LONDON • Britain's Prince Harry has confirmed that he is dating American actress Meghan Markle as he hit out at the "wave of abuse and harassment" she has suffered in recent weeks.
In an unprecedented statement from Kensington Palace, the prince, 32, urged media organisations to refrain from "further damage" as he blasted the smears and "racial undertones" appearing in newspaper articles.
Prince Harry also said he remained uncomfortable with public interest in his private life, which has rocketed since rumours began circulating that he was dating television actress Markle, 35, whose father is white and mother is African American. The star is best known for her role as Rachel Zane in the US television drama Suits.
"The past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment," said the statement from Prince Harry's communications secretary Jason Knauf.
The statement went on to describe "nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers", Ms Markle's mother "having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door", attempted illegal entry to the actress' house by the media and "substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend".
"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," the statement said.
"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."
Prince Harry is a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and the second son of the heir to the throne, Prince Charles. He is fifth in line to the throne.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS