On Friday, details of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s latest efforts to protect the privacy of their children were revealed: a 1.5 miles no-fly zone around their home, Anmer Hall.
In reality, it’s more than just a safety precaution for the Royal Family; it will also serve to protect the Cambridges and their children from drone photography.
The Norfolk no-fly zone is just the latest trench to be dug in Prince William’s long war against the paparazzi.
Unfortunately, his campaign is having the unintended and unhappy consequence of turning his progeny into the most sheltered and hidden royal children in several generations, barely seen in public at all.
In August, Kensington Palace released an emotional letter, penned at William and Kate’s behest. It warned that if the “dangerous and distressing” tactics of paparazzi photographers pursuing the royal children were not curtailed, Prince George and Princess Charlotte would be at risk of growing up, “exclusively behind palace gates and in walled gardens.”
When pictures emerged last week of Prince George and Princess Charlotte peeking out from behind the wrought iron gates of Kensington Palace at the landing of a helicopter containing their great aunt, Princess Anne, it was seen by many as evidence that the warning had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The pictures were a heartbreaking illustration of the secluded life these children now lead, as William and Kate’s obsession with preventing them from being photographed plays out to its natural conclusion: total isolation.
It was after Carole Middleton was photographed twice in swift succession with her grandson over the summer--on a day out at the beach and then at a petting zoo--that the shutters came down at Cambridge towers.
While many have at least some sympathy for Kate and William’s plight, many now feel that their efforts to “protect” the children from being photographed are becoming hugely counterproductive.
Put simply, because people all have cameras these days, the Cambridges’ solution to the problem is that the children are shielded from all people.
Is such a sheltered, hidden life really any better than pictures of the children appearing in the newspaper and on Instagram?
After all, one can’t imagine the appearance of such pictures would have hugely damaging effects on the children.
Yes, William and Kate might resent that their children’s lives are becoming “public property.” However, their paparazzi battle has become more about their getting what they want than the children’s best chance of living a normal life.
It may be annoying and upsetting for the kids to have camera phones pointed at them all day, but, as William and Kate must surely understand, that is going to happen to them for their whole lives, regardless of any government-enforced no-fly zones.
Might it not be wiser to accept that trying to stop people from taking photographs of the children is futile and, rather, encourage Prince George and Princess Charlotte to get used to it?
Sources tell the Daily Beast that William is constantly furious at media intrusion into his family’s life.
Diana’s eldest believes his mother’s death was caused by paparazzi. It’s no wonder that he was, apparently, the driving force behind the recent Kensington Palace letter regarding the children, just as he was behind the “legal action” taken against a still-unnamed photographer who snapped pictures of Kate sunbathing topless in France in 2012.
Those efforts have now been quietly shelved and forgotten as the utter impossibility of pursuing the case to a successful conclusion became clear.
This latest Royal Family measure may be much more about William’s hatred of the press in general and the paparazzi in particular than anything else.
Yes, of course, the desire to protect his children is utterly genuine, but is he really going about it the right way? The policy of “We won’t let anyone take their picture without our consent. Ever” is as ridiculous as it is doomed to failure.
It is also an utterly self-defeating strategy in terms of the harassment levels the family endures.
After all, the price publications will pay for a clear set of pictures of Charlotte and George will likely rise with each day that goes by without those photographs turning up in a picture editor’s inbox. A threat to “accidentally” shoot photographers pursuing the royals doesn’t appear to have stopped anyone either.
The key step in the Cambridges’ increasing isolation--or protection from paparazzi as Kate and William see it--has been their wholesale move from London to Norfolk, where the no-fly zone and the vast Sandringham estate of the Queen means protection officers can easily identify and remove photographers.
George and Charlotte are now almost never taken out and about in the big wide world by their nanny, extended family or friends.
The days of George going for a walk with his nanny in Kensington Park, as he often did before Charlotte’s arrival, are long gone.
William and Kate want “both children to be free to play in public and semi-public spaces with other children without being photographed”, according to the Kensington Palace letter.
They also, no doubt, want an end to disease, global poverty, and rhino poaching.
Even the royals have to accept in the era of the camera phone, people will take pictures of the future King and his sister when they see them. As much as Will and Kate may not like it, pictures of the young royals will be taken whenever they are in a public or semi-public place.
The policy of appealing to the public to effectively boycott magazines that publish “unauthorized pictures” of the royal infants has been revealed as quite awesomely naïve--appealing to the better nature of the tabloid-reading public, really?
In the absence of a tsunami of cancelled subscriptions at the offices of Women’s Day William and Kate surely would be well advised to reassess their strategy.
Thus far, their plan appears to consist of ensuring that the lives of the youngest royals are entirely conducted on private property--specifically, on private property not visible from any public highway, footpath or another piece of private property.
Now, admittedly, when you are the Royal Family, this definition of “private property” covers quite a substantial chunk of land--but it still condemns the children to an existence behind palace gates and within “walled gardens,” the very thing their parents claim to fear.
At some point, William and Kate will have to ask themselves just how terrible it would be if pictures appeared on Instagram every day of their kids walking along the street to school, playing football in the park and maybe even throwing a tantrum at the playground.
After six weeks, we’d be over it, and a large number of the Cambridges’ problems would quietly vanish.