Tag Archives: Protection from Harassment Act 1997

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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