Let’s look into his­to­ry and remem­ber the case when celebri­ties man­aged to defeat the paparazzi.

It’s always inter­est­ing to watch your favorite actress or singer go shop­ping for bread, tie a shoelace or walk hand in hand with a mys­te­ri­ous stranger — sim­ply because we are curi­ous to know how celebri­ties behave in every­day life.

Paparazzi filmed Princess Car­o­line get­ting into the car after shop­ping, 1980 / picclick.com

But where is the line between the life of a pub­lic per­son and the pri­vate life of a celebri­ty? This ques­tion was the basis of the strug­gle of Princess Car­o­line of Mona­co against the paparazzi who con­stant­ly pur­sued her.

What was the crux of the matter

The 64-year-old daugh­ter of famous Amer­i­can actress Grace Kel­ly and Prince Rainier III of Mona­co has been cam­paign­ing in var­i­ous Euro­pean coun­tries for more than 10 years, fight­ing against the pub­li­ca­tion of pho­tos of her per­son­al life.

She lived main­ly in France, and on the ter­ri­to­ry of this state, the pri­or con­sent of the princess was nec­es­sary for the pub­li­ca­tion of any pho­tographs where she was not at an offi­cial event.

How­ev­er noth­ing got in the way take pho­tographs in France and then pub­lish them in anoth­er coun­try, such as the UK or Ger­many, where the pub­li­ca­tion of such pho­tos is jus­ti­fied in the “pub­lic inter­est”.

Pho­to of Princess Car­o­line of Mona­co going for a walk / ebay.ie

The princess sev­er­al times unsuc­cess­ful­ly filed an injunc­tion in the Ger­man courts against the fur­ther pub­li­ca­tion of a series of pho­tographs that appeared in the 1990s in the Ger­man mag­a­zines Bunte, Freizeit Revue and Neue Post.

She claimed that they vio­lat­ed her right to pri­va­cy and the right to con­trol the use of her image. In the pho­tos, the princess was involved in such innocu­ous activ­i­ties as ski­ing, shop­ping, leav­ing a restau­rant, or just walk­ing.

Court in Germany

In 1999, the Fed­er­al Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court of Ger­many issued a land­mark deci­sion: the princess, who is undoubt­ed­ly a mod­ern “pub­lic fig­ure”, must endure pub­li­ca­tion of their own pho­tographs in pub­lic places, even if they were frames that cap­tured scenes from her dai­ly life, and not offi­cial, state

The court explained that the vio­la­tion of her right to pri­va­cy was based on the free­dom of the press and the pub­lic’s legit­i­mate inter­est in know­ing how an impor­tant per­son to the state usu­al­ly behaves in pub­lic.

Princess Car­o­line with her grand­son Raphael / worldroyalfamily.blogspot.com

European Court of Human Rights

The princess then filed a law­suit with the Euro­pean Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Stras­bourg, argu­ing that the deci­sions of the Ger­man courts vio­lat­ed her right to pri­va­cy and her right to respect for fam­i­ly life, which are pro­tect­ed by the Con­ven­tion.

The court ruled that the pub­li­ca­tion by Ger­man mag­a­zines of pho­tographs of the Princess in her dai­ly life, alone or with oth­ers, did indeed fall with­in the scope of her pri­vate life. Thus, it was decid­ed that the Con­ven­tion was applic­a­ble.

The real prob­lem was how and where to bal­ance the need to pro­tect the pri­va­cy of the Princess with free­dom of expres­sion, which is also guar­an­teed by the Con­ven­tion.

Princess Car­o­line and French actor Vin­cent Lin­don / flickr.com

The Court held that while free­dom of expres­sion also extend­ed to the pub­li­ca­tion of pho­tographs, this was an area in which the pro­tec­tion of the rights and rep­u­ta­tions of oth­ers took on par­tic­u­lar impor­tance:

“The present case is not about the dis­sem­i­na­tion of “ideas”, but images con­tain­ing very per­son­al or even inti­mate infor­ma­tion about a per­son. In addi­tion, the pho­tographs appear­ing in the tabloid press are often tak­en in an atmos­phere of con­stant harass­ment, which makes the per­son feel dis­turbed by the strong feel­ings of pri­va­cy being invad­ed or even harassed.

6 reasons why Princess Caroline was right. Opinion of the ECtHR:

  • In the present case, the pho­tographs depict­ed the Princess in a moment of her dai­ly life and thus she was involved in activ­i­ties of a pure­ly pri­vate nature;
  • It turns out that the pho­tos were tak­en with­out her knowl­edge or con­sent, and in some cas­es secret­ly;
  • It was clear that the footage did noth­ing to con­tribute to a dis­cus­sion of pub­lic inter­est, as the princess in the pho­to was not on offi­cial duty;
Actor Gad Elmaleh with Princess Car­o­line / fashionassistance.net
  • While the gen­er­al pub­lic may have had a right to infor­ma­tion, includ­ing, in spe­cial cir­cum­stances, about the pri­vate lives of pub­lic fig­ures, in this case they did not have such a right;
  • The Court con­sid­ered that the pub­lic had no legit­i­mate inter­est in know­ing the where­abouts of the princess or her behav­ior in pri­vate, even if she appeared in places that could not always be called seclud­ed and which were well known to the pub­lic;
  • The Court affirmed the fun­da­men­tal impor­tance of pro­tect­ing pri­va­cy “in terms of the devel­op­ment of the per­son­al­i­ty of each per­son” and stat­ed that every­one, includ­ing per­sons known to the pub­lic, should have the “legit­i­mate expec­ta­tion” that his or her pri­va­cy will be pro­tect­ed.

How did it all end?

In 2004, Princess Car­o­line of Mona­co won a land­mark Euro­pean Court of Human Rights rul­ing that it was ille­gal to pub­lish paparazzi pho­tos of the princess in a pub­lic place. vio­la­tion of her rights to pri­va­cy.

Accord­ing to the ECtHR, Ger­man courts did not strike a fair bal­ance between the inter­ests of the pub­lic and the pri­vate life of a famous per­son.

The fight between Princess Car­o­line and the paparazzi has prompt­ed courts across Europe to take a tougher stance on the pub­li­ca­tion of images of celebri­ties who do not per­form offi­cial func­tions or attract pub­lic atten­tion.

Interesting fact

The five-year-old daugh­ter of Princess Car­o­line of Mona­co received a record £53,000 com­pen­sa­tion from the Ger­man Supreme Court in 2004 after mag­a­zines pub­lished pho­tos of her with­out her fam­i­ly’s per­mis­sion.

This is believed to be one of the high­est sums “ever award­ed to a minor in a Ger­man press rights tri­al”.