Royal family in privacy row with YouTube over video of Prince William confronting photographer

·3-min read
The Duke has previously been highly critical of social media firms - WPA Pool/Getty Images
The Duke has previously been highly critical of social media firms - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Duke of Cambridge has spent years negotiating a world in which he can enjoy a weekend bicycle ride with his children in peace.

That ambition has suffered a setback, after a video Kensington Palace says breaches the Cambridge family's privacy was viewed by tens of thousands of people despite attempts to block it.

The video, which was viewed more than 20,000 times on Monday, shows the Duke confronting a photographer after he was filmed with his family near Sandringham, Norfolk.

The Duke, 40, is seen remonstrating with a man videoing him, while his wife and three children are off camera nearby.

Kensington Palace has responded by arguing it was a breach of the family’s privacy.

The short video was uploaded four days ago, more than a year after the incident occurred.

It is understood staff have sought the removal of the video from websites, with lawyers also writing to the photographer directly shortly after the dispute. On Monday night, the three-minute-long video was still available on YouTube with a version circulating on TikTok as well.

It underlines the significant challenges facing the Royal family in the online era, where rules followed by the traditional media do not apply.

The British print media does not publish photographs or videos of the Royal family in private circumstances, being particularly sensitive to images of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

The Duke, who watched his mother’s experience with the paparazzi as a schoolboy, has spent years finessing an arrangement in which he authorises a small number of photographs of the children each year in recognition of their future public roles, while insisting on their total privacy the rest of the time.

The Cambridges authorise a small number of photos of their children each year - Kensington Palace/PA
The Cambridges authorise a small number of photos of their children each year - Kensington Palace/PA

But images of the children are regularly posted on social media, and sold to European publications working under different laws and press watchdogs.

The Duke has previously been highly critical of social media firms and their approach to fake news, privacy issues and cyber-bullying, accusing them of failing to take the issues seriously.

The latest video was filmed in January 2021 near the Cambridges’ Anmer Hall home where the Duke, Duchess and their three children were riding their bikes along a country lane.

It shows the Duke confronting a photographer who claimed to have been in the area on public roads only looking for the Saturday Sandringham shoot.

It is understood that Kensington Palace has asked for it to be removed from the platforms, in line with their usual policy about privacy.

Staff have previously been successful in appealing for unauthorised photographs of the children to be taken down.

The video was filmed near to the Cambridges’ Anmer home in Norfolk - REX Shutterstock
The video was filmed near to the Cambridges’ Anmer home in Norfolk - REX Shutterstock

The Duke has previously warned of the dangers of social media networks and what he saw as the disinclination of their executives to deal with a range of problems which affected users.

“I am very concerned though that on every challenge they face – fake news, extremism, polarisation, hate speech, trolling, mental health, privacy, and bullying – our tech leaders seem to be on the back foot,” he said in 2018.

“Their self-image is so grounded in their positive power for good that they seem unable to engage in constructive discussion about the social problems that they are creating.”

A spokesman for YouTube has not yet commented.

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