Prince Harry releases forceful statement defending Meghan Markle amid 'relentless propaganda' of British tabloids

Prince Harry released a forceful statement on Tuesday condemning the British tabloid press for spreading "relentless propaganda" about his wife, Meghan Markle, announcing that they're "taking legal action" against Associated Newspapers, the parent company of the Mail on Sunday.

"As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world -- on every level -- we have never needed responsible media more," the statement began. "Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son."

"Though we have continued to put on a brave face -- as so many of you can relate to -- I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper," Harry continued. "Up to now, we have been unable to correct the continual misrepresentations - something that these select media outlets have been aware of and have therefore exploited on a daily and sometimes hourly basis."

The Duke of Sussex went on to say that their legal action "has been many months in the making" and called out the fact that many of the British tabloids spreading "false and malicious" information about Meghan also capitalize on the positive things that she does, like on their current 10-day royal tour of Africa.

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"The positive coverage of the past week from these same publications exposes the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave," he said. "She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you’ve seen on this Africa tour."

"For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long," Harry continued. "To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in."

Harry explained that "this particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media": Back in February, the Daily Mail published a private letter that Duchess Meghan had sent to her father, Thomas Markle, detailing the effect that their "broken" relationship has had on her.

"The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question," he explained. "In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year."

In addition to calling the coverage of his wife "bullying, which scares and silences people," he also said that "there comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives."

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Harry closed his statement by reminding the public that the media's ruthless chasing of his mother is what eventually led to her death in August 1997, as her car was being chased by French paparazzi in Paris.

"Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself," he said. "I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

"We thank you, the public, for your continued support," the statement ended. "It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it."

Harry and Meghan deciding to take legal action against a publication echoes a move made by Harry's brother, Prince William, and his wife, Kate Middleton, who sued celebrity magazine Closer -- as well as two photographers -- who published topless photos of Kate taken in 2012. They were later awarded £91,000 in damages.

Read Prince Harry's statement in full on the official Sussex Royal website.