The timing of the interview, following the flagship CBS News program “60 Minutes,” would boost its ratings, he said, as will the theme, which will appeal to viewers yearning for an escape after a year of living with the coronavirus.

With that kind of advance hype, Buckingham Palace is steeling itself for a difficult evening. The royal family has a long history of warts-and-all interviews that have reverberated for years afterward.

In 1994, Prince Charles confessed he had cheated on Diana. A year later, Diana told an interviewer, “there were three of us in this marriage.” In 2019, Prince Andrew’s ham-handed defense of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sexual predator, helped send Andrew into exile from public life.

This time, however, Meghan’s reputation in Britain has suffered even before she has uttered a word. The prospect of the interview with Ms. Winfrey, which could cement a narrative about her suffering at the hands of the royal family, prompted former members of her staff to speak to the Times of London about their treatment while working for the couple, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

In October 2018, their communications secretary, Jason Knauf, notified the private secretary of Prince William, Harry’s brother, about incidents in which he said the duchess had manipulated and humiliated staff members, the Times of London said. The private secretary, Simon Case, is now the cabinet secretary, one of the most powerful posts in the British government.

Staff members were also dismayed, the newspaper said, when Meghan wore a pair of earrings to a formal dinner in Fiji that had been given to her as a wedding gift by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, three weeks after the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. An American intelligence report released this week concluded that the prince had approved the assassination.

A spokeswoman for the couple said Meghan was “deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” She did not address questions about the earrings.

In its statement on the bullying claims, Buckingham Palace said, “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not, and will not, tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.”

For Buckingham Palace to be dragged into a dispute like this is exceedingly awkward. That has sown doubts that the queen or Prince Charles are behind efforts to discredit Meghan. They are more likely to be preoccupied by Prince Philip, 99, who is recovering from a heart procedure in a London hospital.

But relations between William and Harry continue to be deeply strained, according to people with ties to the palace. Longtime observers of the royal family said that when disputes like this erupt into the open, it usually suggests that someone — either senior palace officials or a family member — did nothing to stop it.

“This tap could be turned off,” Mr. Hunt said. “The Buckingham Palace bit of it could be turned off in a nanosecond.”

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