Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II's grandson, has issued an appeal to the press and social-media commentators to end "the wave of abuse and harassment" that has been directed in the past few weeks at his new girlfriend, Hollywood actress Meghan Markle, her friends and family.
Markle, best known for her role as Rachel Zane in legal drama Suits, and Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, have been dating since June, according to US Weekly, although news of the relationship only began to circulate widely in the past few weeks.
According to a statement issued recently by his communications secretary, Prince Harry, who is fifth in line to the British throne, is concerned about the racist nature of much of the coverage. Markle is biracial, with a Caucasian father and African-American mother.
The statement asserts that media interest in the affair had crossed a line. "His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. 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 goes on to catalogue the intrusive nature of the press pursuit of the story, and the battle by the royal family's staff to protect Markle.
"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."
Markle is a Los Angeles native, but now lives in Toronto, Canada. Her mother, social worker and yoga therapist Doria Ragland, lives in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, where the press have been laying siege. For example, Ragland was approached recently outside her home by a Daily Mail journalist, who later reported: "When told her daughter would make history if she did marry Prince Harry – becoming the first mixed-race woman ever to join the royal family, Ragland chuckled but added: 'No. Look, I really can't say anything'."
The royal statement concludes by expressing the prince's fears for the actress' safety. "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. 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."
Markle, a graduate of Northwestern University's theatre programme, is best known for her television work, with recurring and guest starring roles on Fringe, Without A Trace, CSI: NY, CSI: Miami, The League, among others. Her movie credits include Get Him To The Greek, where she appeared opposite Jonah Hill and Russell Brand; Summit's Remember Me, with Robert Pattinson; and Universal's A Lot Like Love, opposite Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet.
Most recently, Markle appeared in New Line Cinema's Horrible Bosses, with an ensemble cast including Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis. – Reuters/Leo Barraclough
Kensington Palace has issued a statement this morning about the harassment currently being experienced by Meghan Markle and her family. pic.twitter.com/EuFZ4fmUIj
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 8, 2016