Britain's Prince Harry confirmed Tuesday he is dating US actress Meghan Markle as he hit out at the "wave of abuse and harassment" she has suffered in recent weeks.
In an unprecedented statement from Kensington Palace, the prince, 32, urged media organisations to refrain from "further damage" as he blasted the smears and "racial undertones" appearing in newspaper articles.
Harry also said he remains uncomfortable with public interest in his private life, which has rocketed since rumours began circulating that he was dating television actress Markle, 35, who is best known for her role as Rachel Zane in the US TV drama "Suits".
"The past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment," said a statement from Harry's communications secretary Jason Knauf.
"Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.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."
A grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and the second son of the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, Harry is fifth in line to the throne.