PRINCE Harry feared Meghan Markle would dump him if he didn’t slam the media over its treatment of the Duchess, it is claimed.
The Duke of Sussex issued a furious statement in 2016, attacking the media for the coverage his then girlfriend Meghan and alleging she had been “subject to a wave of abuse and harassment”.
It has now been claimed that Harry told his office to put out a statement slamming the media over fears Meghan would leave him.
The statement, written by Harry’s communications secretary Jason Knauf, condemned “the racial undertones of comment pieces” and “the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments”.
The Duke issued the statement as he was reportedly “freaking out” that Meghan would dump him.
His team are said to have felt no choice but to mount a full-on defence of Meghan – claims denied by a spokeswoman for the couple.
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A source told The Times: “It did feel like that if the palace was not able to stand up and support his girlfriend, against some of that disgusting coverage… then who in their right mind would ever consider entering into a relationship [with him] in the future?
“He was very exercised about some of that coverage.
“He definitely felt that if nothing was done to support here, then she would be, ‘I’m not sure this is what I signed up for’.”
Another source told the newspaper: “He was freaking out, saying, ‘she’s going to dump me’.”
A spokeswoman for the couple told The Times claims were categorically false.
It comes as Harry and Meghan have been asked to present an award at next weekend’s Oscars.
The couple were approached at the end of last year and offered the pick of gongs.
It is understood they are being lined up to reveal Best Picture – the most coveted category of the night.
If the Duke does attend, he is sure to face outcry from royal fans – coming after he pulled out of Prince Philip’s memorial service in London.
Organisers had initially considered the pair to present the Best Actress gong – but this was ruled out because actress Kristen Stewart is nominated for her role in Spencer, a movie about Princess Diana’s life.
A US source said: “Harry and Meghan were first approached two years ago for the ceremony but politely declined.
“Obviously they’d be a huge coup this year, and could use their appearance to make an impassioned speech of their choosing, most likely Ukraine.
“Show producers Will Packer and Shayla Cowan have lined up some amazing A-list names to take to the stage and Harry and Meghan would be the icing on the cake.
“It’s still up in the air, but in all likelihood — especially in the wake of recent publicity — Harry won’t attend.
“It would be seen as a final kick in the teeth for the royal family if he did — he’s too nervous to fly to London without police protection, but happy to stand up in front of a huge live audience at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Not great optics.”
Meanwhile, Meghan’s first Spotify podcast series will be launched this summer after she and Harry raised concerns about Covid misinformation on the platform.
The couple have signed an £18million deal with Spotify but have so far only recorded one show.
Footage was also released of Harry making a video call with Ukrainian staff from landmine clearance organisation the Halo Trust.
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The Sussexes’ Archewell foundation has made donations to a number of groups working on the ground to provide aid to Ukrainians, including Halo.
Princess Diana famously walked through a mined field Halo was clearing in Angola in 1997.