In an unprecedented move, Prince Harry has released a statement asking the press to stop harassing actress Meghan Markle – also confirming the two are dating.
Never before has Harry taken this step to protect a girlfriend from media harassment, but it is evident he believes ‘this week a line has been crossed’.
Speculation about the couple has been circulating for a week or two, saying that Meghan – who stars in US legal drama Suits – has already met Prince Charles, that the pair are happy and have been dating since the summer.
“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,” the statement says.
It then goes on to describe some of the behaviour of the press, which will be surprising to many: “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.”
The statement said the Prince was worried about Meghan’s safety and that he “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. This is not a game – it is her life and his.”
The Middleton family launched legal proceedings when the then Kate Middleton was hounded by photographers when she was dating Prince William, and the Royal lawyers, too, made moves to prevent harassment.
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”.
Cressida Bonas, Harry’s last girlfriend, was also subject to many news stories and gossip magazines, but it seems the American factor has played a part here.