Prince Harry has attacked the “racial undertones” of British news coverage and social media harassment of his new girlfriend, actress Meghan Markle.
In an unusual statement, the 32-year-old prince says that a line had been crossed in the reporting of his relationship with Meghan, 35, whose mother is black and whose father is white.
“Some of this has been very public,” reads the statement, which also publicly confirms that Harry and Meghan are dating for the first time.
“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 behaviour of the news media is a sensitive topic for Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William. Their mother, Diana, died in Paris in a 1997 car crash when pursued by paparazzi.
The tabloids, however, haven’t pulled any punches since the rumours started flying that Harry was in love again.
At the lower end of the scale, they’ve expressed surprise that a “brunette” would be his type and accused her of not being British enough for him.
At the other end, one ran an article headlined, Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed — so will he be dropping by for tea?
The article then wove together various racial stereotypes, lamenting Meghan’s “gang-scarred” Los Angeles neighborhood of Crenshaw and its “tatty one-story homes,” and listing crime statistics for the area.
Newspapers have been digging up suggestive photographs of Meghan and examining her past relationships, and some comments on their websites and on social media have been explicit and racist.
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her,” the statement continues.
“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,’” the statement continued. “He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his.”
Meghan is best known for her role as Rachel Zane on the Canada-based television legal drama Suits, and she played an F.B.I. agent in the science-fiction series Fringe.
Harry and Meghan are presumed to have met while he was in Toronto for the Invictus Games in May.