Palace: Prince George is currently the "number one target" for paparazzi trailing the royals
Letter is sent to media bodies urging them not to publish unauthorized images of the prince
Incidents involving paparazzi "are becoming more frequent and the tactics more alarming," it says
Just how far will the paparazzi go to snap pictures of Britain’s future king, now 2 years old? Here’s what Kensington Palace says:
• Rent a car, stock it with food and drink and hang sheets from the windows – all while hoping to snap a photograph of Prince George in a playground through a peephole in the chassis.
• Use other children to try to lure him into view around playgrounds.
• Hide in the sand dunes at a remote beach to try to snap him playing with his grandmother.
• Use long lens photography to photograph him playing in private parks with his mother, Catherine.
• Take pictures of other children who come to visit Prince George – and pursue cars leaving family homes.
• Skulk in privately owned woods and fields around his parents’ country home and locations near the Middleton family home.
That’s all according to a letter sent out by the palace to media groups on Friday, highlighting “an increasing number of incidents of paparazzi harassment of Prince George” in recent months, and the “increasingly dangerous” tactics being used.
It’s not the first time the palace has pleaded, on behalf of George’s parents, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for their children to be allowed as normal – and safe – a childhood as possible.
But clearly, past warnings have not been heeded by the paparazzi. And some media outlets are still willing to buy their wares.
Worse, while paparazzi are always keen to snap the royals, Prince George “is currently their number one target,” wrote Jason Knauf, communications secretary to the royal couple and Prince Harry.
“We have made the decision to discuss these issues now as the incidents are becoming more frequent and the tactics more alarming.”
The letter is being sent to leaders of media industry bodies in Britain and around the world, said Knauf.
“It is hoped that those who pay paparazzi photographers for their images of children will be able to better understand the distressing activity around a two-year old boy that their money is fuelling.”
The palace also wants the readers who like to coo over “cute” – but unauthorized – images of the royal children in the publications that run them “understand the tactics deployed to obtain these pictures,” he said.
The royals have released a series of authorized pictures of Prince George and his baby sister, Princess Charlotte, for media to use, most recently in July for the prince’s second birthday, and will continue to do so regularly, he pointed out.
Paparazzi going to ‘extreme lengths’
All publications in Britain, as well as most in the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, have respected a policy of not publishing unauthorized images, said Knauf.
But, he said, “paparazzi photographers are going to increasingly extreme lengths to observe and monitor Prince George’s movements and covertly capture images of him to sell to the handful of international media titles still willing to pay for them.”
The issue of paparazzi intrusion is an especially sore point given Prince William’s family history.
His beloved mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and boyfriend Dodi Fayed, died when the Mercedes-Benz they were traveling in hit a pillar in a Paris tunnel in August 1997.
They were being followed at the time by the paparazzi after leaving the Ritz Hotel. Investigators concluded that their driver, who also was killed, was drunk and driving at high speed.
‘Disturbing, but not uncommon’
The letter describes in detail how the photographer who rented a car to turn into a makeshift “hide” sought to snap the toddler prince.
The incident, only last week, was “disturbing, but not at all uncommon,” Knauf noted.
The man “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,” he said.
“It is of course upsetting that such tactics – reminiscent as they are of past surveillance by groups intent on doing more than capturing images – are being deployed to profit from the image of a two-year old boy.”
At a time of heightened security, such tactics are a risk to everyone, Knauf said. And security forces may not always be able to tell immediately whether someone is seeking to take photos or do more serious harm.