Naked Prince Harry pictures: British media in turmoil
Leveson inquiry blamed for scaring the press as London papers steer clear of nude Harry pics
THE BRITISH media is in turmoil after pictures of a naked Prince Harry were published on the American gossip website, TMZ. Clarence House has reportedly requested that the British press refrain from using the images, and the episode has promoted a vigorous debate about the right to privacy, the impact of the Leveson inquiry and the role of the internet.
"The publication of the photographs [online] marks a new level of media intrusion into the lives of the royal family," noted The Guardian, which also said that the British press seemed cowed by the story.
"The reticence of the British media is likely to be interpreted by some in the industry as further evidence of a chilling effect caused by the Leveson inquiry into media ethics."
That view was expressed by a number of journalists on Twitter. There were claims that the press was "censoring" itself and former News of the World editor Neil Wallis tweeted: "#Harrypix perfect example of how #Leveson has cowed our media. He must be so proud. Rest of world discussing pix no-one dares show you here."
That was a theme taken up by Guido Fawkes. The political blogger claimed to be the only British media outlet that had published the images, and he wrote: "The truth is the old media have been scared into submission by the Leveson Inquiry. This is the third in line to the throne, the son of Prince Charles and one of the biggest names in British public life.
“Yet not one British newspaper is reporting the story with pictures. Nevertheless everyone in Britain will be searching online for these pictures and will find them regardless. The old rules won't work in the internet age."
Tellingly, websites in continental Europe were happy to use the pictures. They were posted on the sites of Italian newspapers Il Giornale and Corriere Della Sera.
Blogger Fleetstreetfox said the traditional media had been painted into a corner: "The only justification for publication today would be that it was in the public interest. This is a tricky thing to define, because it starts off with exposing crime and goes down a sliding scale into public morals, which is in every sense a sticky area."
Jules Stenson, a former senior journalist at the defunct News o0f the World, tweeted: "How can press not run Harry pix when all over the net? If real, Harry security risk - blackmail target. Public interest in their exposure."
The Daily Telegraph echoed that thought. "Dai Davies, former head of royal protection at the Metropolitan Police, said the photographs demonstrated the difficulty of protecting a young member of the Royal Family but added that it raised questions over the cost of high level security to the taxpayer."
The Telegraph digital media editor Emma Barnett said the affair highlighted the perils of life in the 21st century when everyone is armed with a smartphone and has access to sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Harry's father, she wrote, "only had the official paparazzi to worry about" during his days as a bachelor. "Now everyone has become the paparazzi with their very own publishing platforms. The web and smartphones have made sure of it and given Prince Harry a rude reminder."
Back on Twitter, one user, known only as Peter, summed up the irony of the situation when he wrote: "Everyone complained about media hounding his mother to death.. But are now salivating at highly invasive naked pix of Prince Harry. Hey ho."
Elsewhere, the staunchly royalist Daily Mail was more concerned about the impact on the reputation of the Queen.
"The third in line to the throne has been accused of bringing the Royal Family into global disrepute," it declared. "The prince's advisors at St James’s Palace were this morning locked in meetings about how best to handle the scandal."