Prince Harry Publicly Defends Girlfriend Meghan Markle

Prince Harry confirmed his relationship with actress Meghan Markle—and, in a nearly unprecedented move, swept in on a white horse to condemn critics and the media for attacking her.

Harry, 32, released a lengthy statement via his communications secretary, Jason Knauf, about the online harassment and racially charged media addressed at his new love and even her family members. Because the statement is rather unprecedented and extraordinary for a royal like Prince Harry, we're posting it in full. Here's what it says:

"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. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been 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. 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.

"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.

"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."

It's a bold move from the prince, who didn't previously confirm his relationship with Suits star Markle, 35, until he came to her defense. As Nicki Swift previously reported, Markle's half-sister attacked her in the press, and several outlets made distasteful remarks about her being bi-racial and having a "visibly black" mother.

"With the racial undertones and the harassment against her family, Harry felt it was not acceptable for him to say nothing," a source told Us Weekly. "This isn't about speculation about their relationship...This is not all media."

Even experts on the royals are a little surprised by Harry's gumption and chivalry in the matter. "It's a very unusual step, I can't think of a precedent for it in recent years," Joe Little, editor of Majesty magazine, told the Associated Press (via Page Six). "Some would regard this is something he should put up with, but that's not in his nature." It sounds like Markle has a Prince Charming indeed.