In a letter issued by Kensington Palace, the royal couple have expressed concern for the “increasingly extreme lengths” paparazzi photographers go to for photos of Prince George, urging international media outlets to not publish any unauthorised photos of the future king.
The palace has put in new measures “to protect Prince George and Princess Charlotte from harassment and surveillance” following a recent “disturbing, but not at all uncommon” incident, whereby a photographer went to inappropriate lengths to get a photograph of the young prince.
“A photographer rented a car and parked in a discreet location outside a children’s play area.
“Already concealed by darkened windows, he took the added step of hanging sheets inside the vehicle and created a hide stocked with food and drinks to get him through a full day of surveillance, waiting in hope to capture images of Prince George.
“Police discovered him lying down in the boot of the vehicle attempting to shoot photos with a long lens through a small gap in his hide.”
This, of course, wasn’t an isolated incident. The palace claims that in recent months, photographers have on multiple occasions monitored the prince’s movements, pursued cars leaving the family’s homes, hid on private property, photographed children of private individuals visiting the family’s home and used other children to lure the prince into view.
Author, UNICEF ambassador and journalist Tara Moss told El Telegraph Weekend that there are “very few exceptions [for] photographing minors without their knowledge or permission, or the permission of their parents.” It is “bad practice”, as is publishing them.
“It should not matter who the children or parents are.
“If there is interest in a public figure, fine, but family members should not be considered fair game,” she said.
As a parent and public figure, Moss’ decision to conceal her daughter’s identity in photographs was a no-brainer.
“Personally, I don’t want my child to be instantly recognisable to strangers and for years I have not published clear images showing her face.
“I want to give her what privacy I feel I reasonably can, while still sharing my experiences as a parent and child rights advocate.
“I want her to be able to make those sorts of decisions for herself when she is old enough.”
Moss mentions the success of the recent ‘No Kids’ campaign in the United States, led by Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, as “many publications are also now refusing to buy or publish identifiable images of kids in instances where it is clear that the child or parents did not consent to the images being taken.”
“If you take away the market for unauthorised images of children … we all benefit,” she said.
“Picture what it would be like walking down the street with your child, whether it’s trick or treating or just to school, and have 10 aggressive men taking their picture with a lens in your face, yelling, pushing other children outside of a school,” Bell told Entertainment Tonight‘s Nancy O’Dell last February.
Educational and developmental psychologist Gissia Castlenoble believes invasive measures to attain a child’s photograph can have detrimental effects on their wellbeing.
“In order for children to develop into healthy and functioning adults, they need to feel safe in their environment and have a sense of normality in terms of their place in the world,” Castlenoble told El Telegraph Weekend.
“Having people stalking you and watching you, especially at such a tender age, can shake these foundations and trigger high levels of anxiety, a poor sense of safety – even trauma and emotional distress.”
Castlenoble said photographs including young celebrities must be regulated and that the paparazzi should only take such photographs with the consent of the parents, as for using tactics such as stalking, surveillance or even yelling to get the child’s attention “can induce fear and stress in children”. Creating boundaries can “help them cope with the demands of public scrutiny”.
The palace has applauded the British media “for their policy of not publishing unauthorised photos of their children”, and reputable publications in the Commonwealth and United States for adopting “a similar position”.
You can’t blame William and Kate for wanting to protect their children and give them the best childhood they can – especially following Princess Diana’s own experiences with the paparazzi, often dubbed “the most photographed woman in the world”, which proved to be fatal – she was being pursued by photographers when she died in 1997.