Nervous tabloids and paparazzi agencies indicated that they had no plans to shoot or publish pictures of the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their impending honeymoon.
With Buckingham Palace having made it clear it expects privacy for the couple by refusing to release details of their holiday plans, the honeymoon could be a break from intrusion by the British media – although it is less certain that foreign publications and photographers will be so willing to comply.
Trevor Adams, a veteran photographer who camped overnight to secure shots on royal wedding day and a founder of the Matrix picture agency, said: “We’re not going to go – and while I’m sure that some people will spend a lot of money looking for them, I think British papers would be too cautious to go anywhere near it.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail said it had no plans to create a market for pictures of the holidaying couple. Robin Esser, managing editor, said the rightwing tabloid with one of Fleet Street’s largest picture budgets “won’t be buying anything” if it were offered any honeymoon paparazzo shots. In the past the palace tried to manage the media by allowing set-piece photoshoots on royal holidays, creating familiar images of a ski-brandishing Princess Diana in Switzerland.
But the philosophy now is that “private moments are private moments” and that allowing a stage-managed photoshoot sends a signal that pictures of royal holidays are acceptable.
However, in the knowledge that calls for privacy are not always heeded, the Palace has also been careful in choosing the holiday location with regards to both its seclusion and local laws.
Photographs taken in a hotel room, even in a lobby or restaurant, or anywhere the couple have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” would fall foul of the Press Complaints Commission code of practice – which, when it comes to the royals, is normally closely followed by Fleet Street.
Photographs in public places – most obviously beaches or boats – are a different matter under the PCC rules. But the couple can use a private beach and some countries have strict rules governing picture-taking on or near the shore. Insiders point out that the young couple are “adept at choosing suitable locations” for trips away.
Meanwhile, the PCC stands by in case there is a breach of the couple’s privacy. The PCC intervened in the spring of 2007 at the request of Kate Middleton after she was regularly harassed outside her London home – resulting in the scrum of photographers that gathered there daily to disappear.
The palace will if necessary invoke rules in the PCC code that depend on rights of privacy as established by the European convention on human rights – the same rights used in controversial superinjunctions by celebrities trying to cover up sexual indiscretions. Clause 3.1 of the code states: “Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.”
What is less clear is whether foreign media will feel inclined to respect British rules and the post-Diana sense of tabloid morality.
Martin Dunn, who used to edit the New York Daily News, said he believed US newspapers would follow the lead of their British counterparts, but thought “the glossy weekly celeb magazines might have a different view”.
Titles like US Weekly and People are able to pay six-figure sums for desirable pictures and it was an internet publication – the Drudge Report – that chose to reveal that Prince Harry served in Afghanistan when British newspapers had agreed a reporting ban. At the same time, there is always the culture of try it and see – at a time when the royal family have showed again they generate business for British newspapers.
The Sun estimated that its sales on Saturday after the royal wedding were up 10% to 3.3m, while other newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Guardian reported increases of 20%-25%.
So, while Matrix will not send photographers after the couple, Adams admitted that if offered a picture he would probably “test the water – you’d want to know what the feeling was”.
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