Just what does a royal family have to do for a quiet life these days? After a jubilant Diamond Jubilee year and Olympic summer that saw the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh fulfil their duties with grandeur and aplomb—including the monarch appearing in a James Bond skit, no less—how has it come to this? A legal battle against several magazines, something that breaks all manner of conventions and protocol, and a new wave of discussion as to what the monarch and her family’s relationship with her subjects should be.
And things were looking so much brighter. More than a year after the British people had fallen in love with the next generation of its sovereign’s household, a series of paparazzi nightmares has plunged its shaky relationship with its adoring public back to a darker time. A time of constant intrusion, leaks, realpolitik and, of course, the grim denouement, the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
First there was Prince Harry, never far from the headlines, and the pictures of his drunken, naked tomfoolery in a Las Vegas hotel with a group of young women that were published at the end of August. The pictures themselves were actually taken by a member of the hen party Harry and his retinue had befriended in America’s ‘Sin City’; so many were quick to point out it was not the media which was at fault, but an oleaginous member of the public seeking to exploit her access to a private party.
And more importantly, many defended the young royal’s behaviour as simply that of a young man with a high-pressure job enjoying some time off. That Harry is back on the frontline in Afghanistan now for his second tour with the British army’s Household Cavalry is testament to this backing: if this young man is willing to serve for his country, just like his brother, father and uncles, while so many men his...