SO members of the paparazzi have been criticised by the royal family again, this time for using underhand tactics to obtain photographs of the toddler prince. Here is my solution to this perennial problem. Life would be much simpler if more of us belonged to that sensible group known as the couldn’t-care-less-arazzi.
I am a long-time agnostic when it comes to the royals. I wouldn’t cross the road to see one of them to be honest, not that they come down our road very often. This stance is not one of hostility, or not so much nowadays: the hostility burnt itself out years ago. It is just a giant shrug in the face of their pomp and circumstance, and in the face of their occasional pretences to be just like the rest of us.
I can only recall ever having seen one member of the royal clan. It was at the Great Yorkshire Show and Prince Charles was being ushered around amid a tweedy throng of security people and show dignitaries. Everyone else was eased out of the way so that Charles and Camilla could stroll by. And that was enough royals to last a lifetime for this loyally disinterested subject.
The latest fall-out with the media does not really concern our own newspapers. Most British editors have agreed not to publish unauthorised pictures of Prince George and Princess Charlotte while they are growing up. Instead access is granted to officially sanctioned photographs. These often show young George wearing embroidered toddler pantaloons or something of the type. Such curious garments were last worn by non-royals around 50 years ago, if even then.
Admittedly he is a very cute looking boy. The role he has been born to is not his fault and he should be able to live out his rather gilded childhood in a degree of privacy.
Using other young children as lures, hiding in sand dunes, hiding in the boots of cars – all of these and other such low tricks have apparently been employed by paparazzi snappers. The reason is simple enough: a ‘good’ shot of young George will be worth a lot of money, with various continental and US publications happy to pay top dollar.
There is a tricky balance to strike here. In this latest counter-attack, Kensington Palace issued the strongest worded warning yet to the paparazzi (and what a great word that is, a wonderfully fizzy word for what some see as a lower lifeform), accusing photographers of using “increasingly dangerous tactics” to get their pictures. Mention was even made of the danger that photographers could be shot. Whether this was in error or just because the royals don’t much like photographers is open to debate. Well, no it isn’t, not really. I don’t think anyone is yet suggesting that illicit photographers should be shot. Although Prince Charles might sanction a warning shot or two over the head of the BBC’s Nicholas Witchell.
While young George should be free to live as normal a life as possible, there are different shades here too. Jason Knauf, communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, complains about people attempting to profit from images of a two-year-old boy. He is probably right, but there is also an undercurrent here of presenting and preserving the royal brand.
The royals are kept in the public eye by the media, yet they also wish to control the media. A sanctioned picture is not an intrusion, by its nature, but it is also doing the job of presenting an “acceptable” face of the royals.
Trying to live a simulacrum of an ordinary life can’t be easy under those circumstances. But privilege does have its price too. Mind you, if everyone joined me in a big jaw-cracking yawn of a shrug, then there wouldn’t be a problem at all. Sadly that’ll never happen.