Tag Archives: Niraj Tanna

Potential Dangers of Private Royals

For those not following royal photographers on Twitter, it seems like there was an incident on Saturday about which royal photographer, Niraj Tanna, cryptically Tweeted:

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While no specific royals were mentioned, royal watchers suspected it could be a dangerous escalation of the Cambridge’s ongoing privacy war against the media. The Usual Suspects, it turns out, were on an extended weekend ski getaway with newly released photos by John Stillwell Tweeted by @Kensington Royal providing the anticipated family photos to quiet the grumbling masses.

Photographer Jesal Parshotam offered another clue about what Tanna’s Tweet was eluding to:

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It was pretty messed up when in August, Jason Knauf, Communications Secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, released a public appeal for sympathy which also included the veiled threat, “it will not always be possible to quickly distinguish between someone taking photos and someone intending to do more immediate harm.”  But putting the general public at risk using taxpayer-funded RPOs driving recklessly to avoid being photographed ups the crazy factor.  Allegedly back in December, Kate Middleton’s car is said to have employed the same photographer evasion tactics.  As one royal watcher noted:

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If I were ever to be mowed down by a Royal Protection Officer driving recklessly to keep any member of the royal family from getting photographed, I would haunt the crap out of both the RPO and the royal in question.  And it wouldn’t be one of those polite hauntings either where a couple times a year you think you maybe saw something out of the corner of your eye and sometimes feel a cold draft that has no discernible source, I would throw a phantasmal freak-out.  There would be no Lola, only Zuul.

The Tweet of another royal photographer suggests the incident to which Niraj Tanna eluded transpired at the wedding of William’s ex-girlfriend, Olivia Hunt, which took place this weekend.

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Interestingly, as Sebastian Shakespeare noted in his most recent Daily Mail piece, the only member of the British Royal Family to attend the wedding was Prince Harry.  Neither Prince William or Kate Middleton went, opting instead for a private family ski getaway.  While Prince Harry is not known to possess the same level of animosity towards the press as his older brother, he once got into an altercation with Niraj Tanna outside of Boujis, as detailed in a 2010 article by Camilla Tominay so it’s possible their history has something to do with Tanna’s Tweet.  Prince Harry has grown a lot in the past few years, though, and has found a way to juggle the pressures of his role, gladly posing for photos with royal fans, even tipping off the press as to his whereabouts while accommodating photographic requests.  Harry’s conducted himself with far more grace than his brother, the future king, which makes me even more curious about the missing pieces of this story which still remain untold.

This line from Sebastian Shakespeare’s Daily Mail article does not sit well at all with me, “Security was in place for royal guests. Tourists and photographers were turned away from entering, apparently at the request of the police.”

Exactly how much taxpayer money went towards security for this private wedding at Temple Church because of its royal guest list?  Security costs for the British Royal Family are never reported with the excuse that revealing the figure would somehow jeopardize their safety.  Were RPOs used to keep photographers from documenting this taxpayer expense, endangering the very taxpayers who fund them in the process?

Hopefully Niraj Tanna will follow up with details.  Considering this is the second accusation in three months of RPOs driving aggressively to avoid having pictures taken, hopefully some better way of handling the presence of photographers will be explored that won’t endanger the masses.

I really wish Crown Princess Victoria taught seminars on how to juggle a royal role and family life, both she and her husband, Prince Daniel, manage it far better than any other royals.  In my opinion, the reason they are able to have the privacy they want is because they are dedicated to duty and accommodate interest in their family, providing enough of a public presence that they are allowed to keep the rest for themselves.   After the birth last week of Prince Oscar Carl Olaf, Prince Daniel addressed reporters warmly and requested the same kind of space with their newborn son they were granted by the press when Princess Estelle was born for which they were so thankful.  No expectation of privacy letters handed out, no threats, just an acknowledgement of how wonderfully understanding the press had been after Estelle’s birth and an appreciative request that Oscar’s birth could be handled in the same manner.

These latest photos released of the Cambridges on Twitter are lovely, but ultimately, they are glossy photos of a family to which the public feels little connection enjoying some wintry frivolity.  I also question the reasoning behind taking photos of a couple criticized for their lack of worth ethic while on a get-away from the duties they rarely undertake.  While the photos are likely intended to represent a promising future for the monarchy, they also represent an increased burden on taxpayers.  RPOs are flown Business or First Class on the taxpayer’s dime, their accommodations, overtime and per diem are also covered by the taxpayer.  That’s a pretty pricy photo op during a time of austerity.

