The Duchess of Cambridge and Her Right to Privacy

In keeping with the recent spate of seeing literally more of the Royal Family than we ever have, Her Royal Highness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (more regularly referred to as ‘Kate Middleton’) has now been caught sunbathing topless by the telescopic lens of a journalist. Not only was this an unwise course of action by the journalist, but for these photos to have actually been published in the national (albeit French) media is outrageous.

We have to put things into perspective here.

Yes there can be no doubt that the Duchess of Cambridge’s right to privacy was breached. Journalists simply cannot peer onto the private balcony of anybody. However, Her Royal Highness should not be treated any differently from a member of the public who has been targeted in a similar fashion. Any person is entitled to, and should expect the same level of privacy as that of a member of the Royal Family. Joe Bloggs, sunbathing in his back garden in nothing more than his birthday suit, should be afforded the same protection as that of Her Royal Highness and the same respect for his privacy. Obviously, the public are more interested in the life of the Duchess of Cambridge rather than the life of Joe Blogs but the principle remains the same: an individual’s human right to privacy is absolute.

It has been mooted in the press that there is a difference between the press printing photos of His Royal Highness Prince Harry, in what has been described as ‘laddish behaviour’ and the private photos of the Duchess of Cambridge on a private holiday. WRONG. There is no difference, they are both breaches of their privacy and both are a substantive breach of their human rights.

My advice to Clarence House would be to take decisive substantive action against Closer’s Italian publisher Mondadori. I understand that their lawyers in France have already put these wheels in motion.

Although the memories of the photos cannot be deleted from the minds of the public, a grovelling apology from the publisher might go some way to putting right the wrongs suffered by the Royal Family, as a result of this matter.

John Spyrou

Head of Internet and Media Law

Pinder Reaux & Associates – Specialists in Internet Law, Media and Privacy Law.