Prince Harry has taken the extraordinary step of issuing a statement in which he both acknowledges Meghan Markle as his girlfriend for the first time, and makes clear his distress over the media’s treatment of her, with very strong language referring to the “sexism” and “racism” to which she has been subjected.
Since the relationship between the Prince and the US actress was revealed just over a week ago, Meghan has been the object of intense speculation in the press, and now Harry has issued a statement through his communications secretary, asking people to go a bit more gently on her.
The statement, which was issued this morning, includes reference to Harry’s existing warm relationship with the media, even though “he has never been comfortable” about their interest in his private life.
It goes on:
“But the past week has seen a line crossed. 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.
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm… This is not a game - it is her life and his.”
In the ten days since the US actress became known as the latest woman in Harry’s life, the statement details the intrusion she has experienced.
It goes on: “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.”
It is a sign of both Prince Harry’s loyalty and anger that he has been moved to issue this statement, something he acknowledges himself.
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. 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 - it is her life and his.
“He has asked for this statement to be issued in the hopes that those in the press who have been driving this story can pause and reflect before any further damage is done. He knows that it is unusual to issue a statement like this, but hopes that fair-minded people will understand why he has felt it necessary to speak publicly.”
Read the full statement from Kensington Palace below...