So the Queen is the latest celeb to seek shelter behind the widening law of privacy.
It’s a risky move.
Editors have been asked not to accept pictures of the royal family taken when on private business. While they may choose to do so out of respect for the Monarch (a big if) it is by no means clear that they are compelled to do so under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (the law which underpins the broadening definition of privacy in the UK).
The extent to which those in the public eye are entitled to privacy usually hinges on how much they have invited the media into their lives in the past. The Queen, Prince Charles and other Royals have not been shy about inviting in the cameras, and briefing journalists about private matters, in the past when seeking to protect their financial and constitutional position.
The current law which appears to largely give those in the public eye a right to privacy when on private business stems from the 2004 European Court of Human Rights decision in the case of Princess Caroline of Monaco.
It interpreted Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention as meaning: “The public does not have a legitimate interest in knowing where [Princess Caroline] is and how she behaves generally in her private life.”
But that involved German magazines prying into the life of a non-working Monaco royal who had long shunned the limelight.
The huge civil list salaries paid to the Queen and other UK Royals – and the important constitutional role the Queen plays, especially in the case of a hung parliament, as could happen next year, mean that the privacy balance is more weighted in favour of the media in this case.
It’s a big gamble however you look at it.
If editors ignore the Queen’s wishes she will continue to have to contend with paps but her authority is diminished.
If they obey her, the Royals may find themselves being ignored by the media altogether in favour of more co-operative celebrities – a situation which could make things precarious when Kings Charles III and his consort seek a new mandate for the continuation of the British Royal Family in its current form.