Middleton is not just a public figure; she is a universal sign of propriety and grace. She knows her role in royal society and she plays it well. Beautiful, kind and always with a gracious smile on her face, she is a perfect person for the media to prey on. Although it might have been a slight cave in judgment to expose herself in any way at all, the legal ramifications should still be extensive. In America, the paparazzi have an overwhelming power to poke their noses into any celebrity’s business if they want to. If you’re a public figure, you’re fair game. There is a similar situation in the U.K. and the royal family will always be under close watch by the public eye. It’s something they have all come to accept. Yet this particular incident is disturbing not only because it’s an invasion of privacy, but because for me it brings back bitter memories of the late Princess Diana, William’s mother. The Princess was constantly hounded by the media, making her daily life extremely difficult. She was killed in a tragic car accident at the age of 36 and the paparazzi took pictures of her in the mangled wreck. She was the “People’s Princess” and a despairing example that prying media has no boundaries. What that photographer and magazine did regarding Middleton’s photos was not only questionable legally, but it was morally wrong, and England’s royalty is completely justified in filing a lawsuit.
Alexander Benedict Craggs IV, a UT sophomore from England, gave me a little perspective on what he thinks of the incident. His grandfather is a Lord in Parliament and was even in attendance at the royal couple’s wedding. Craggs stated that, “The whole event was blown out of proportion. It’s only big because of who they are, but it’s still an invasion of privacy. Closer is a low quality magazine anyways.” When I asked him what his thoughts were on the Prince Harry scandal he said, “As a young Englishman, to me it’s really not that big of a deal. It’s different for guys. He’s done stuff like that before.” We also discussed the royal family’s role as heads of state. They are the country’s figureheads and have a “moral responsibility to the public.” They simply don’t live by the same rules as the general English community.
The media culture in Europe is also quite different than what we see in America. Newspapers are printed every day in the U.K. with nude pictures of women, colloquially known as the “page three girl.” Regardless of the seriousness of the newspaper’s content, nudity is commonplace. Even on television, profanity is not that big of a deal. Yet Middleton’s photos do not only concern England. The Duchess of Cambridge is such a public figure that it became global news when her photos were published. It wasn’t reported as big news in England, or any other country, when Kim Kardashian’s sex tape was revealed or when Britney Spears shaved her head. Middleton is much more renowned and respected as a celebrity.
However these celebrities are also human beings, and are not incapable of error. When you’re a figurehead, you’re not going to have a private life and even the smallest decisions you make have the potential to create serious problems. No, it’s not fair, but in Middleton’s status position there’s really nothing she can do about it. It’s a shame that the newlyweds don’t get to enjoy their lives like everybody else, yet it’s their duty to uphold a proper public image. The photographer took those pictures wrongfully, and both he and the magazine should be reprimanded. Middleton exposed herself to this kind of attention, and even though it was a private area it’s better to be safe than sorry.