News from the French courts today is that Kate Middleton and Prince William have been vindicated. The royal couple won their lawsuit against tabloid magazine Closer for publishing topless photos of the Duchess while she was sunbathing on a private balcony. According to the Associated Press, the magazine has 24 hours to release all photos back to the royals and may not distribute the photos any further. But now that the damage has been done, I’m not sure any court ruling could have justly restored the couple’s privacy or deterred paparazzi for invading it in the future.
The Judge in the case made it clear that the photos were a huge violation of privacy, saying,
“These snapshots which showed the intimacy of a couple, partially naked on the terrace of a private home, surrounded by a park several hundred meters from a public road, and being able to legitimately assume that they are protected from passers-by, are by nature particularly intrusive. (They) were thus subjected to this brutal display the moment the cover appeared.”
So, the nightmare is over and all is right with the world again, right? A lawyer for Will and Kate called the judgment a “wonderful decision.” Obviously we can all go home happy now.
Except I don’t think that this story will be an outlier when it comes to the life of the royal couple. The fine imposed on the magazine was a measly $2600. Closer made much more than that with their enormous and inappropriate scoop. Magazines in Italy and Ireland have reprinted the images already, and we all know that there’s no taking them off the internet.
Prince William and Kate won a very small victory, but their treatment by the paparazzi won’t change until the consumers and culture force it to. As long as we’re all still willing to buy magazines that print these types of unacceptable and illegally gotten pictures, magazines will continue to run them. As long as we all still search Google for topless pictures of celebrities taken in private or stolen off cell phones, media editors will believe that there’s a market for such invasion of privacy and they’ll continue to condone it. It’s easy to blame the media but there’s one thing I know about this industry: It’s responsive to its consumers.
If people weren’t responding to salacious and inappropriate pieces, most magazines would stop running them. If we didn’t expect that celebrities or royalty be given absolutely no privacy or personal freedom, paparazzi wouldn’t be able to get away with hounding people’s every step or hiding outside of celeb kids’ schools.
I am happy that Will and Kate won their lawsuit against Closer. I was extremely sad to see those pictures be published by anyone. Unfortunately, I don’t think this lawsuit will change the culture and media surrounding the royal couple for the better. The already private couple will have to be even more guarded and wary of the press and paparazzi. They’ll have to hide, sneak, and lie just to get a few moments to themselves. And consumers will actually get the exact opposite of what they want, they’ll get less access than ever before to everyone’s favorite real-life fairytale.