Prince Harry has confirmed he is dating US actress Meghan Markle and condemned the “wave of abuse and harassment” she has faced from the media.
He has urged the UK media to “pause” and consider the impact coverage is having.
Press Gazette understands there are concerns both about UK coverage and harassment in the US. There also concerns that UK coverage is creating a market for content which is produced as a result of harassment abroad.
In a statement, Harry’s Communications Secretary Jason Knauf outlined the difficulties Miss Markle had experienced since news of their relationship broke.
He said: “The past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment.”
He added: “Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.”
Knauf said the Suits star had experienced “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”.
He added that there had also been attempts by members of the press to get into her home.
The press aide said Markle had endured “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.”
Knauf said Harry has, since a child, been very aware of the warmth of public feeling towards him and had to “develop a thick skin” about press interest in his private life, but the Prince felt a line had been crossed and asked for the statement to be issued to prevent any further damage.
“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.
“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.”