Palace confirms Prince Harry's relationship with Meghan Markle after 'wave of abuse'

Kensington Palace has confirmed Prince Harry's relationship with US actress Megan Markle for the first time as it warned of press "abuse and harassment" of the star.

Prince Harry asked the Palace to issue the statement as he is "worried about Ms Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed he has not been able to protect her".

There has been raging speculation about the Prince's relationship with the Toronto-based 35-year-old divorcee, who is best known for her role as Rachel Zane in US drama Suits.

The statement said Prince Harry is aware that there is "significant curiosity" about his private life and "knows what a fortunate and privileged life he leads".

Prince Harry

However he felt that a "line had been crossed" and Ms Markle, 35, has been subjected to a "wave of abuse".

It detailed how her family, friends, ex-boyfriend and co-workers have been bombarded by press interest.

The statement added: "It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subject to such a storm."

The statement said he is aware that many commentators will argue that "this is the price she has to pay" for dating Prince Harry but he "strongly disagrees".

News of the royal romance emerged just over a week ago when The Sunday Express reported the pair met in May while Harry was in Canada promoting Invictus Games 2017.

Kensington Palace initially said it would not be commenting on private matters.

Toronto-based star Markle neither confirmed nor denied the relationship, but shared a picture of two embracing bananas on Instagram and described herself as the "luckiest girl in the world" in an interview.

Harry has been an eligible bachelor since he split from long-term girlfriend Cressida Bonas more than two years ago.

The 35-year-old actress

Harry's late mother, Diana Princess of Wales, died in a car crash nearly 20 years ago after being pursued by the paparazzi, and he grew up fully aware of the impact of the intense media intrusion on her daily life.

As a young man, he was seen scuffling with a paparazzi photographer.

Meghan Markle is best known for her role in US drama Suits

The 32-year-old former soldier is, however, canny enough to keep the press on side as he promotes his charitable interests and is usually relaxed and at ease in front of the cameras when carrying out public engagements.