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Prince George Starts Nursery School

Kate Middleton might be getting the good lovin’ tonight from hubby Prince William, so if their ten bedroom country estate is a-rockin’, don’t go a-knockin’.  The couple managed to pull off Prince George’s first day of nursery school without the presence of the loathsome media, released two photos taken by Kate on Twitter after-the-fact, thereby sharing the future king’s milestone moment in the couple’s trademark on-their-terms-only fashion, and pissing off a multitude of royal  photographers in the process.

So how did the Cambridges pull off this latest coupe of public figures living privately?  It was actually kind of brilliant.  It didn’t require the kind of carefully calculated choreography of Ocean’s Eleven, they simply used the Power of Assumption.

The Bait:

On December 18th, Kensington Palace released an official announcement that Prince George would be starting Westacre Montessori School Nursery  in Norfolk before the end of January.

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Media outlets dutifully reported the news that George would be starting nursery school at the end of the January, like eonline which gushed, “But after the holidays, Prince George is going to have to start planning his first day of school outfit, as the palace also announced Friday that he’ll be starting nursery school at the end of January!”

Technically, January 6th does fall before the end of January.  So the announcement was not even blatantly deceptive by the Cambridges’ standards.

As Richard Palmer noted in his December 18th Express article on the choice of a nursery school ten miles from Anmer Hall:

“The Cambridges have spent an increasing amount of time at Anmer Hall, their 10-bedroom country home on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, despite taxpayers forking out £4.5 million to upgrade their official London residence at Kensington Palace.

Aides had said they would spend most of their time at the London residence but they soon got fed up with the public and media attention in London and it quickly became clear they intended to base themselves in Norfolk.”

It’s just so irksome when the public shows interest in public figures.  Hang your heads in shame, peasants, you basically forced them into doing what suited them like they would have anyway.

The Heist:

With the public and royal photographers assuming Prince George’s first day of nursery school would fall at the end of the January, Prince William and Kate Middleton pulled up to Westacre Montessori Nursery with two-and-half-year-old George and Kate took some pics.  After George’s first day, when the family was back at their Fortress of Solitude, Anmer Hall, Kensington Palace released two of Kate’s photos of George’s first day.  From the @KensingtonRoyal Twitter Account:

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Prince George is undeniably adorable.  But two pics of His Royal Cuteness taken by his mother feels a bit paltry, especially compared to the media presence at Prince William’s first day at nursery school, as evidenced in this photo published by Hello Magazine.

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The Daily Mail couldn’t resist pointing out that on Prince William’s first day of nursery school, “In line with tradition, a formal photocall was arranged by Kensington Palace for the three-year-old’s arrival at Mrs Mynors’ Nursery School in London, which was also a Montessori.”

Royal photographers, whose livings are adversely effected by the Cambridge’s dodging of traditional photocalls and legal threats against unofficial photos, vented their frustrations on social media.  Royal photographer, Mark Stewart, lamented the covert move by the Cambridges on Twitter with royal photographer, James Whatling, emphasizing that the changes were for the worse.

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James Whatling also got in a dig at how ridiculous it is that public figures are demanding to live privately, doling out amateur photographic pellets as if they will satiate the public that supports the monarchy.

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Perhaps the most interesting Tweet of all was from Niraj Tanna, who has an impressive track record of being in the know about the generally unknown:

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Did an American journalist get the scoop before anyone else that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be releasing photos of Prince George’s first day of nursery school on the American-owned platform Twitter?  If so, that’s gotta sting even more.

It kind of makes me  nostalgic for the days when instead of all these passive-aggressive shenanigans, the future Queen Consort  just out-right flashed the press the V sign (the  British  version of giving the finger).KateFlashesVSign

Prince George won’t be attending nursery school regularly, permitting him breaks from the drudgery of cutting and pasting.  According to a senior aide quoted in the Daily Mail“He won’t go every day… but the couple decided that it would just be nice for him to attend a little local nursery school.”

So basically like his parents, Prince George’s schedule will remain flexible so he can properly go on holiday and be reportedly keen on things.  George is one precocious kid, he’s not even three yet and he’s got the whole Cambridge prince thing down.

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Whinging Windsor

There’s a Royal Temper Tantrum in the news and of course, it’s not being thrown by the fourteen month-old prince, but rather the thirty-two year-old Prince William because a freelance photographer tried to take pictures of Prince George while out with his nanny at Battersea Park.

Kensington Palace released a statement that “The Duke and Duchess have taken legal steps to ask that an individual ceases harassing and following both Prince George and his Nanny as they go about their ordinary daily lives.  An incident last week has prompted Their Royal Highnesses to seek reasonable assurances from the individual about his behaviour.  The individual was spotted at a central London Park in the vicinity of Prince George, who was removed from the Park immediately.  There is reason to suspect that the individual may have been placing Prince George under surveillance and monitoring his daily routines for a period of time.”

