Duchess of division as privacy row boils over

Snappy: “We paid £2.4m to renovate her cottage. So we have a right to photograph her in public.”

Is Meghan Markle asking for too much privacy? Critics say she is betraying the unwritten contract by which the royals are funded by taxpayers in exchange for becoming VERY public figures.

Sally Jones has loved tennis since she was a little girl.

So, it is no surprise that she was to be found the other day in the members’ seats at Wimbledon, using her phone — like thousands of other fans — to take photos of Serena Williams.

She felt a tap on her shoulder.

“Would you not take photographs of the Duchess,” a voice ordered politely. “She’s here in a private capacity.”

A minor incident. Insignificant to most.

Yet when this story emerged on Monday in The Daily Telegraph, the paper of deeply monarchist middle Britain, it was as if a blue touchpaper had been lit on a time bomb.

“It’s tacky,” said actress Tatum O’Neal on Good Morning Britain. “Diana would never have done it.”

From all over the world, highly-paid commentators and experts are still piling in.

“Meghan is behaving like a celebrity, not a royal.” “She’s a control freak.” “No wonder she is nicknamed the Difficult Duchess.” “Staff call her Me-Gain.”

What is really going on here? Is Meghan really wrong to demand her privacy?

Markle sparkle

Set aside the ugly hostility (which all should condemn) and there’s a serious point, says one camp. The royal family’s relationship with the public is essentially a transaction and always has been. Taxpayers willingly keep them in great luxury. In return, all they expect is that this family is willing to connect with and embody the hopes of the people.

But another camp is more sympathetic. The press and the public are treading on dangerous ground. It is easy to whip up very nasty feelings in his hyper-connected age. Beware the reserves of racism and xenophobia that lurk beneath. No sooner is Meghan Markle hailed as a fairytale princess, than the world seems to have turned against her. She needs our love and support right now.

You Decide

  1. Does the public have a right to photograph royals?

Activities

  1. Imagine you were Meghan Markle for a day. Write a diary entry for that day, assuming that nobody will read it until long after you are dead.

Some People Say...

“Republics come to an end through luxury; monarchies through poverty.”

Montesquieu, French philosopher (1689-1785)

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Royal reporting is very secretive. There is an awful lot of guessing, whispering and rumour. All we really know for sure in this story is that royal protection officers did ask one or two people to stop taking photos around the Duchess of Sussex, at Wimbledon last week.
What do we not know?
We don’t know if it was Meghan Markle who asked for privacy, or if it was someone else who made the decision that day. Meghan might simply have been following advice. We don’t know if she is really difficult or demanding in private. These are just reported from anonymous sources.

Word Watch

Monarchist
One who supports and believes in the system of government that includes a king or queen as head of state.
Middle Britain
Phrase referring to middle class and lower-middle class people in the UK who hold traditional views.
Blue touchpaper
The slow-burning fuse at the end of a firework, normally made out of specially flammable blue paper.
Hyper-connected
Linked to one another by devices that have the internet, so information travels quickly.
Xenophobia
Dislike of people from other countries.