Monday, December 7, 2009

The Queen warns the paparazzi

The Queen has decided to take action against paparazzi photographers who picture senior members of the royal family on private property. She has written, through her lawyers, to newspaper editors warning them of her intentions.

With memories of the hounding of Diana, Princess of Wales, still fresh in peoples’ minds and with fears of similar treatment meted out to Prince William and his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, this might seem to be a sensible thing to do. Quite right, you might say. They make themselves available to the Press at official functions and public events, which should be enough.

Every Christmas Day newspapers in the UK rely on pictures of the royal progress to church on the Sandringham estate to fill their front pages. Indeed, there’s little else happening that day to compete. I relied on it for thirty years to get me out of trouble each festive occasion for three different newspapers. So, are they at risk?

Believe me, the royals have enough protection, both legal and firepower, to deal with a small invading army. You try approaching Her Maj without accreditation. Your tootsies won’t touch down till you hit the cell floor. So why this draconian action now?

The Christmas break always sees the royals gather at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk where they enjoy doing what they like best.

Shooting things that fly or flee.

Pheasant that are especially bred for the guns. Stags that can be stalked and brought down with a distant shot. All that’s missing is their traditional love of chasing down a fox. It’s now illegal. Prince William hunts with Kate Middleton. By definition this involves death and blood. Imagine the front pages with those pictures splashed across them?

Last year photographs captured by a paparazzo, who hid in the bushes with a long lens, caused uproar. They showed the Earl of Wessex allegedly beating two gundogs with a four-foot stick. The RSPCA were so outraged they launched a cruelty investigation. The Queen is its Patron. The prince was exonerated.

In 2000 the Queen herself was snapped wringing the neck of a pheasant injured in the Christmas shoot. The pictures went worldwide. It’s not good PR.

Interestingly, says the Telegraph, last year the Queen’s grandchild, Peter Phillips, sold his wedding pictures for £500,000 to Hello magazine. His sister earned £125,000 from the same mag for pictures of her home with her boyfriend, Mike Tyndall. Every paparazzo’s dream.

Any paparazzi trying to get a sale from the bushes this year had better watch out. They might be mistaken for a pheasant.

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