British royal Prince Harry has issued a rare statement to implore the press to stop harassing his new girlfriend, actress Meghan Markle.

It was first reported on 30 October that the 32-year-old was dating the star of TV legal drama Suits, who he reportedly met in Toronto, Canada in May while visiting the city to promote the 2017 Invictus Games.

The speculation reached fever pitch in the subsequent days and she was reportedly given a police guard to keep her safe outside her home. On Tuesday Prince Harry’s communications secretary uncharacteristically spoke out on his behalf to implore the press to stop harassing his new girlfriend as he is concerned for the 35-year-old actress’ safety.

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“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment,” the statement reads. “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.

“Some of it has been hidden from the public – the nightly legal battle to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get her to the 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 to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.”

The statement adds Prince Harry is “deeply disappointed” he has not been able to protect her and while he understands the curiosity into his personal life, he thinks the behavior of the press has crossed a line.

“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,” it continues.

“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 felt it necessary to speak publicly.”

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