This morning, August 14, Kensington Palace issued an open letter about the publication of unauthorized paparazzi photos of Prince George and has requested both the media and the public to stop purchasing them. The letter comes directly from Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry‘s Communications Secretary, Jason Knauf, and is written in first person.
Kensington Palace is issuing this open letter now after one “disturbing but not at all uncommon” incident last week though there have been “an increasing number of incidents of paparazzi harassment of Prince George” in recent months. Kensington Palace hopes this letter will “inform the public discussion around the unauthorised photography of children” and that “those who pay paparazzi photographers for their images of children will be able to better understand the distressing activity around a two-year old boy that their money is fuelling”. As well, KP wants “the readers who enjoy the publications that fuel this market for the unauthorised photos… to understand the tactics deployed to obtain these photos”.
Knauf described the incident last week which prompted this letter:
“A photographer rented a car and parked in a discreet location outside a children’s play area. Already concealed by darkened windows, he took the added step of hanging sheets inside the vehicle and created a hide stocked with food and drinks to get him through a full day of surveillance, waiting in hope to capture images of Prince George. Police discovered him lying down in the boot of the vehicle attempting to shoot photos with a long lens through a small gap in his hide.”
Other incidents in recent months include:
• on multiple occasions used long range lenses to capture images of The Duchess playing with Prince George in a number of private parks;
• monitored the movements of Prince George and his nanny around London parks and monitored the movements of other household staff;
• photographed the children of private individuals visiting The Duke and Duchess’s home;
• pursued cars leaving family homes;
• used other children to draw Prince George into view around playgrounds;
• been found hiding on private property in fields and woodland locations around The Duke and Duchess’s home in Norfolk;
• obscured themselves in sand dunes on a rural beach to take photos of Prince George playing with his grandmother;
• placed locations near the Middleton family home in Berkshire under steady surveillance
William and Kate “have enjoyed sharing an increasing number of photos of their children and look forward to continuing to take them to more public events as they get older” but they “feel strongly that both Prince George and Princess Charlotte should not grow up exclusively behind palace gates and in walled gardens. They want both children to be free to play in public and semi-public spaces with other children without being photographed.”
Basically this letter spends a good amount of time playing on the emotions of other parents in the hopes of getting them on William and Kate’s side.
I take issue with this line from the letter: “[William and Kate] are pleased also that almost all reputable publications throughout the Commonwealth – in particular Australia, Canada, and New Zealand – and in other major media markets like the United States have adopted a similar position.”
And here’s why: Australia and the United States are two of the biggest publishers of these unauthorized photos. In fact, all of the unauthorized photos I have seen have come from either Australia or the United States, save one which came from Germany (but was still People, a US based publication).
So what is KP talking about that OZ and US don’t publish the photos? The photos showed up in People Magazine for heaven’s sake!! Publicist friendly/publicist approved People Magazine!
Here are some responses on Twitter from royal reporters, photographers, and commentators which I would like to share here (both questioning Kensington Palace and agreeing with them).
Richard Palmer, Royal Reporter at the Daily Express:
1) “It can’t be nice for the Cambridges to think every time their children go out someone could be watching but does that go with the territory?”
2) “there are regular phone pics taken in the royal parks etc. Should we all have to turn our backs if we see the royals?”
3) “I think Kensington Palace needs to explain in what circumstances a free press should be able to take photos of the Cambridge family off duty”
4) “The palace’s control freakery has exacerbated the problem. eg Most regular royal photographers were banned from Charlotte’s christening.”
5) “Are we saying nobody’s kids should be photographed anywhere in the world if out in public having fun? Or is it special treatment for royals?”
6) This Tweet is in response to someone asking about W&K not complaining about polo photos: “Yes, they are sort of semi-official. They don’t want to be seen to have arranged a photocall but they’re not going to complain.”
7) “Should newspapers and magazines have run pictures of Mia Tindall, daughter of Mike and Zara, having a tantrum?”
Mark Cuthbert, Royal Photographer:
1) This is in response to a tweet about KP praising British media for not publishing pics: “what about praise for the official photographers who play the game and yet are the only people excluded from the christening?”
Tim Rooke, Royal Photographer for REX:
1) “A couple of decent photocalls a year like the Dutch… or Danish Spanish Swedish would reduce demand of pap pics”
Dickie Arbiter, former press spokesman for the Queen, current royal commentator:
1) “Wake up everyone.Yes it’s about paps and pics with long lenses; It’s about greed over decency but importantly it’s about child protection”
2) “William couldn’t protect his mother, from the paps in August 1997, which is why he is going all out to protect his family no matter the cost”
Victoria Arbiter, royal commentator in US (and daughter of Dickie):
1 & 2) “In their quest to provide as “normal” a childhood as possible I applaud W&K’s desire to allow their children to go beyond palace walls but …if pix are taken in a “public” place they have very little recourse. The threat to security is the greater issue here.”
3 & 4) “Just asked husband if he knew who Pss Estelle was. He had no clue. Euro style photo ops not the answer for the BRF. Stricter rules &… …harsh consequences the only deterrent.”
I don’t know what to make of this whole thing. I have posted about these “unauthorized photos” before, as have other blogs. Though I know some refuse to based on the principle of not posting paparazzi photos. Obviously security is an issue, but some of these reporters/photographers have raised valid questions and points. I’ll have to think about my stance on this issue. What say you guys?
Photos: John Stillwell/AFP / Mario Testino via Kensington Palace / Duchess of Cambridge, Kensington Palace / Kensington Palace