I’ve been aware, secondhand, that there are weird, invasive drone photos of Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex and little Archie in LA, but I haven’t seen or looked for those photos. Again, the Sussexes are staying at Tyler Perry’s mansion, which has all of the LA-mansion vibes you would expect, including a big backyard and a pool and whatever else. It’s very clearly private property, and in some kind of gated community (which is why paparazzi can’t stake out the mansion and sit outside of the property in their cars). So the paps have got drones flying overhead and sometimes the drones get photos of Harry, Archie and Meghan, and then those photos get sold to British or European magazines and papers. And now the Sussexes are suing:
They stepped away from their royal duties and left Britain. But Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, contend in an invasion of privacy lawsuit filed on Thursday in California that they haven’t been able to escape the paparazzi, who the couple accuse of using drones and telephoto lenses to take unauthorized photos of their son, Archie. The photos show the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their 14-month-old son in the backyard of a secluded estate in the Los Angeles area where the family has been staying since earlier this year, the lawsuit said.
The defendants were not named in the lawsuit because the couple do not know who took the photos, according to the complaint, which listed the defendants as John Does. The couple’s lawyer is seeking to subpoena people who may have knowledge about the intrusions. Prince Harry and Meghan are suing under a so-called paparazzi law in California, under which a person can be held liable civilly for airspace intrusions to take photographs of a person on private property. The lawsuit is the latest clash between the British royal family and the media over privacy issues.
“The plaintiffs have done everything in their power to stay out of the limelight — except in connection with their work, which they freely admit is newsworthy,” the lawsuit said. “But the photos at issue are not news. They are not in the public interest. They are harassment.”
The couple have retained the lawyer Michael J. Kump, whose other clients have included Kim Kardashian West.
“Every individual and family member in California is guaranteed by law the right to privacy in their home,” Mr. Kump said in a statement on Thursday. “No drones, helicopters or telephoto lenses can take away that right.”
Prince Harry and Meghan discovered that someone was shopping photos of their son and had claimed they had been taken on a recent public outing in Malibu, according to the lawsuit, which said that Archie had not been out in public since the family arrived in Southern California.
“It is one thing for parents to share photos of their children, on occasion, with supporters — particularly when doing so has the salutary effect of reducing the bounty on their children’s heads,” the lawsuit said. “It is something else entirely to cede all control to photographers driven by commercial incentive alone. Simply put, it is the plaintiffs’ choice when and how to share photos of their son.”
The Times also notes that the Sussexes complained about the Daily Mail “publicized the location of the Los Angeles-area estate where they were staying.” Which is true, the DM has made that into Harry and Meghan’s formal title now: The Duke of Sussex Who Is Living In Tyler Perry’s LA Mansion. The Sussexes also installed “a large mesh fence to prevent the paparazzi from photographing them at the estate from a ridgeline,” but the paparazzi “have flown drones a mere 20 feet above the house, as often as three times a day, to obtain photographs of the couple and their young son in their private residence… Others have flown helicopters above the backyard of the residence, as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 7:00 p.m., waking neighbors and — their son, day after day. And still others have even cut holes in the security fence itself to peer through it.”
It’s illegal for Harry and Meg to shoot down drones in their “airspace,” although that would be an interesting experiment, especially when drones are a mere 20 feet away. Anyway, my feeling this whole time is that as soon as the British papers knew that the Sussexes had moved to LA, they sent paparazzi and tabloid reporters to the city to basically stalk Harry and Meghan 24-7. Just further evidence that the Sussexes do, in fact, need their security.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red.