Do the paparazzi still harass the royal family like they did two decades ago?

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Princess Diana mobbed by photographers as she leaves the Royal College of Nursing in 1994 [Photo: PA]
Princess Diana mobbed by photographers as she leaves the Royal College of Nursing in 1994 [Photo: PA]

It’s hard to forget the paparazzi’s treatment of Princess Diana right up to – and during – her death.

Twenty years after the fatal Paris car crash, both Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge have spoken out against their coarse treatment of their mother, the former describing in a BBC documentary how she was “chased” into the tunnel where she died, photographers still snapping away as she lay injured.

But after two decades of reflection, has photographers’ aggression in getting footage of the family eased up at all?

Terry Kirby, who was a national newspaper journalist for 20 years and now a senior lecturer and director of the school of journalism at Goldsmiths University, told Sky News that the British media are having to wise up after being “constantly warned” about how they treat the royals.

After all, who can forget the Duke of Cambridge’s £1.3m compensation demand for French Closer’s publishing of topless images of Kate in 2012?

And only two years ago, Kensington Palace issued a strong warning to worldwide media organisations against the “dangerous” tactics used to get close to and photograph little Prince George – not to mention another directed at Meghan Markle’s harassers last year.

Kirby says that these repeated cautions – along with the Leveson inquiry and phone-hacking scandal – has created a “wariness that wasn’t there before.”

“There’s also a greater professionalism amongst the Palace and Royal Family press officers to issue those edicts to say ‘back off’ whenever necessary, together with the threat of legal action,” he explained.

The ‘next generation’ of royals are much more media savvy [Photo: PA}
The ‘next generation’ of royals are much more media savvy [Photo: PA}

“It didn’t really happen during Diana’s time. There was this stoic ‘we’ve got to put up with it’ attitude.”

He also believe that the ‘new generation’ of royals – Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – are “much more on the case when it comes to dealing with any breaches of privacy”, satiating the media’s need for images with official releases and social media updates of their own.

Despite this, he believes that the media’s interest in the Royal Family is “every bit as much as it was in Diana’s day”, since after all, the Royals still trump Kim Kardashian at every turn.

“As soon as George and Charlotte start going to senior schools and start dating and everything, which isn’t going to be that far away, it will become even more intense,” he added.

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