British royals warn media over paparazzi shots

LONDON: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has warned newspapers not to publish paparazzi pictures of the royal family, Buckingham Palace said today, as theroyals prepare for their Christmas break.

The sovereign’s lawyers have contacted newspapers reminding them of privacy obligations under their own code of practice.

The royals traditionally spend their winter break at Queen Elizabeth’s private Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England.

“There was a letter sent to all the editors, it was private and not for publication,” a spokeswoman for the monarch’s Buckingham Palace official residence told AFP.

“It was in response to many years of the royal family

being hounded by photographers on the queen’s private property.” The letter was sent through lawyers six to eight weeks ago and covered all members of the royal family, the spokeswoman said.

She declined to comment

on whether legal action

had been threatened.

Freelance photographers normally spend hours monitoring the area to get pictures of the family on the estate.

However, this year photographers will be monitored

on public roads around

the estate.

Last Christmas at Sandringham, the queen’s youngest son Prince Edward was accused of beating a dog after he was pictured waving a stick at two quarrelling gundogs.

Prince William, second in line to the throne, and his girlfriend Kate Middleton were pictured during a hunt.

Paddy Harveson, spokesman for William’s father Prince Charles, said: “Members

of the royal family feel they have a right to privacy when they are going about everyday, private activities.

“They recognise there is a public interest in them

and what they do, but they

do not think this extends to photographing the private

activities of them and their friends.” William voiced concern in 2007 after Middleton was hounded by the paparazzi outside her London home. And the role of the paparazzi in the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales in a 1997 Paris car crash has also been widely scrutinised.

The BBC’s royal correspondent Peter Hunt said legal action seemed far off, though might be taken if the monarch’s appeal was ignored.

“This is very much a warning shot across the bows,” he said.

“After years of turning a

blind eye, senior royals have decided to take a more robust approach to what they see as unjustified intrusion.”