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Prince Harry condemns media 'abuse' of American girlfriend

Published:Wednesday | November 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM
In this Thursday July 7, 2016 file photo, Britain's Prince Harry takes part in a round table discussion with HIV doctors at King's College Hospital in south London as part of his desire to learn more and raise public awareness in the fight against HIV and AIDS both internationally and in the UK. Britain's Prince Harry has condemned racist abuse and harassment of his girlfriend Meghan Markle in the media, issuing a highly unusual statement yesterday that confirmed the relationship and expressed concern for her safety.
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 file photo, Meghan Markle arrives at USA Network and The Moth's "A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power" Characters Unite storytelling event in West Hollywood, California. Prince Harry has condemned racist abuse and harassment of his girlfriend Meghan Markle in the media, issuing a highly unusual statement yesterday that confirmed the relationship and expressed concern for her safety. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
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LONDON, England (AP):

It's the British royals versus the press - again - and Prince Harry thinks enough is enough.

In a highly unusual statement, the prince yesterday lashed out at the media for intruding on the privacy of his new girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle.

The 32-year-old royal said the press had crossed a line with articles that had "racial undertones," and pleaded: "This is not a game."

The condemnation was the latest in an often uneasy dance between Britain's royals and an international press hungry for any tidbit about royal scandal or courtship. Both Harry and his brother, Prince William, have spoken candidly about their distrust of the media: Their mother, Princess Diana, died in a 1997 car accident while being pursued by paparazzi, and William's wife, Kate, was relentlessly scrutinised for years before the couple married in 2011.

It looks like nothing has changed.

Kensington Palace described how journalists tried to break into Markle's home, how newspapers offered "substantial bribes" to her ex-boyfriend, and said nearly everyone she knows has been bombarded for information. Markle's mother couldn't even get to her front door without jostling reporters.

"What is extraordinary about this letter is the level of ethical conduct breaches it details," said Steven Barnett, a communications professor at the University of Westminster. "You have to feel something for Harry, who is presumably thinking of his mother and what she had to put up with."

Markle, 35, is best known for her role as a feisty paralegal in the US television drama "Suits."

Many tabloids alluded to her mixed-race heritage - she has an African-American mother and a white father. One Daily Mail headline described her ancestors as "a tailor, a teacher and a cleaner in racially divided Jim Crow South." Another dubbed her a "saucy divorcee".

The Daily Mirror linked Markle with an online pornography site, saying clips of her from "Suits" featured on the adult site.

Markle has so far not responded, but has in the past written about how she came to terms with being a "biracial woman."