LONDON — Prince Harry attacked on Tuesday the “racial undertones” of British press coverage of his new girlfriend, the American actress Meghan Markle, in an unusual statement issued by his press secretary.
In the statement, the prince, the 32-year-old grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, said that “a line had been crossed” in reporting of his burgeoning relationship with Ms. Markle, 35, who lives in Toronto and describes herself as biracial. The statement also denounced offensive commentary about her in social media.
“Some of this has been very public,” read the statement, issued by the prince’s spokesman, Jason Knauf. “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 was a fierce condemnation of Britain’s freewheeling tabloids, which received sharp criticism last week for coverage of three High Court judges who ruled that Parliament must have a say before the government applies to leave the European Union. The Daily Mail, in particular, came under fire for a cover that called the three judges “Enemies of the People.”
The prince’s statement, which confirmed his long-rumored relationship with Ms. Markle, expressed fears for her safety and privacy. It also noted that his office had regularly fought to keep defamatory stories out of the newspapers, which have offered large bribes, he charged, to her ex-boyfriend.
Prince Harry has criticized the press before, but never in such an angry and formal fashion. As the more “fun-loving” brother of William, who is after only Prince Charles in the line to the throne, the bearded Prince Harry has gotten into trouble in the past, with leaked photos of parties in Las Vegas in 2012, for instance.
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her,” the statement said. “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. 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.”
She described herself as “biracial” in an August 2015 interview with Elle magazine, saying, “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African-American. I’m half black and half white.”
Ms. Markle, who graduated in 2003 from Northwestern University, was married in 2011 and divorced two years later, a fact that has also been the source of attention from the news media.
She has been involved in charitable work with nongovernmental organizations. Ms. Markle became the Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada this year, traveling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign, and she has worked for gender equality and women’s empowerment.