A former royal aide who made a bullying complaint against Meghan Markle has been recognised for his service to the monarchy in the New Year Honours. Jason Knauf has been made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (RVO) after working as communications secretary for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Prince William and Kate.
He ended his career with the Royal Household as chief executive of the Prince and Princess of Wales’s Royal Foundation, stepping down at the end of 2021.
In October 2018, Mr Knauf emailed his concerns about Meghan to William’s then private secretary, in an apparent attempt to force Buckingham Palace to protect staff.
The Duchess’s legal team have in the past strenuously denied bullying allegations.
Honours within the RVO are in the King’s gift and are bestowed independently of Downing Street to people who have served the monarch or the Royal Family in a personal way.
In the Sussexes’ recent bombshell Netflix show, Meghan’s lawyer claimed the former aide could not have given evidence in her copyright lawsuit against a newspaper publisher “without the authority of his bosses”.
Meghan had successfully sued ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle in August 2018.
Evidence from Mr Knauf, Harry and Meghan’s former communications secretary who at the time was a key aide of William and Kate, was relied upon by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) as it appealed against the Duchess’s legal victory.
A High Court judge ruled in Meghan’s favour last year without a full trial, but ANL argued the case should go to a trial, with the publisher’s lawyers arguing new evidence from Mr Knauf suggested the Duchess wrote the letter with the understanding that it could be leaked.
The challenge was dismissed by Court of Appeal judges.
During the explosive six-part series, Harry said there were attempts to try to “cover” the aide’s association with his older brother, with Mr Knauf being described as a “former aide of Meghan and Harry” as opposed to, at the time, working as chief executive of William and Kate’s Royal Foundation.
A written statement from Mr Knauf’s legal team broadcast during the Netflix episode 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, staying neutral in the process.”
Before joining the Royal Household the American-born former corporate affairs executive worked for a range of institutions, from the office of the New Zealand prime minister to HM Treasury and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
He became the communications secretary to the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Harry in 2015, before leading the press team for Meghan and Harry and later becoming a senior adviser to William and Kate.
Mr Knauf led a review of the Royal Foundation’s role and structure from March 2019, before becoming its chief executive in September of that year.
During his time Mr Knauf oversaw the launch of William’s Earthshot Prize, now an independent charity, which recognises solutions, ideas and technologies that “repair the planet”.