Otherwise it will reflect badly on the institution. The implication will be that something is being obscured for the benefit of someone.”

Royal finances are complicated. The Queen receives a portion of the Crown Estate’s profits for official expenses through the Sovereign Endowment. She also has private income from the Duchy of Lancaster. Prince Charles receives his income from the estate of the Duchy of Cornwall.

“They call it private when it suits them and they call it public when they want some money from us,” said Norman Baker, former Liberal Democrat minister and author of And What Do You Do? What the royal family doesn’t want you to know.

“Charles, for example, insists that the Duchy of Cornwall is private, but he pays no corporate tax, which any other private estate in the country would pay. So he calls it public when it comes to not paying taxes, but private when it comes to keeping things secret. The Freedom of Information Act, as amended in 2010, tightened exemptions for senior royals, he added.

The distinction between the public and private purse is not always appreciated or understood.

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In the intricate saga of Frogmore Cottage, Harry and Meghan have reimbursed the £2.4 million refurbishment costs paid by the government, but this apparently also covers the rent for the house they use in the UK when visiting from the US. Officials say commercial sensitivity and privacy reasons prevent them from explaining further, but insist the deal “represents” good value for the sovereign grant.

“You could say that if there is no government spending on Frogmore Cottage, we don’t need to know anything about it,” Little said. But it may lead the public to view the royals as not as open as they could be.

“The issue of transparency seems to have deteriorated over a number of years. And in my opinion, an element of doubt about the degree of that transparency has been introduced again,” he added.

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