The language of the statement suggests that Prince William’s legal team could be using the UK’s Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which was primarily passed to protect stalking victims as a means of stopping the photographer (and undoubtedly others if the tactic works) from snapping pictures of Prince George.  There are no laws that prevent photos of the Royal Family from being taken during their downtime, rather there is a gentleman’s agreement in place with the press.  Newspapers and magazines in the UK agree not to publish photos taken of the Royal Family on their downtime and in exchange, the Buckingham Palace Press Office leaks information so the outlets can still sell magazines and newspapers.  Now that there’s an international market for these photos, the Royal Family must come up with a new way of controlling the media.  By likening the taking of these photos to harassment, they might be using the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which has been criticized for its vague wording to obtain a level of privacy that would not be otherwise afforded to them.  Under the act, harassment is defined as “behaviour which causes alarm or distress”.

One of the potential two photographers being singled out is Niraj Tanna who, according to his lawyer, “categorically denies and strongly objects to groundless allegations”.  This isn’t the first time the Royal Family has threatened Tanna with legal action.  He was accused of violating Kate Middleton’s privacy by taking a picture of her playing tennis from a public footpath when she was still a “private individual”.  Tanna insists that as a press photographer, he was within his rights photographing Prince George in a public park and any legal action will be “vigorously contested”.

Personally, I really don’t get why people really want photos of Prince George, he’s fourteen months-old, it’s not like he’s got a treasure map to the God Particle on his nappies, but he’s a future king and most people can’t get enough of tiny humans.  He was also born a public figure whose appearances in public have been limited by reclusive parents.

Prince William has always resented the press, from the time he was a child.  Unfortunately, with Prince William’s and Kate’s popularity waning, this reaction from the Petulant Prince is a bad PR move even if calculated to retroactively explain why the Cambridges will be retreating to Anmer Hall for the sake of privacy once the renovations there are complete.  Of course daily photos of Prince George out with his nanny would also have adverse effects on their public image given that parenting responsibilities are used as an excuse as to why Kate can’t do more official engagements.

Once again, Prince William seems to want things “his way” and will huff and puff through his legal team to live a private life as a public figure, all of the privilege and none of the inconveniences.  Ultimately, those cameras are going to be there for all of Prince George’s life, whether or not they should be.  Even if photographers can be dissuaded with claims of harassment, there aren’t enough lawyers in the world to go after each and every individual with a camera phone.  Instead of teaching his son legal intimidation tactics that serve to further alienate the public, maybe Prince William should be focused on helping his son and himself to come to terms with the realities of being a public figure.

The issue of privacy for a baby future king is an interesting topic, I’d love to hear your comments!

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Secret Ski Vacation Rumor

A few weeks ago, I got a tip that Kate Middleton and Prince William were planning a secret ski get-away following the Australia Tour.  I dismissed it as some propaganda whispering, when I get gossip which seems unlikely even for this royal bunch, I usually assume there’s some amount of fabrication to it.  After all, would the Lazy Duo actually try to squeeze in yet another vacation given all the bad press they’ve received this year for their luxury get-aways?  That would require a sense of entitlement and impertinence at a level akin to pathological narcissism.

As public figures, Kate Middleton and Prince William are often the target of rumors, some of them true, some maliciously fabricated and others that remain more difficult to confirm or refute like the one that’s been circulating for a few years now about Kate’s alleged secret 2006 abortion when she and Prince William were dating which was rumored to be one of the contributing factors to their 2007 break-up. Unfortunately the more deceitful PR tactics are employed, the more voraciously the press will become to expose any concealed truths.

Because the UK press does not enjoy the same Freedom of Speech that the US press does, sometimes unflattering photos or tidbits of info are leaked across the pond by frustrated or disenchanted members of the media.  And sometimes people with grudges just make crap up because they’re bitter and bored.  It seems a little silly that people actually bother to fabricate gossip about the British Royal Family, that group has so much riveting dysfunction, if they ever did a reality show called The Real Housewives of Windsor, we would all be watching it.  But it happens.  And sometimes a dismissed rumor seems more credible than once believed.

Tonight, I noticed a comment on Kate Middleton: Duchess or Diva that I found fascinating.  My2Pence noted:

Prince William spotted in the private SwissAir lounge at Chicago/O’Hare on the way to Memphis. Presumably, he would only be allowed in that lounge if he had flown SwissAir into Chicago. Proof they snuck off on their skiing holiday? From what I can tell (and I could be searching their site incorrectly), SwissAir doesn’t fly from London to Chicago, but they DO fly from Zurich to Chicago.

