Prince Harry: Fair Game or Invasion of Privacy?

(Posted on 26/08/12)

It didn't take long for photos of Prince Harry to make the rounds, complete with nothing but his royalty to cover his nude body. Many felt the photos invaded his privacy while others insisted it was fair game, including one editor with the Sun, who said not publishing the photos would be "perverse".

A Royal Family solicitor called it a "clear invasion of privacy", but the American website, TMZ, isn't likely to take orders from the family. It was the first to post the photos - but to assume the rest of the world wouldn't run with it would be silly. The Sun was the first UK news publication to print the photos, despite those royal warnings. This, of course, brings up the classic privacy concerns in the digital age.

Soon, the battle come down to "Murdoch's self interest", which is what former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott tweeted, and privacy lawyers and, of course, the media's collective belief that public interest mustn't be underestimated. The fact that the whole world had seen the photos before they were ever officially published in the UK seems to matter little.

The photos depict Prince Harry along with a nude woman and were taken with a cell phone last weekend in Las Vegas. TMZ had a caption that stated a game of "strip billiards" was being played. For its part, the Sun had the caption, "Heir it is: Pic of naked Harry you've already seen on the internet."

Even as some felt law enforcement should get involved to prevent further publications, a spokesperson said even if there was something that could have been done, the person who needed to come forward never did. That person, of course is Prince Harry. Further, that spokesperson said what a newspaper does or does not publish is always left to editor's discretion.

Meanwhile, Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee chairman John Whittingdale said the decision of Sun editors to publish the pictures was unnecessary, "The fact that it happened is well known. How the public interest is served by doing this is not clear."

Interestingly enough, London's mayor, Boris Johnson, maintained a sense of humor when asked his thoughts, "The real scandal would be if you went all the way to Las Vegas and you didn't misbehave in some trivial way".

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