Royalty obliged to behave
First there was womanizer Prince Harry, one of the latest new-age members of the Royal Family known during his formative years to cut loose at pubs (under-age) and parties, and smoke marijuana.
All was documented by press around the world.
Then lately, here’s Harry again making headlines, this time in a first-class Las Vegas hotel room romping around in the nude with an unidentified nude female, apparently playing “nude pool” with other revellers.
Not sure what the rules are with that game, but years ago similar titillating games were called “strip poker” or “spin the bottle,” where one at the losing end was required to remove an item of clothing. Apparently Harry and his naked female friend were at the losing end.
Now there’s the most recent incident rattling the cages of the gossip columnists worldwide about Kate Middleton, presumably the next queen of England, photographed topless.
Buckingham Palace is in an unprecedented flap, taking the unusual step of seeking press bans on the topless photos.
And Prince William and Kate have launched a lawsuit, claiming invasion of privacy — the first action of this kind in Royal history.
The British press, notorious for its yellow journalism — the phone tapping scandal, for example — took an unusual, sanctimonious about-turn and condemned the publication of Kate’s photos, calling it a serious infringement on privacy. Talk about calling the kettle black.
If the truth be known, this smacks of professional jealousy because they missed the scoop.
For example, when naked Harry was exposed in the photos resembling a VIP orgy, the British media cried foul — even Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon behind the phone-tap scandals.
As did his daughter Elizabeth, his News Corporation executive.
Shortly after, Murdoch’s publication, The Sun, became the first British newspaper to publish photos of naked Harry, claiming it was in the public’s interest and a test of Britain’s free press.
So why the sudden about-turn by the Murdochs?
“I think he’s cute, and I thought quite sweet,” said the daughter. “I feel bad for him, I mean, God, take mobile phones away (but) we’ve all seen the pictures online. If newspapers can’t participate in that I think it asks questions about where print and online (meet)”.
The photos meant big sales for Murdoch, and the Royal family is not over and above the average person when it comes to the rules of photography. Aside from breaking the law by trespassing, anything or anybody photographed that could be viewed by the public in general is OK.
Kate was in full public view when the photos were taken by a photographer training his long lens camera on the Royal couple while they sunbathed on a private estate in southern France.
But the French court differs in the rules. It ordered the French magazine Mondadori from re-publishing the photos, ruling the photos were, as they appeared in the magazine, a “brutal display . . . particularly intrusive.”
The photos have since been published in Italy and Northern Ireland.
The Royal couple is also filing a criminal complaint against the yet-to-be-named photographer.
While the Internet commenters have been embroiled in a war of words, the question remains: Do the photos of Harry and Kate represent an invasion of privacy?
While the Royal family demands dignity in its media coverage, that demand comes with a price — accountability. And they have a responsibility to uphold their end of the bargain by behaving in a dignified manner.
The Royal family must realize that, at very least, in exchange for the millions of dollars flooded in their direction, they should behave themselves in public.
Don’t blame the media. Blame a family whose children seem to believe they can bare all in public with immunity.
If you are royalty, your business is everybody’s business, so adjust your habits accordingly.
Rick Zemanek is a retired Advocate editor.