Sophie is perhaps better known as the Countess of Wessex, the wife of the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward. In 1999 The Sun published a topless photo of her taken in 1988 amongst private friends.
This incident occurred in the aftermath of the media hyperbole that pursued Princes Diana right up to the moment that she died. This was a point that Chris Tarrant, who was photographed with the topless Ms Rhys-Jones, highlighted when he asked the media, “haven’t you learnt anything from the death of Princess Diana?”
On this occasion The Sun was quick to apologise saying, “We clearly upset Miss Rhys-Jones. I have therefore decided to apologise to her and to the Palace. No more pictures of Ms Rhys-Jones would appear in the paper”.
Standards have, to a limited extent, improved since then. As Dan Sabbagh writing in the Guardian comments:
“a year or so before its closure, the News of the World considered whether to publish pictures of a topless Jennifer Anniston, but concluded after consulting with the Press Complaints Commission that it was not worth doing so because the images had clearly been taken without consent”.
Indeed, it is this point of permission which makes this article on the Guardian blog that accuses the tabloids of hypocrisy as they continue to run page 3 girls whilst condemning the photos of Kate so laughable. The blog states:
“The Sun… sees no hypocrisy in supporting the duke and duchess’s bid to sue the photographer responsible for snapping Kate’s chest in a Sun Says editorial – just a couple of pages after printing a picture of Kelly, 22, from Daventry with her own breasts exposed”.
This is because Kelly, 22, from Daventry (odd second name) chose to be photographed topless in full knowledge where the photos will end up. A far cry from Kate’s circumstances.
This Guardian blog misses the opportunity to highlight just how hypocritical our tabloids still are though. There is some clear hypocrisy going on here that should be highlighted.
Richard Desmond (aka Dirty Des) commented when his Irish Daily Star published the photos of Kate saying, “I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture. The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever”
However you look at it, Dirty Des is being hypocritical here.
Does he have a problem publishing tits? As Conrad Clack commented in Telegraph, “ the Express was ‘run by a pornographer and a couple of ex-convicts”. Ouch, although of course partially true. As the Independent pointed out when profiling Desmond, he has overseen such publications as “as Asian Babes and Horny Housewives”. So, no problem with publishing tits then.
How about press standards and privacy? Well, he has removed all of his publications from the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) which he describes as a “useless body run by people who want tea and biscuits”.
This might be because the PCC has upheld complaints against Desmond’s publications on six separate occasions including, “for printing pictures of JK Rowling’s eight-year-old daughter in swimwear; for encouraging photographers to harass Prince William; and for an intrusion into the private lives of survivors of the Dunblane massacre which was “so serious that no apology could remedy it”.
In short Richard ‘Dirty’ Desmond, the pornographer, is upset that one of his publications ran photos of Kate’s tits. I wonder if Desmond is as upset about the ‘intrusion into the private lives of survivors of the Dunblane massacre which was so serious that no apology could remedy’.
The sceptic in me might suggest that he is this upset because his flagship publication The Daily Express (notorious for its dodgy reporting) is staunchly pro-royalist. Could Desmond’s newfound morality be a move to protect his main publication?
Tits, tabloid spin and hypocrisy. It doesn’t look like things have moved on that much since the late 90s.