London: Britain's Prince Harry issued a rare statement on Tuesday to criticize the media for intruding into the private life of his new American girlfriend, actress Meghan Markle, saying the press had subjected her to "a wave of abuse and harassment".
British newspapers have been running daily stories about Markle since news emerged that the 35-year-old actress was dating the prince, 32, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth.
In the unusually forthright statement issued by Harry's office which confirmed the relationship for the first time, the prince's Communications Secretary said they had fought nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories from appearing in papers.
"He has rarely taken formal action on the very regular publication of fictional stories that are written about him and he has worked hard to develop a professional relationship with the media," the statement said.
"But the past week has seen a line crossed. 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."
Harry has spoken out before about his dislike of the press and the statement said that while he appreciated he lived a privileged life, he felt he had to speak out.
"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."