How the Royal Family Maintains Privacy for Their Children
In the U.S. alone, 22.8 million people watched Prince William marry Kate Middleton in 2011, and royal watchers have remained fascinated with their relationship ever since. (And, OK, fascinated by the royal family in general.) As of today, that includes their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, the third, fourth, and fifth in line to the British throne.
Will and Kate feel strongly that their children, who are the subject of the media's constant attention, should have moments where they feel like regular kids. "William and Kate want to bring up their children as normal as possible," Royal expert and ABC News royal contributor Omid Scobie said. Traditionally, royal children had been sheltered, but Princess Diana changed things up. She "never let protocol and the palace walls get in the way of raising her boys," Scobie said, and would often bring them to McDonald's, or an amusement park. These "normal" moments were incredibly important to both Will and Harry.
Kate and Will have definitely kept that tradition for their kids, striving to allow for normalcy and regular childhood moments. Here's how they do it:
THEY SPEND LOTS OF TIME OUTSIDE LONDON.
After Princess Charlotte was born in 2015, Kate and Will decided to move to their Norfolk house, Anmer Hall, full-time—the ten-bedroom house serves as a sort of country escape for the fam. Prince George started Montessori at a school nearby. Now that Prince George is in school at Thomas's Battersea, they spend more time in London (Kensington Palace is now their permanent residence), but spending time away from the city gives them a break from the paparazzi. They still spend school holidays there.
Even before that, when the couple was first married and after they had George, the couple lived in North Wales. (That's even further from London.)
THEY LIMIT THE
AMOUNT OF PHOTOGRAPHERS EVEN PRESENT AT SPECIAL OCCASIONS.
When both George and Charlotte started nursery school, the only photos available were ones Kate took herself. In many instances,
And when George started school at Thomas's Battersea in London, he went with his dad William. Kate was pregnant with Louis and suffering severe morning sickness, so she didn't go. There were only a few photographers present, one of whom was royal photog Chris Jackson (whose wife is Kate's personal assistant and stylist).
By contrast, when William started school, the streets were lined with tons of journalists and photographers, and he found that "quite upsetting," according to CNN royal commentator Victoria Arbiter. Here's a photo of what it looked like that day:
AND THEY'VE ISSUED WARNINGS TO THE PRESS ABOUT PAPARAZZI PHOTOS.
In 2015, when George was 2 and Charlotte was a newborn, the royal family issued a stern warning to the press about the increasingly aggressive tactics used to capture photos of the children. Kensington Palace released a statement, detailing what some paparazzi did.
One recent incident – just last week – was disturbing, but not at all uncommon. A photographer rented a car and parked in a discreet location outside a children's play area.
Already concealed by darkened windows, he took the added step of hanging sheets inside the vehicle and created a hide stocked with food and drinks to get him through a full day of surveillance, waiting in hope to capture images of Prince George. Police discovered him lying down in the boot of the vehicle attempting to shoot photos with a long lens through a small gap in his hide.
They also scolded members of the media for using long-range lenses to take pictures of the kids in private parks, taking pictures of playmates of George and Charlotte (who are private citizens), and for going as far as using other children as bait, basically, to lure George and Charlotte in to frame! On top of that, they asked members of the public to not buy publications that use unauthorized photos of the children.
Basically, they called everyone out in a major way, similarly to how Prince Harry did when he and Meghan Markle first started dating, which was "unprecedented," according to Arbiter.
THEY GENERALLY CONTROL WHICH PHOTOS OF THEIR CHILDREN ARE RELEASED, AND WHEN.
Scobie explains that Wills and KMid choose to compromise on some moments so that they can be more private with others. For example, because a few photographers were allowed to accompany George to that first morning of school, the media generally stays away from his school and Charlotte's the rest of the time, this being an implicit, longstanding agreement
Another example is the family's recent trip to Mustique. Because Will and Kate released Prince George's 5th birthday portrait right before their vacay, the press has left them alone during their trip, Scobie explains.
Usually, un-sanctioned photos are a no-no for members of the media who want to remain on Kensington Palace's good side, Arbiter explained. But those adorable pictures of Kate, George
In the past, the family might have objected to photos like this, but in this instance, Kensington Palace didn't put up a fight about them because, Arbiter said, "There was little to complain about. They were adorable
For the press, it's about being a part of the milestone moments, but knowing when it's appropriate to back away. "Nothing is a given, but in terms of managing to keep a good relationship with the British media, it's in William's and Kate's interest to [release photos]," Arbiter said.
THEY ASKED THEIR NEIGHBORS TO RESPECT THEIR PRIVACY.
When Kate and Will first came home from the hospital with Charlotte, Norfolk police issued letters to the community on their behalf asking for privacy—for the sake of their young children.
There have in the past been a number of intrusions into the privacy of the Royal Family which in the main have been as a result of professional photographers using long-distance lenses, not only to observe the Royal
Now that Will and Kate live at Kensington Palace, their neighbors are other royals (like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) who get the whole privacy thing.
AND THEY PLANTED MORE... TREES?
When Kate and Will moved back to Kensington Palace, they were worried about the prying eyes of the press, so they reportedly had gardeners plant conifers (a.k.a. Christmas trees) outside the residence to help prevent paparazzi sneaking shots of the grounds. They created a 40-foot high and 820-foot long barrier around the home.
THEY HIRED A NANNY WHO KNOWS HOW TO AVOID SECURITY THREATS.
The children's nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, is a graduate of the famed Norland School for nannies. When she was there, she learned how to drive defensively—in part so that she could avoid paparazzi who may want to take photos of the royal children while they're in the car.
THEIR FRIENDS KNOW NOT TO LEAK INFORMATION.
William and Harry's parents, Charles and Diana, had a messy divorce that played out in front of the whole world. And part of that problem, Arbiter explained, was their friends didn't keep their mouths shut and leaked details to the press.
"This day and age, this generation of royals, their friends are incredibly loyal," Arbiter says. "Nobody wants to be thrown out of the royal circle. So where in Charles and Diana's day, the press used to be able to pay off someone for a tip... this circle does not leak."
Arbiter says that when she covered the first royal wedding in 2011,
AND THEIR FRIENDS AREN'T ALLOWED TO POST ABOUT THEIR WHEREABOUTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
When Meghan and Harry started dating, her friends got guidance from Kensington Palace on the general rules of social media, according to Scobie. It's believed the same applies
Scobie said this isn't just about privacy. "It's also about security. Let's say Prince George is 15 years old and he's at a friends house party, and he has friends that post that on social media... his security is suddenly jeopardized. The most important thing is to never put the lives of members of the royal family at risk."
THEY STAY AWAY FROM PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA.
It's not that Will, Kate, Harry, and Meghan *can't have social media, it's that they choose not to. If Meghan wanted to start an Instagram, or Will wanted to have a Twitter, there's no protocol in place stopping them from doing that, Scobie said. Case in point, Princess Eugenie's public Instagram. But not having these platforms helps them maintain a feeling of distance from the public because they're sharing less of their personal lives with the world. It's possible they have super private accounts, too, that are impossible to find. Arbiter said she believes Harry had a private Twitter at one point, but that's not the case anymore.
"Social media would make it way too hands-on," Arbiter echoed.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.