Royals and the Australian media – privacy issues to the fore

April 22, 2014 |

 The World Today has reported on the coverage by most media outlets in photographing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoying private time on private property, the Government House at Yarralumla, yesterday.  Quite disappointing given the World Today reports in Privacy debate swirls after Royal pics published that media outlets were specifically asked to respect the Royals privacy.  That request was clearly ignored.

The story provides:

ASHLEY HALL: A move by sections of the Australian media to broadcast private footage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George has sparked another privacy debate.

The Royals are spending the afternoon in the Red Centre today. Yesterday was an official rest day, which they spent in the grounds of Government House at Yarralumla in Canberra.

But despite the appeals for privacy, images of the Duchess playing with her son and walking hand in hand with Prince William were broadcast on television news services last night and printed in Australian newspapers this morning.

The media outlets ignored a request from Kensington Palace not to use the images, as Stephanie Smail reports.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Photographs and footage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their bouncing baby boy have flooded the Australian media since they arrived last week.

Their official outings have been documented carefully, from Kate’s outfits to George’s reaction to meeting a bilby.

But the images taken in the grounds of Government House during their day off showed a more intimate insight into their family life.

Juliet Rieden is the deputy editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly and the magazine’s royal correspondent.

She says the images are rare but her magazine won’t be publishing them.

JULIET RIEDEN: I think it’s a bit of a shame. We were asked respectfully if we would not print them. The British media have abided by that. There is a privacy law now in Britain that says that they can’t print them because they were taken on private property.

We don’t have that law here in Australia, but it was a respectful request from the Palace, and Australian media have decided to flout it. I think that’s a bit of a shame. I’m not sure that the readers and viewers would agree with that stance.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Kensington Palace sent a request to Australian media outlets on Monday, saying the couple is entitled to a degree of privacy during their downtime.

The email specifically asked that any images from the grounds of Government House not be broadcast or printed again.

Juliet Rieden says no laws have been broken but it’s not a good look for the Australian media.

JULIET RIEDEN: It’s not as bad as previous images that were taken of the Duchess where she was topless or where she was on a beach in her bikini, but they have just asked us to respect their privacy. They’re not going to go crazy if we don’t, but it’s just a matter of respect and courtesy I think.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Arthur Edwards has been the royal photographer for the UK Sun newspaper since 1977 and is considered a favourite of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

He also had a special rapport with Prince William’s mother, the late Princess Diana. He’s critical of the decision to broadcast their private moments.

ARTHUR EDWARDS: The fact that she is playing with her son in the grounds of Government House is a private matter. And I think William, when he expects privacy, he wants privacy and we respect that now. We wouldn’t go there and do that. I certainly wouldn’t go and do that.

Times have changed. William and Catherine have worked really hard for us on this tour, we’ve got some really nice pictures. A little bit of private time with her son, I think they are entitled to that.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: The UK edition of The Guardian newspaper says the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have sidestepped the privacy row and are “very relaxed” about the photos, despite requests for them not to be used.

Juliet Rieden says that might be the case, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

The Duke and Duchess are on a PR tour of Australia. Doesn’t that make them fair game for these sort of photographs to be taken and footage to be taken?

JULIET RIEDEN: Look, I don’t think so, because they have presented us with day after day after day of photo opportunities. They even brought their almost nine-month-old son out for us to photograph, which could have been fairly traumatic for him. As it happens, Prince George seems to be very happy having his photograph taken, but not every baby is, and I think they’re entitled to some private time when they’re not being spied on.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: She says some Australian Women’s Weekly readers support her view.

JULIET RIEDON: The response from the readers will be what is interesting. I mean, I wrote a piece on our website this morning just about the privacy issue, and our readers immediately, within minutes, got back to me and said, look, we agree, these images shouldn’t be printed. They’re allowed private time.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are set to visit Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park today, 31 years after the last newlywed royals visited the famous landmark.

Prince William’s parents Charles and Diana climbed Uluru in 1983 during their tour of Central Australia. Times have changed, and this royal couple are expected to stay firmly on the ground, providing plenty of images for the lens.

The Guardian has run a story on the privacy intrusive behaviour in William and Kate ‘very relaxed’ about unauthorised pictures and

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have sidestepped a potential row over the use of unauthorised pictures of them and Prince George taken during a break from engagements on their tour of Australia.

The couple were said to be “very relaxed” about photos apparently taken without permission by paparazzi, while telling broadcasters and other media they would prefer them not to be used.

Pictures of the duchess playing with her eight-month-old son on her lap, carrying him on her shoulders and pushing him in a buggy in the gardens of Government House in Canberra during time off have been widely used in Australia. Other photos showed the royal couple, wearing jeans and jumpers, walking hand in hand near Lake Burley Griffin.

Royal aides asked British media not to publish the photographs but seem anxious to avoid controversy during what has been seen as a successful visit to New Zealand and Australia. In 2012 the duchess was photographed topless without her knowledge during a holiday in France, provoking an injunction to stop the pictures – which originally appeared in Closer magazine – being republished.

On Tuesday, the couple will leave George with a nanny in Canberra for Uluru, in central Australia, more than 30 years after Prince William‘s parents went there. It will be their second night away this trip from their son. He was the focus of attention at Sydney’s Taronga zoo over the weekend, meeting a bilby – a rabbit-like marsupial – named after him.

Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, is a sacred site for the area’s Indigenous Australians. The royal couple will fly to Yulara, a town close to Uluru, to visit the National Indigenous Training Academy, which helps to train those living near the world heritage site to work in the tourism and hospitality trades.

The Australian Womens’ Weekly, hardly the bastion of rights based commentary, has taken a strong view against the coverage in  Royals Ask for Privacy where it stated:

When photographs and filmed footage emerged yesterday of the Cambridge family relaxing together in the grounds of Yarralumla in Canberra, the Governor-General’s home where Prince George is staying for the remainder of the tour, the Duke and Duchess’s press team were on a plane with the media – including The Weekly – flying to Uluru in preparation for today’s visit.

Very quickly we were made aware that the images were unauthorised and respectfully asked not to use them. The photos, clearly taken with a long lens by paparazzi lurking in the Yarralumla parklands, breached the couples’ privacy on a day when they were relaxing together as a family, a rare chance for Kate, William and baby George to enjoy some quality time on what has been quite a hectic schedule of public events.

It was also a day when William and Kate could play with Prince George before leaving him for their only night away from the Canberra base to visit the Red Centre.

This morning it’s clear that the British media has upheld that request but some Australian outlets did not. It’s not the first time the couple’s privacy has been breached, although these shots were a lot less intrusive than the topless photos of the Duchess taken when the couple were holidaying in a private home in France. Then the couple took legal action against the photographer, setting a new precedent for the royals and showing the extent to which Prince William is prepared to go to protect his family.

Publication of these pictures, which are much less controversial and simply show a family enjoying our great outdoors, is unlikely to receive the same treatment but it does expose the pressures this young family face every day from their life in the glare of the media spotlight.

Given the Australian Law Reform Commission has put out a discussion paper where it recommends a statutory right of privacy there is plenty of chutzpah in the media outlets deciding to brush aside privacy requests at this time.  There is also the cool headed calculation that given the popularity of the Royals controversay on the privacy front is of minor concern in the quest for ratings.

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