Prince Harry’s fractious relationship with his older brother, Prince William, got plenty of airtime in Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan‘s second volume. In no section is Meghan and Harry’s disgust over William’s behavior more apparent than when the two discovered that their former communications secretary Jason Knauf, who also worked with Kate Middleton and William, had given a witness statement in Meghan’s lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday‘s publishers.
Knauf ultimately left his role working as the chief executive of William and Kate’s Royal Foundation in May 2021; he had been working for William and Kate for seven years after first joining in February 2015 as a Kensington Palace communications secretary.
He also is believed to be the person who allegedly submitted bullying allegations against Meghan to the Palace, which kicked off an investigation into the claims in March 2021, right before the couple’s Oprah interview aired. While the Palace never made the results of that bullying investigation, completed this year, public, a source told Us Weekly in July 2022 that the investigation cleared her.
“Meghan is a fair boss and never bullied anyone who worked for her at the Palace in the first place,” that source said. “She’s happy that her name has been cleared from the defamatory claims. She and Harry are looking forward to putting the incident behind them and are happily moving on with their lives in Montecito.”
Harry also addressed the bullying investigation in the docuseries, calling it the result of him and Meghan speaking truth to power. “I can’t think what my mom [Princess Diana] went through all those years ago by herself,” he started. “To see this institutional gaslighting that happens, it’s extraordinary. And that’s why everything that has happened to us was always going to happen to us because if you speak truth to power, that’s how they respond.”
Meghan ultimately won her Mail on Sunday lawsuit, but when the couple learned that Knauf gave a witness statement and provided texts Meghan had sent him (she had consulted him on the phrasing of the letter), they became emotional. In the witness statement, Knauf wrote he had taken a “position of neutrality,” but gave details on the correspondence he and Meghan had, which the Mail on Sunday‘s lawyers hoped to use to bolster their case. You can read more about what he said in his statement here.
When learning about Knauf’s statement, a distraught Meghan told Harry, “So how do we deal with that? It’s your brother. I’m not gonna say anything about your brother, but it’s so obvious…”
“It’s even more obvious that they’ll try and cover it up. Again, ‘Jason, the former aide of Meghan and Harry,’” Harry said. A friend with them asked why the press was calling Knauf Meghan’s former aide when he still worked for William at the time.
“That’s why I’m now living in a different country,” Harry answered. “Because all the comms teams try to outdo each other, but this is the contract, the symbiotic relationship between the two institutions working the best that they can. ”
Meghan discussing William’s role in potentially authorizing the witness statement with Harry in the series.
Meghan ultimately won her case. Her lawyer Jenny Afia touched on the real reason Knauf likely submitted the statement: to damage Meghan’s reputation.
“When we were just about to go to the court of appeal, a senior member of the Duke of Cambridge’s team came forward to give this witness statement, which wasn’t required,” Afia said. “And sadly there’s just no way he could’ve done that without the authority of his bosses.”
“The witness statement had no legal significance on the case whatsoever other than to vindicate a lot of what Meghan had been saying about how the letter was never intended to be published,” Afia continued. “But it was filed because the impact on Meghan’s reputation was potentially damaging. The reporting skewered things to make it look falsely as if Meghan had lied, which she absolutely hadn’t.”
“As has been proven time and time again,” Harry said after, “there’s an incentive for the British media to get you to trial. Because they can make so much money, and it creates a circus around it, which is exactly what they did here. And if we don’t have the resource or the capability or the capacity to able to stand up to those people then no one else does.”
At the end of the documentary, a statement from a rep for Knauf appeared, along with a rebuttal from Meghan’s legal team.
Of the allegation he submitted a voluntary witness statement with the consent of Prince William’s office, Knauf’s rep said: “These claims are entirely false. Mr. Knauf was asked to provide evidence by both the Duchess of Sussex and Associated Newspapers. He was advised by counsel that evidence in his possession could be relevant and he then provided this directly to the court, saying neutral in the process.”
Meghan’s attorneys responded to his statement with one of their own: “The legal team for “Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, disputes this claim. Mr. Knauf was not asked to provide a witness statement by the Duchess of her team. Nor do her attorneys believe Mr. Knauf remained ‘neutral’ by submitting a witness statement relied on by Associated Newspapers whilst working for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge [William and Kate].”
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.