ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: On Friday, Kensington Palace went public with complaints by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge about the “increasingly extreme lengths” that paparazzi will go to in order to capture covert images of Prince George.
In an unusually frank letter published on the Prince of Wales’ Web site, Jason Knauf, Kensington Palace’s communications secretary, detailed numerous incidences of photographers monitoring the Cambridges during their private time with their two-year-old son.
Knauf said photographers are using long-range lenses to capture images of the duchess playing with her firstborn in private parks and using children in playgrounds to help draw Prince George into view.
In one instance they hid in sand dunes on a rural beach to capture images of Prince George playing with his grandmother, and they have also been monitoring the movements of the prince and his nanny around London.
These images rarely appear in the British press, and are often sold to publications outside the U.K.
“It is clear that while paparazzi are always keen to capture images of any senior member of the Royal Family, Prince George is currently their number-one target,” Knauf’s letter read.
“We have made the decision to discuss these issues now as the incidents are becoming more frequent and the tactics more alarming. A line has been crossed and any further escalation in tactics would represent a very real security risk,” he wrote. Knauf noted that last week, police discovered a photographer camped out in a car with darkened windows beside a children’s play area, attempting to take images of Prince George. “The worry is that it will not always be possible to quickly distinguish between someone taking photos and someone intending to do more immediate harm,” Knauf wrote.
In the past, Kensington Palace has written directly to media organizations asking for privacy for the royals outside of official engagements. Knauf said the palace had decided to make the latest letter public so that readers can “understand the tactics deployed” to obtain the images.
“We are aware that many people who read and enjoy the publications that fuel the market for unauthorized photos of children do not know about the unacceptable circumstances behind what are often lovely images,” he wrote.
“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.”
He added that while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoy sharing images of their children “they know that every parent would object to anyone — particularly strangers — taking photos of their children without their permission.”
He noted that the Cambridges “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, and without being photographed.”
The letter took pains to thank British media organizations for not publishing unauthorized images of the children, along with “almost all” publications in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.
It also noted that news photographers will, going forward, regularly have opportunities to take images of the family as the children get older.
Knauf said the palace hopes a public discussion of the issues “will help all publishers of unauthorized photos of children to understand the power they hold to starve this disturbing [and lucrative] activity.”