Paparazzi debate flares over royal bridesmaid pics
As Prince William and Kate Middleton honeymoon in a secluded spot, the paparazzi who stalk them are back in the spotlight.
There’s a brewing legal battle over publication of 5-year-old photographs of bridesmaid Pippa Middleton sunbathing topless, and anger about gruesome photographs of the late Princess Diana in the moments after her 1997 car crash appearing in a documentary about her death.
The publication of the Pippa pictures — showing the 27-year-old on a powerboat with older sister Kate (in a revealing bikini) and William (in a red and white bathing suit) — prompted the Middleton family to file a formal petition to Britain’s independent Press Complaints Commission.
That complaint is seen as the first salvo in what is expected to be a conflict between the monarchy and the press as both sides try to establish boundaries in a new royal era defined by William and Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and their determination to live a normal life.
The prince and his bride jetted off this week to a secret honeymoon spot that royal watchers believe was chosen specifically to keep them out of the lenses of the paparazzi.
“That and security would have been of primary importance,” said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. “We’ve known for a long time William would not stand for any nonsense regarding his new wife and her family.”
Many Britons — mindful of how Princess Diana was tracked by the paparazzi in the moments leading to her fatal car crash — want the new royal couple, and the rest of the Middleton clan, to be able to move about without facing a constant barrage of flashing cameras.
“I think they should be left alone to be honest, after what happened to Lady Diana,” said Marla Quinn, a 43 year-old receptionist from Surrey.
The nation has been astir with news that “death photos” of Diana moments after her high-speed crash in a Paris tunnel will be shown in a new film about her death, “Unlawful Killing,” premiering at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Middleton family’s complaint cites four British tabloids — the News of the World, Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mirror — for publishing photos that violated family privacy, including those of the sisters and William on the luxury boat off the coast off the Mediterranean island of Ibiza.
Other pictures of Pippa Middleton have also received wide exposure on the Internet and in various publications, including one of her dancing suggestively in a lavender bra and a flimsy white skirt with an unidentified man wearing boxer shorts. Sensitive pictures of younger brother James Middleton have also circulated on the Internet.
The independent press commission will determine whether the newspapers have violated the Middletons’ privacy and whether there are any “public right to know” issues that might justify publication of the photos.
While freedom of speech is protected in the United States by the First Amendment, European law protects privacy as well as free expression, often leaving it to judges to balance the two competing concerns.
A key European Court of Human Rights judgment in 2004 bolstered privacy protection by ruling that three German magazines infringed on Princess Caroline of Monaco’s privacy by publishing photos of her and her children at a Monaco beach club.
The recent British newspaper coverage, including front-page photos of Pippa Middleton in a bikini, reflects her status as a surprise star of the royal wedding.
Her appearance in a figure-flattering Alexander McQueen gown at the wedding has sparked a flurry of interest, including the establishment of a Pippa Middleton appreciation page on Facebook.
Experts believe her newfound fame offers a raft of commercial opportunities — but could be undone if more embarrassing photos surface.
Katrina Kutchinsky, managing director of KK Communications, which represents luxury restaurants and bars, said Pippa Middleton is in high demand on the London nightlife scene.
“She’s definitely the hot ticket at the moment, my venues are trying to reach her, but she’s very well protected,” Kutchinsky said. “Everyone is talking about her.”