It has been just over a week since the French edition of Closer magazine published topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge; what is most shocking about the whole episode is the fact that anybody other than Kate and Wills is still talking about it. Despite all the talk about royal security and press ethics that has accompanied these images, the real issue which is driving this incident is the disturbing dehumanising modern desire to transform the lives of those in the public eye into a soap opera for their viewing pleasure; no matter how much high-minded discussion there is on personal privacy as a result of the release of these photos, no progress will actually be made as it’s such compelling viewing.
There has been an argument put forward which claims that Royal Security is somehow responsible for the release of these photos, suggesting that members of the royal family may be in grave danger; however if a photo taken from a distance of well over a kilometre proves someone is in danger then every public appearance made by the royal couple is near suicidal. Fox News decided that the security detail guarding William and Kate was largely to blame for the intrusive pictures, describing the affair as an “epic security fail”. The Washington Post has recommended an increase in security for all senior royals because of the danger of “someone holding something more dangerous than a camera”. Some are even now suggesting the photos must have been an “inside job”. The reality is that the future King and Queen were no more in danger than they are in their regular day to day lives. William and Kate spend most of the public lives meeting and greeting vast swathes of the general public. The photos taken of the royal couple were taken from a distance of possibly over 1,300 metres. Only 7 successful shots in history have been taken from a distance of 1.3km and all of these were taken by soldiers with the finest sniper training and weapons systems on the planet, most shots were taken in ideal conditions and most kills took several shots to achieve. At every public appearance Will and Kate make they are within touching distance of hundreds of people who have the perfect opportunity to take the royal couple out, if they had the inclination to do so. The fact these photos were taken only proves that if you have $20,000 to splash out on a 600 mm lens, then you can be a very successful peeping Tom.
So these photos don’t suggest the royal couple were in any way more vulnerable than they are usually, so why else might these photos still be relevant? Well, according to many traditional conservatives and royalists, Kate Middleton is to blame for the photos’ release and the episode suggests she is not fit for the job. According to Donald Trump, Kate “shouldn’t be sunbathing in the nude – she only has herself to blame”. Despite Donald’s insistence, and the insistence of many others in the media, Kate is not at all to blame for the emergence of the photos; the burden of blame lies with the general public. These photos would not have surfaced, or even have been taken, if there was not worldwide voyeuristic demand to have an occasional peak into the lives of others, especially the rich and famous. Seven million Britons have seen the topless photos of Kate Middleton, that’s 20% of the adult internet using population. It is disturbing to think that despite knowing these photos would almost certainly result in a legal challenge, owing to France’s strict privacy laws, the editors of Closer were confident that the voyeuristic desire for these pictures would result in sales that would easily outweigh any legal charges. It is only natural for young newlyweds under constant public and press scrutiny to desire a sense of privacy and intimacy and the secluded Chateau D’Autet, where the couple were staying, would have seemed the perfect location for this ambition. Despite the insistence of Media moguls, these pictures do not present us with an ignorant naturist future Queen with loose morals but they show a young couple enjoying an extremely intimate experience that is nobody’s business but their own. It is not the duty of those in the public eye to act as though under constant watch, it is the duty of the public to forsake all interest in the private lives of others.
So what has “boobgate” taught us? Well, whether it be TOWIE or the Royal Family, we all have a strange fascination with the private business of others. The press are only responding to our demands, and it seems that we care a hell of a lot more about some blurry topless shots (I did my research) than the dozens dying in riots throughout the middle east, police corruption in England, a presidential nominee dismissing half of the nation he wants to run and the conference of a political party that is supposedly helping to run the country. It appears that in the era of “reality” television, when Celebrity Big Brother can consistently enthrall over 2 million viewers, the public’s appetite for voyeuristic viewing has grown exponentially and has yet again hit the royal family.