Prince Harry has confirmed Suits star Meghan Markle is his girlfriend, in a statement from Kensington Palace attacking the media for subjecting the actress to a “wave of abuse and harassment”.
It said Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were “a few months into a relationship” and it was “not right” that the actress should be subjected to such treatment.
The statement said the prince rarely took formal action over “fictional stories”.
“But the past week has seen a line crossed,” it added.
In recent days a number of newspapers have carried front page stories about Meghan Markle, best known for playing Rachel Zane in Suits.
The statement issued by Prince Harry’s communications secretary said: “His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment.
“Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.
“Some of it has been hidden from the public – the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.”
Prince Harry, 32, has long had an uneasy relation with the press, having grown up aware of the impact that intense media intrusion had on the life of his late mother, Diana Princess of Wales.
The statement said Prince Harry was worried about Meghan Markle’s safety and that he “is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her”.
It added: “It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm.
“He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game – it is her life and his.”
The statement ended with Prince Harry appealing for “those in the press who have been driving this story [to] pause and reflect before any further damage is done”.