There has been a lot of who-hah in the national and international press, over the last week or two concerning the conduct of our young of royalty, specifically Prince Harry, the younger brother of our future King and the relatively newly Duchess of Cambridge, who, as things stand at present, will become our future Queen. The two incidents complained off comprise Prince Harry larking around the swimming pool without his trunks and the Duchess of Cambridge being photographed’ naked’. This last complaint has now, apparently, turned into a court case, the grounds of which are invasion of privacy.
If the case comes down purely to a matter of nakedness I personally see no cause for criticism, as a long time naturist who has enjoyed the sensation of sunshine over my naked body, for the past 60 years, or so . Those regular readers amongst you will no doubt recall several instances, of my dedication to this very un-British behaviour. The myriad of times when working at home behind a high windscreen, in the garden, from which I would make and take necessary telephone calls, leaving the recipient slightly perplexed at the strength of the birdsong in the background. Then, beyond the domestic scene, the numerous occasions, where I have enjoyed this pleasure, overseas, in public bathing parts of the beach especially dedicated to naturism.
In Prince Harry’s case it seems that this was no more nor less than some young men ‘ larking about’ in which our poor Prince fell victim to an overzealous paparazzi being rewarded with a long photo shots of the naked Prince.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s case was viewed quite differently and described by the editor of The Times that’ the Duchess has suffered a gross invasion of privacy. Self regulation, of the press can work but it requires ethical choices’. The Duchess of Cambridge was unfortunate enough to have had photographs of her sitting on a private balcony on holiday in Provence , which were subsequently reproduced in a local newspaper which has prompted the Duke and Duchess to sue the editor and owners on this newspaper, making it only the second time that the Royal family have indulged in litigation, in the last hundred years.
The photographs of our trainee Duchess are now instantly available to anyone with access to the Internet, which the Times editor suggests that this is‘ yet another demonstration of a profound new truth about modern journalism-that the sheer ubiquity of outlets online makes it all but impossible to prevent people from receiving what they are determined to see. Even in France, a country within draconian privacy law regulation has proved impossible to enforce’.
The editor then went on to suggest that self regulation of the press is, at bottom, a question of individual ethics and that a publication of these photographs is an invasion of privacy and the self-consensus of any reputable publication should lead to the decision not to proceed. This self-regulation is not as crazy as it sounds and this is the reason why no British newspaper has leapt to reproduce these pictures, the ethical choices I mentioned earlier only come into play here as the underpinning of self regulation. If self-regulation fails then the prospect of statutory regulation would seem to be inevitable.
The editor of The Times however suggests that it would be naive to some, that they will suffice in all cases to prevent widespread dissemination of images that cross the border between reasonably public and what is properly private.
The Editor suggests that this is the reason why it is wholly justified for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to take legal action. French privacy law prohibits the publication of pictures taken without the consent of the subject. The defence to the publication of these pictures,being that there were’ very nice … and the Duchess of Cambridge is very pretty‘ that there is no principled defence in this case. Every publication has to make a daily justification for the principle of free expression. In this case Closer-the magazine which published the photograph failed to discharge that responsibility. The Duke of Cambridge has already had to suffer the problems caused by the paparazzi which lead to the death of his mother. The Duchess has made a faultless start to her thankless task in the public eye. I agree with the editor of The Times that the Duke and Duchess deserve to have the paparazzi respect their privacy. In any event, I wonder at the fuss that these pictures have raised in the media because the subject concerned in each case was naked, to some degree or other, a state of dress, or rather undress, to be found on beaches designated for the purpose, on most civilised countries in the world.