Prince William and Kate Middleton have taken the unprecedented step of issuing an open letter in a sign of their increasing desperation as they seek to protect their children from the “dangerous” and “distressing” tactics of press photographers.
In it they expressed the fear that if press photographers cannot be controlled, Prince George and Princess Charlotte could end up spending most of their childhoods “behind palace gates and in walled gardens”.
They also warned a photographer could end up getting mistaken for a security threat and shot.
In a sign that the missive is likely to fall on deaf ears, press photographers and royal journalists were quick to take to Twitter to defend themselves and rubbish the royal claims.
The extraordinary and unprecedented letter is being shared with the public in the hope that it will provoke readers of tabloid magazines which publish the pap shots along with ‘cutesy’ commentary about the family to consider the distress the photos of George are causing the family.
In the letter, penned by their media adviser Jason Knauff and published on their official website, the royal parents say that paparazzi have been found hiding in sand dunes near the family’s Norfolk home in an attempt to take photographs of Prince George playing with his grandmother, Carole Middleton.
In the letter, William and Kate expressed their gratitude to British media organisations for their policy of not publishing unauthorised photos of their children, adding that “news photographers have had several recent opportunities to take photos of the family and these will be a regular occurrence as both children get older.”
However, the letter goes on to warn that “paparazzi photographers are going to increasingly extreme lengths to observe and monitor Prince George's movements and covertly capture images of him to sell to the handful of international media titles still willing to pay for them.
“One recent incident—just last week—was disturbing, but not at all uncommon. 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.”
The palace said paparazzi had also “monitored the movements of Prince George and his nanny around London parks… 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 and placed locations near the Middleton family home in Berkshire under steady surveillance.”
The letter stated that Prince George is currently the “number one target” of photographers and said, “A line has been crossed and any further escalation in tactics would represent a very real security risk.”
On a human level, William and Kate, the letter said, were “concerned about their ability to provide a childhood for Prince George and Princess Charlotte that is free from harassment and surveillance.”
William and Kate, the letter said, are aghast at the idea that “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.”
“Many people who read and enjoy the publications that fuel the market for unauthorised photos of children do not know about the unacceptable circumstances behind what are often lovely images. The use of these photos is usually dressed up with fun, positive language about the ‘cute’, ‘adorable’ photos and happy write ups about the family. We feel readers deserve to understand the tactics deployed to obtain these pictures.”
The palace is taking a big risk by effectively asking the public to boycott magazines which publish pap pics of George.
Will it work? Unlikely. The letter looks rather pathetic, and the ‘poor me’ tone is unlikely to impress anyone.
But one can fully understand why Wiliam and Kate would be prepared to give it a shot.