Photographs of Prince George sat on a police motorbike in the private grounds of Kensington Palace were not in the public interest and so breached the young royal’s privacy, press regulator IPSO has ruled.
The Duchess of Cambridge and her then two-year-old son complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the photos of him published on 25 May on Express.co.uk and Ok! online were in breach of the Editor’s Code of Conduct under Clause 2.
The royals said that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the private grounds and had given no permission for photographs to be taken.
The photographer told IPSO he had been walking through Hyde Park on his way to the gym when he came across armed police who were waiting for the arrival of members of the Royal Family by helicopter.
He said that a large crowd had formed when he noticed Prince George, his mother and police officers. He admitted using a long lens to capture the image from more than 200 yards away.
The royals told IPSO that there are only a limited number of vantage points from which individuals within the grounds might be seen, and even then it is difficult with the naked eye because of the distance.
They added the fact that they might have been visible to some individuals outside their home did not remove their reasonable expectation of privacy and that no public interest was served by publishing the images.
Both the Express and OK! denied the images had shown the complainants in a private interaction.
They said the police officers were photographed while on duty, and it was important for the public to see how members of the Royal Family interacted with public servants, particularly when the officers had been “commandeered for a three-year-old’s entertainment”.
They said that as an heir to the throne, Prince George was not in the position of an “ordinary child” – he was a subject of great public interest – and that as public servants, the public has a right to know what members of the Royal Family are doing.
They said the press should not be prevented from publishing harmless photographs of them, taken within view of the public, which show something out of the ordinary.
IPSO’s Complaints Committee did not accept that any public interest had been served by the publication of the images, which they said “simply showed Prince George playing on a police motorbike”.
Any general public interest in the activities of the Royal Family was also inadequate, according to IPSO, “particularly in the case of Prince George given that the Code requires an exceptional public interest to over-ride the normally paramount interests of children under 16”.
The press regulator upheld the complaint and ordered both sites to carry its adjudication, running to more than 430 words each.