Great Britain

‘This is not a game’: Statement from Prince Harry defending Meghan from press resurfaces ahead of Oprah interview

A statement from early on in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship has resurfaced online, in which Harry tears into the British press for crossing “a line” with its over-the-top coverage of the couple.

As interest grew in the relation, Ms Markle was “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,” it reads.

At the time, papers were running front page headlines prying into the relationship and falsely describing images of Ms Markle on the adult site Pornhub, which were really clips from her time as an actress on the drama “Suits”.

Others argued the press was subjecting Ms Markle, who is biracial, the daughter of a white father and an African-American mother, to racist mistreatment across the country’s press.

“Genetically, she is blessed,” one piece at the time of the statement read in the Daily Mail. “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.”

Ahead of Sunday evening’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which the couple is expected to reflect on the media pressure that’s followed their private life, some users online argued the need for Harry to make such a statement revealed a predatory aspect of the British press, using the hashtag #toxicbritishpress.

“Hey #toxicbritishpress you DON’T get to rewrite history and PRETEND you didn’t bully and abuse #MeghanMarkle from the moment you found out she was dating #PrinceHarry,” one user, @maya86b wrote in Twitter, in response to the statement. “Harry released this statement ONE week after their relationship was outed. So sit the f*** down now!

Beyond just what was in the paper, the 2016 statement also reveals a private edge behind much of the scandalous reporting.

“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.”

Following such intense pressure, Prince Harry asked the media to call off the “storm” it was raining on Meghan.

“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,” the statement continues. “This is not a game – it is her life and his.”

It’s safe to say this wish wasn’t exactly honoured in the years that followed. According to early reports about the royal couple’s interview with Oprah, Harry says in the conversation he long feared “history repeating itself,” with Meghan facing the same kind of ravenous press his late mother, Princess Diana, did before she died in a car crash in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.

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