In 2000, Prince William told members of the press that he felt his late mother was "still being exploited"

By Tim McGovern
October 01, 2019 05:11 PM
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Prince Harry issued a strong defense of his wife Meghan Markle following the “ruthless” treatment she’s received in British tabloids ⁠— a defense that is strikingly reminiscent to how his brother Prince William defended their late mother Princess Diana, almost 19 years ago to the day.

In a statement on Tuesday, Harry said, “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.”

While a legal spokesperson from Schillings, who is representing the Duchess of Sussex, confirmed that the royal couple are pursuing legal action against the Mail on Sunday and its parent company Associated Newspapers, Harry continued in his statement, “There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and 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.”

Almost exactly 19 years ago, Prince William offered up a similarly powerful criticism of how the press had been covering his late mother’s life, especially in light of the publication of Shadows of a Princess, a controversial book written by Princess Diana’s onetime royalsmost senior aide, Patrick Jephson.

In response to a question asked about the “recent press coverage of [his] late mother” at his father’s Highgrove estate in rural Gloucestershire in Sep. 2000, Prince William commented publicly on his late mother for the first time since her death, saying, “Of course, Harry and I are both quite upset about it, that our mother’s trust has been betrayed and that even now she is still being exploited. But, um, I don’t really want to say any more than that.”

Prince Harry, Prince William, Princess Diana, Mehgan
Princess Diana, Prince William, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
| Credit: Terry Fincher/Getty Images; Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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Echoing Prince William’s mention of exploitation of Princess Diana in the press, Harry added in his statement on Tuesday that he felt the press took advantage of the fact that they couldn’t correct any inaccurate coverage of the Duchess of Sussex and himself.

“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,” Harry said.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga/PA Images

Harry also evoked and alluded to the treatment of his late mother in the press, saying of the royal couple’s legal actions, “Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. 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.”

This isn’t the first time Prince Harry has leapt to the defense of his wife. In 2016, Harry released another statement criticizing the racist and sexist abuse Meghan had endured after the two went public with their relationship.

A source recently told PEOPLE that whenever they see negative headlines involving either of them, they come closer together.

“They definitely lean on each other during challenging times,” a source recently told PEOPLE.

Harry concluded his statement, saying, “We thank you, the public, for your continued support. It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it.”