Prince Harry blasts media intrusion over new girlfriend
Relationship with actress Meghan Markle has brought 'wave of abuse,' statement says
Prince Harry issued a rare statement on Tuesday to criticize the media for intruding into the private life of his new girlfriend, actress Meghan Markle, saying the press had subjected her to "a wave of abuse and harassment."
British newspapers have been running daily stories about Markle since news emerged that the 35-year-old American, who is based in Toronto, was dating the 32-year-old grandson of Queen Elizabeth.
This is not a game — it is her life and his.- Statement from Prince Harry's office
In the unusually forthright statement issued by Harry's office that confirmed the relationship for the first time, the prince's communications secretary said they had fought nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories from appearing in papers.
"He has rarely taken formal action on the very regular publication of fictional stories that are written about him and he has worked hard to develop a professional relationship with the media," the statement said.
"But the past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment.
Kensington Palace has issued a statement this morning about the harassment currently being experienced by Meghan Markle and her family. <a href="https://t.co/EuFZ4fmUIj">pic.twitter.com/EuFZ4fmUIj</a>—@KensingtonRoyal
"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."
One British headline dubbed Markle a "saucy divorcee," while another piece juxtaposed their ancestors, describing hers as "a tailor, a teacher and a cleaner in racially-divided Jim Crow South — while his were ruling the British Empire."
Markle, whose mother is black and whose father is white, wrote in a 2015 article in Elle magazine about being biracial.
"While my mixed heritage may have created a gray area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that," she wrote. "To say who I am, to share where I'm from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman."
'Subjected to such a storm'
Harry has spoken out before about his dislike of the press, and the most recent statement said that while he appreciated he lived a privileged life, he felt he had to speak out.
"It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm," the statement said.
"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."
Markle appears on the U.S. series Suits and has a clothing line with the retail chain Reitmans. She is an ambassador for Canada's World Vision clean water campaign and attended the One Young World Summit in Ottawa this September to help promote youth leadership alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Some royal watchers have suggested Markle might have connected with Harry through their volunteer work, possibly when he was in Toronto to launch the Invictus Games in May.
With files from CBC News and the Associated Press