— -- Kensington Palace has issued an unprecedented statement acknowledging Prince Harry's relationship with girlfriend Meghan Markle and lambasting the “abuse and harassment” of the American actress by sections of the press, making particular note of the “racial undertones” of some coverage.
Markle, 35, has spoken proudly of her biracial heritage, born to a white father and black mother.
"The past week has seen a line crossed," Kensington Palace said in the statement. "His girlfriend Meghan Markle has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment."
Kensington Palace also noted that Harry, 32, has been tolerant in the past but said the press has gone too far and Harry now is concerned about Markle's safety.
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her," the statement read. "It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm."
Markle is the star of the USA network legal drama "Suits." She lives in Los Angeles and Toronto, where "Suits" is filmed.
Kensington Palace's statement, the first time Kensington Palace has confirmed Harry and Markle's relationship, condemned the media and the public for sexist and racist slurs against Markle.
"Some of this has been very public," Kensington Palace said of the abuse Markle has suffered. "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 extraordinary statement from Kensington Palace also accuses news organizations of behaving disgracefully, stalking Markle and her family and violating their privacy.
This is the second time Kensington Palace had issued a strongly-worded statement against the media.
They also went on the offensive last year when they had similar concerns about journalists crossing the line with Harry's niece and nephew, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
"In recent months, there have been an increasing number of incidents of paparazzi harassment of Prince George, and the tactics being used are increasingly dangerous," Kensington Palace said in an August 2015 statement.
Kensington Palace said today's statement on Markle came at the request of Prince Harry who, “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.”