British tabloid newspapers opted not to publish paparazzi pictures of Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton on Saturday after he complained they had been aggressively pursued by photographers.
William, second in line to the throne, said that paparazzi had chased the couple on motorbikes and in cars as they were driven away from a London nightclub, just days after an inquest opened into his mother’s death in a high-speed crash.
Princess Diana and her lover Dodi al-Fayed were killed when their Mercedes limousine crashed in a Paris tunnel in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi.
“Having already been photographed leaving a club, he and Kate Middleton were then pursued in his car by photographers on motorcycles, in vehicles and on foot,” the prince’s press secretary Paddy Harverson said in a statement.
“This aggressive pursuit was potentially dangerous, and worrying for them. It seems incomprehensible, particularly at this time, that this behavior is still going on.”
Photographers had massed outside the exclusive Boujis nightclub, hoping to capture the couple together in public for the first time since they rekindled their on-off relationship.
Alessandro Copetti, whose pictures of the couple in their car were used by some papers, said there had been no initial chase.
“When the car drove off first time, nobody followed,” he told BBC radio. “A few minutes later the car … decided to come back and drive in front of some photographers, who … made the wrong decision to follow and chase at that point.”
After the prince’s complaint, the Daily Mail newspaper withdrew one of the paparazzi photos it had planned to use on its front page, substituting it with a picture of the couple taken at an earlier date.
The Daily Mirror and Daily Express also decided not to use the photos although the mass-selling Sun newspaper did publish Copetti’s pictures, arguing they had been taken before the couple’s car had left.
In a statement the Press Complaints Commission, the industry body that oversees the media, warned editors not to publish photographs which were taken through harassment.
Williams and Middleton have faced intense media attention since they met while studying at St Andrews University in Scotland in 2001.
Middleton was mobbed by photographers and camera crews as she left her London home on her 25th birthday, and she complained to the press watchdog earlier this year after the Daily Mirror published a picture of her walking to work.