Two UK publications invaded the privacy of Kate Middleton and Prince George when they published long-lens photos of them at their house.
Kate Middleton complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the UK press regulator, over the May coverage by UK Express‘s and OK! magazine of her son Prince George on a UK police motorbike. Prince George also is listed as a complainant. iMediaEthics wrote to both publications for comment.
The Express‘s story “Mummy, I’m a big boy now! Kate beams as cute George enjoys thrilling ride on police bike,” showed pictures of Prince George sitting on the bike with Kate Middleton smiling. OK!‘s story “The Duchess of Cambridge proudly watches son Prince George as he rides a police motorbike,” reported the same. The photos show the royal family through big black gates or rails.
Middleton complained that the photographs constituted an invasion of privacy because the family was “on private, protected land where commercial photography is prohibited; and no permission for the images to be taken or published had been sought or obtained,” IPSO reported. The complaint notes that the police had seen the photographer who had a long-lens camera, and spoke to him, warning him against taking photos of the royal family, but the photographer “claimed to be retired, and did not say that he intended to use, sell or provide photographs for publication.”
The Express and OK! originally claimed that its photographer coincidentally came across the royal family and took the photos with a regular, not a long-lens camera. The newspaper argued the photos were fair game because the family was “clearly visible to the public,” IPSO reported. However, the Express and OK! changed its story, later telling IPSO that the photographer used a long-lens camera to take photos of the family after seeing a crowd looking their way.
Regardless, the two publications said it was not an invasion of privacy. “The newspaper considered that it was important for the public to see how young members of the Royal Family interacted with public servants, particularly when the officers had been ‘commandeered for a three-year-old’s entertainment,'” IPSO reported. “It said that as an heir to the throne, Prince George was not in the position of an ‘ordinary child’; he was a subject of great public interest.”
IPSO agreed that the royal family are public figures. But, given that they were not in a public venue but rather on their private home, acting in private without knowing they were being photographed, the young age of Prince George, and the photos were captured with a long-lens camera, IPSO ruled the Express invaded their privacy.
Kate Middleton and Prince George “had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time they were photographed,” IPSO decided. “The newspaper had not obtained their consent, and, as such, it was required to demonstrate that the photography was justified in the public interest.” However, the photos didn’t serve any public interest, as they only showed a private moment between Prince George, his mother and the police.
The Express and OK! both have to publish the ruling on their websites and make changes to the original online articles. The Express has deleted its article, as the link now goes to an error page.