Home International Prince Harry lambasts press over coverage of girlfriend Meghan Markle

Prince Harry lambasts press over coverage of girlfriend Meghan Markle


Royal attacks ‘racial undertones’ of British press coverage of relationship with the American actor

November 8, 2016: Prince Harry has attacked the “racial undertones” of press coverage of his girlfriend Meghan Markle in an extraordinary statement in which he warns that he fears for her safety.

The prince said “a line has been crossed” in reporting of his relationship with the 35-year-old American actor, who lives in Toronto.

“Some of this has been very public,” his spokesman said in a statement. “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 confirms for the first time that the pair are in a relationship but launches a powerful and unprecedented attack at the media by the prince.

“Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her,” it 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’. 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.”

The actor, whose father is white and mother is African-American, has written about her heritage on her own website, describing herself as biracial and “half black and half white”. Her father, Thomas Markle, is a lighting director who worked on the US TV show Married with Children, while her mother, Doria Ragland is a social worker and yoga therapist. The couple reportedly divorced when she was six.

The palace declined to specify which press coverage it objects to. It is understood aides were particularly concerned about some of the widespread coverage in the weekend papers but again did not cite particular articles.

One comment piece in last weekend’s Mail on Sunday, by Rachel Johnson, said: “Genetically, she is blessed. If there is issue from her alleged union with Prince Harry, the Windsors will thicken their watery, thin blue blood and Spencer pale skin and ginger hair with some rich and exotic DNA.”

The Sun front page. Photograph: Sun
The Sun front page. Photograph: Sun

On Wednesday, the Sun ran a headline above an interview with Markle’s sister, saying: “Don’t fall for my little sis Harry, she’d be the next princess pushy”. On Friday, it headlined a story on its front page “Harry’s girlfriend on Pornhub”, a reference to the internet pornography site.

News UK, publisher of the Sun and Sun on Sunday, declined to comment. Senior staff indicated they were trawling through the domestic and international coverage to understand the detail of Prince Harry’s concerns over trolling and harassment of her family.

The prince’s statement also attacked what it called “substantial bribes offered by papers” to Markle’s former boyfriend.

Kensington Palace listed a string of complaints it had about the conduct of newspapers, citing:

  • “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.
  • And the “bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life”.

The statement said: “Since he was young, Prince Harry has been very aware of the warmth that has been extended to him by members of the public. He feels lucky to have so many people supporting him and knows what a fortunate and privileged life he leads. He is also aware that there is significant curiosity about his private life.

“He has never been comfortable with this, but he has tried to develop a thick skin about the level of media interest that comes with it. 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, focused on his work and the issues he cares about.

“But the past week has seen a line crossed.”

A source at one tabloid newspaper said it had not been engaged in nightly battles with palace lawyers, as Prince Harry’s statement suggests.