Belfast Telegraph

If William and Kate don't want kids photographed, they shouldn't go to the park

By Lindy McDowell

Could Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, learn a lesson from Kim Kardashian? In recent days the Duchess and her husband William have issued a stern statement asking paparazzi to lay off the young Prince George. Apparently the child has been snapped as he played in a public park. While the vast majority of newspapers and media outlets at home and abroad have shunned such photographs, they have been sold to, and appeared in, a number of overseas publications.

The statement from the royal household outlines some of the ploys which have been used by the paps to get close to their quarry.

In one instance a hide (in the back of a vehicle) was used by a photographer who holed up there as he lay in wait for George and his minders to arrive in a public play area. In another incident small children were even used to lure the toddler into lens range.

This is not pleasant stuff and you can see why the child's parents would be angry about it. They just want him to have a normal childhood, say royal sources.

But here's the thing - define "normal". This is a child who also appears on palace balconies. He is destined one day to be king. His life will never be "normal" in the normal sense. Public interest in him (and his baby sister) will never be normal either.

In this the royal babes are not actually unique. Celebrity offspring - of which there currently seem to be an infinite supply - are also regular paparazzi targets.

Kim and Kanye's geographically-named little North West. The Beckham brood - Harper in particular. The Pitt-Jolies. And many, many more.

These children, too, are regularly photographed. The difference in the cases just mentioned being that their parents appear to have a more laid-back attitude where paparazzi intrusion is concerned. In the case of Kim and Kanye you even get the impression that they are quite happy with it.

Granted, where the Royals are concerned there is a more pressing question about security (although mega-rich celebs will also have their own concerns re: potential kidnappers). The statement from the royal household alludes to this point and suggests skulking photographers could find themselves mistaken for posing a very different sort of threat.

But while having sympathy with William and Kate in their desire to keep their children out of the limelight, I still think a bit of realism has to come into the equation. If you want to shield your children entirely from potential paparazzi intrusion a public play park is probably not the best place to choose to take them. Harsh, I know, but true.

This is a family not short of a few private gardens or private play areas. Of course, they want to let their children experience the real world - "normality" - but the fact is that a toddler isn't going to notice a big difference between feeding the ducks in his own palace backyard and in, say, Kensington Gardens.

The other option is to do like Kim Kardashian and the Beckhams et al and accept that there is considerable public interest in your child and that the international paparazzi don't always play by the rule book.

In fact, the more you seek to control the release of images the more lucrative one of those furtively captured snaps becomes.

The fact is that as Charlotte and George grow up there will be more and more interest in them and unless their parents decide to sequester them entirely within palace grounds they will be seen and they will be photographed.

The most important thing you would think has to be the level of security around the children.

And if lurking lensman can snap pictures without being seen, how close can other, even dodgier parties get?

New Labour proves Corbyn's best friend 

The sudden popularity of Jeremy Corbyn. Even he seems baffled by it.

But how much has it been fuelled by the efforts, indeed by the desperation, of what used to be called New Labour to try to derail the Jeremy juggernaut? Might they have been better advised to lay off?

The belated attempt by Andy Burnham to portray himself as Corbyn-lite suggests even he knows all the party preaching isn't working.

Personally, I wouldn't touch Corbyn with an electoral barge pole. But I can see how the appeals of tired old New Labour have helped him steam ahead in the polls.

The more they rail against him, the more they help his cause.

In any language, this is a tragedy

The plight of the migrants fleeing and/or being trafficked into Europe is the greatest crisis of the day.

The focus from the UK's point of view has been on Calais and the camps there. But maybe we should all be paying a bit more attention to the tragic traffic across the Mediterranean - and the horrific toll in human lives.

As for how come so many want to make it into the UK, critics say they're attracted mainly by the benefits system.

A more salient argument is that very many of those people heading here in order to find work have a vital qualification to help them find it. They can speak English. Whatever the barriers in their way, language is not one of them.

Belfast Telegraph


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