And in a follow-up, My2Pence stated:

What surprises me is that the majority of royal reporters (and boards) seem to be ignoring it. Tanna hinted that they’d gone on holiday straight out of Australia but no one engaged with him about it. No photos of them arriving back in the UK after NZ/AU which is also odd. William flying SwissAir would seem to be proof that they went skiing straight out of Australia (with or without George) but everyone is pretending this didn’t happen?

Despite having heard the exact same rumor weeks ago about the couple going on a secret Middleton ski vacation after the New Zealand/Australia Tour and finding the report that Prince William was hanging out in the SwissAir Lounge at O’Hare on the way to the Memphis wedding odd, it still didn’t occur to me that Prince William and the Duchess of Doolittle could actually have the impudence to squeeze in yet another vacation until My2Pence made the connection.  That should pretty much settle any lingering doubts any of you might have as to whether or not I’m a natural blonde.

I imagine to the Cambridges, it’s such a bummer when protesting peasants wreck your annual ski vacation plans but did they actually try to sneak one in under the radar below the stink-eye line?  My initial reaction was no way would they attempt such an ill-advised trip, but maybe the genius of the plan was its unfathomable audacity.  Grumblings about the cost of security footed by taxpayers are being acknowledged in media articles estimating UK citizens are paying approximately $84,000 in security costs for this Memphis vacation for Princes William and Harry.  I estimated that the Maldives get-away cost taxpayers around $114,000.  Plus there’s Kate’s vacation to Mustique earlier this year and Prince William’s hunting trip to Spain.  With such intense scrutiny over the cost of the Royal Family to taxpayers, perhaps William and Kate tried to avoid even more security costs from reaching the public’s awareness and yet another vacation souring any positive press they earned during the New Zealand/Australia tour.

I did some follow-up research on Prince William’s selection of the SwissAir lounge and O’Hare seems to be the connecting city of choice for most international flights originating in Europe, so the connecting airport offers no clue as to the city of origin for Prince William’s flight, but there remain other details which make this rumor seem plausible.

  • There weren’t any released photos of the Heathrow arrival of the Royal Trio following the New Zealand/Australia Tour.  At least I didn’t see any and trust me, I looked.  Now that Buckingham Palace is counting travel time as official engagements in order to pad Lazy Katie’s numbers due to the PR backlash against UK’s Laziest Royal, arrivals and landings should be a matter of public record.  Travel arrangements can’t fall under the protection of privacy if they are being counted as official workdays.
  • No photos of Kate Middleton have been published since the Australia tour on April 25th, nothing in the press to suggest where she’s been since she boarded the flight to Sydney.  We’ve all been assuming she’s been locked away inside Kensington Palace but there’s no evidence to support that.
  • Prince William wasn’t seen since he boarded the flight to Sydney on April 25th until he was sitting in the SwissAir Lounge with his friends at O’Hare Airport en route to Memphis on Thursday May 1st enjoying some nachos and hot wings.
  • Why the SwissAir lounge and not say the British Airways lounge also located in Terminal 5 of O’Hare Airport?  Granted, when you’re a Prince, you can have your choice of lounges but it’s very possible his staff arranged the logistics of the layover directly with the airline.  Perhaps the Prince was flying SwissAir because he really was on the rumored secret Swiss ski vacation with Kate?
  • There’s already a pic of Prince William taken while onboard a flight to the Dallas Fort Worth Airport on Niraj Tanna’s Twitter page.  And yet no one snapped a single a pic or even commented on his presence until O’Hare?  Connecting at a different airport on the flight out, so is it possible now he’s actually returning to the UK?
  • Neither the Duke or Duchess of Cambridge showed up to the funeral of Mark Shand, brother to Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, on May 1st, despite a statement released by their reps that they were devastated by his death.  The Duke of Cambridge flew to Memphis on May 1st and there was no explanation offered as to why the Duchess of Cambridge could not attend.  Is it possible they weren’t even in the country at the time which is why it wasn’t feasible for the Duke to catch a later flight and still arrive in Memphis two days ahead of the wedding?

It is possible this secret ski vacation is just idle gossip that’s been idling for the last few weeks but it will be interesting to see if anything else emerges.  Could the Lazy Duo successfully pull off the same kind of secret ski getaway that Prince Harry got caught attempting when he and Cressida tried to sneak off to Kazakhstan in March?  Absolutely, Prince Harry only got busted a couple of days into his secret vacation because of a fellow skier with a camera phone, it’s possible the Duke and Duchess were more cautious, perhaps choosing a location where they would be guaranteed privacy, with trusted staff members being required to sign a Confidentiality/Non-Disclosure Agreement.

What do you guys think?

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