There has been much agita concerning the photos of a topless Duchess of Cambridge taking a break while on a recent private summer holiday. So far, a French and Italian magazine have each said they will publish the topless photos, as has an Irish tabloid. Taken by a lone paparazzo hiding in bushes over 1.5 km away from the pool at the estate where the couple were staying, the photos have created a groundswell of concern. Is this the beginning of history repeating itself with a whole new Diana saga?
The young Royal couple has announced they are fighting back. Unhappy about the invasion of their privacy, they are now seeking an injunction against publication and have also announced they intend to pursue charges against the as yet unknown photographer. The warning shot has been fired and the media is now on notice that the couple will defend themselves.
The PR handbook for dealing with breaches of privacy is limited, and despite legal remedies there is no silver bullet when it come to reclaiming privacy. Other than total withdrawal from public life, what else might the Royals have up their sleeves to muzzle what could become an insatiable media curiosity?
The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Using the established legal rulebook makes sense but is unlikely to change the long-term narrative.
The PR Takeaway: Borrow from history to make a striking point. The ghost of Princes Diana wafts in and out of the press coverage regarding the topless photos. By referencing Diana’s own haunted relationship with photographers, Prince William in particular could change the relationship dynamic with the media. Appealing to the public for privacy, rather than the media, is likely to meet a more receptive audience. A PR strategy that educates the public and chokes off demand for invasive press coverage may be what’s needed if legal remedies disappoint.
Can public sentiment, rather than insatiability for scandal, be used to regain celebrity privacy? Give us your PR Verdict!