Harry left furious by 'wave of abuse' at girlfriend
Prince Harry has issued an unprecedented public statement about his new girlfriend, Meghan Markle, raging against "racist and sexist" social media trolls and accusing the media of "crossing a line" in reporting their relationship.
Harry (32) warned the media and people commenting on Twitter and other sites that "this is not a game". While recognising that there is "significant curiosity about his private life", Harry said that Ms Markle (35), who has a black mother and a white father, has been "subject to a wave of abuse and harassment".
The statement was the first official confirmation from Kensington Palace that the Prince was in a relationship with the American actress. It also said that the couple have been together for "a few months".
Harry has always made it clear that he loathes what he regards as intrusive media reporting of his private life, and he does not mince his words when it comes to his criticism of both mainstream and social media. He refers to "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".
The statement adds: "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 abuse.
"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."
Until now, Kensington Palace has adopted a strict "no comment" policy on all inquiries about Ms Markle, refusing to confirm or deny anything that is put to aides.
But Harry said that "the past week has seen a line crossed" with a "wave of abuse and harassment". Harry has been dating Ms Markle since the summer, and told his staff about her in August, when he felt that the relationship had become serious.
The actress was reported to have visited him several times at Kensington Palace, and Harry spent almost a week staying in Toronto with Ms Markle earlier this month.
Contrary to some reports, however, she has not met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, nor has she met the Prince of Wales.