5 times The British royals sued the press in order to preserve their privacy – While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had to move house, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana took on the Daily Mirror.
- Kate Middleton was photographed topless while on vacation in France with Prince William, and a reporter even disguised as a footman to take pictures inside Buckingham Palace.
- When his former housekeeper Wendy Berry wrote her memoir The Housekeeper’s Diary, exposing intimate details about Princess Diana, Prince Charles filed legal action.
While there are many advantages to being part of the British royal family, the fame and fortune that comes with it also comes at a price.
The sheer popularity of a royal news story often leads members of the press to overstep the mark – and even the law – in search of the royal scoop that could make them famous.
Here are five cases in which members of the royal clan fought back against invasions of their privacy.
Queen Elizabeth vs Daily Mirror
This caused a great scandal when it happened. In 2003, an undercover journalist managed to gain unprecedented access to Buckingham Palace when he applied for – and got – a job as a footman in the royal household. The reporter Ryan Parry gave a fake reference on his application and managed to get a photo of Queen Elizabeth‘s breakfast table, among other clandestine photos from the palace.
After the Daily Mirror published several of the images on its front page, the Queen’s lawyers turned to the courts to prevent the newspaper from publishing any further images it may have had. Eventually, the Queen and the newspaper reached a settlement.
Prince Charles vs his former housekeeper
Prince Charles is no stranger to litigation, but back in 1995, he got a High Court injunction that stopped a former Highgrove maid of his, Wendy Berry, from releasing her memoirs chronicling the time she worked for the prince and his then-wife, Princess Diana.
The injunction only applied in the UK however, and Berry published in the US. The book, titled The Housekeeper’s Diary, claimed violent confrontations between the royal couple and discussed Princess Diana’s connection with James Hewitt. The prince was subsequently granted an order which enabled him to collect the royalties from the book.
Prince William and Kate Middleton vs a French magazine
After publishing topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, the French magazine Closer found itself in the crosshairs of Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton. The two were vacationing in France when the pictures were taken.
After a lengthy court case, the Cambridges were awarded 100,000 euros ($117,100) in damages for invasion of their privacy. The magazine’s editor and publisher were also fined a total of 90,000 euros ($106,000), Yahoo! News reports.
Princess Diana vs Daily Mirror
As her brother tragically said at her funeral in 1997: “Of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this – a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.” Diana was relentlessly pursued by the media, which led to a clash between the late Princess of Wales and the Daily Mirror in 1993.
According to the BBC, the newspaper published pictures of Diana working out at a gym, obtained from the gym’s owner. Daily Mirror eventually paid £1 million ($1,372,000) towards Diana’s legal fees, as well as a sum of £200,000 ($274,400) to a charity.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle vs an entertainment news agency
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have raised a lot of dust with their outspokenness, but they have perhaps gone further than any other royals when it comes to protecting their family and privacy from the prying eyes of the media. They have been at loggerheads several times over published stories, leaks and pictures of their lives. One such case occurred in 2019 when Splash News published pictures of the couple’s home in Oxfordshire.
Splash had hired a helicopter to fly over the Sussex home, snapping photos and forcing the couple to leave. According to The Guardian, “Prince Harry has accepted substantial compensation and an apology” from the news agency.