join the discussion
In the 1990s,  unwritten rules of privacy gave way to a free-for-all regarding the royal family's private life. Where do they go from here? What should be the balance between what is public and what is private and out of bounds?


share your thoughts






Dear FRONTLINE,

Diana and the whole Royal family should stay away from the press. They should have kept themselves aloof as misunderstood rich people rather than glamorous celebrities who air out familial dirty laundry and do publicity stunts.

I am angered by relentless photographers taking intrusive pictures. The program clearly showed the animalistic nature of the press. My major complaint is that all the interviews with press leadership revealed a spirit of invincible superiority. I never picked up on sorrow for past practices or any regret or apologies. I hope that Frontline's journalistic integrity is not clouded by a too forgiving spirit of the tabloid press.

Glendale, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I saw your Frontline documentary on the Media and the Monarchy. I am a Canadian Monarchist. I hope people realize how evil the press can be. Rupert Murdoch's treasonous attempts to bring down the Monarchy are at the heart of the recent tragedy. The press seems to have forgotten that the Royals are also human beings. These seven photographers now know what it is to be stalked, they seem to think it is unfair. Perhaps they should have realized how unfair it is to stalk the Royal Family. We must all try and stop buying this trash and maybe these monsters will top producing it.

God save the Queen
Roy Eappen

Dear FRONTLINE,

The royal family is to be commended for all they have done to share their story with the people via the press. Princess Diana found herself in a situation in which she had no choice but to do exactly what she did and we love her. Sure there were times when she liked to have her picture taken and other times when not, we all can identify with that. The hounding by the paparazzi following her every move was wrong and criminal. They should have been subject to arrest and paying such a price that it would be unprofitable to pursue. Also in front of hotels like the one in Paris, the police should simply be called and the press cleared away and they should lose all opportunity of photographs if they overstep designated areas away from the celebrity and the car. If any of the press breaks rank, they should be arrested immediately and fined stiffly. This paparazzi press should be controlled.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I enjoyed the "Princess and the Press" very much. I was expecting another fawning report or expose on the Royal Family and was pleasantly surprised to find a discussion of the media and its relation to a public person. As a product of the 60s myself, I am well aware that the boundaries between our public and private lives have almost faded to invisible. Unfortunately, Diana never understood that.

The only criticism I have is one of omission. I thought there should have been some discussion of the differences between the privacy laws in Britain, Europe and the United States.

Juliana Pasko
Vancouver, B.C. Canada
jcpasko@dowco.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

It was as if, in exploring the relationship between the media and the Monarchy in Britain, Frontline really aimed to expose what amounts to a cry from the British press for the public to understand its collective angst. The Press and the Princess views like a classical Greek tragedy: love, hate, jealousy, usury, infidelity - and then death.

This is really the story of an oedipal bonding where the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Prince Charles and even the Royal Family are in the end nothing but bit players in a sordid and sorry tale.

Rick Harris
rharris1@bconnex.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

I think there is a difference between the regular media, the tabloid press, and the paparazzi. Regular media is like the BBC interview, responsible. Tabloids media is the sensationalistic and usually false publication on celebrities, and though it is beyond ridiculous at times, it can be handled most times, even if it takes a law suit to do so. I see the major problem being with the paparazzi, because they seem to absolutely have no conscience about their pursuits or who they could be hurting.

I saw an interview with one of them, who was one of the prime freelance photographers who chased down Diana so frequently and callously. This man admitted to knowing that at times she did not want them around, and that she was hurt by them. He said he felt bad about that, but not bad enough to stop the pursuits. He was one of several who was hounding her even right after her father died and she was in mourning. He was also shown chasing her in his car with his partner. If they lost her, or in one case, when she actually ditched them (she was driving her own car that day), he got really angry and acted like she had no right to do that to him, and that everything was all her fault. It made me angry just watching this because it showed me that the man has no perspective about how to treat another human being, or how to do his job with any dignity.

The paparazzi are the sharks of the press world, and they should be at least legislated down to where they cannot hound a person to death. I think when someone point-blank tells you to stop or to leave, you should leave. People might be more cooperative at other times if these photographers weren't so merciless. I have no respect for these people, and I think they are all going to come to regret their shameful treatment of Diana and others. If not in this life, then afterwards.

Valerie A. Moore
Muskogee, OK
vmoor@iamerica.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

I did not really expect to like your program because I thought you would focus too much attention on Princess Diana's death. I am glad you focused more on the metamorphosis of the media's royal attention since the reign of King George. I am 39 and essentially "grew up and matured" along with Di. I admired her for the VERY reason that she is often criticized - the fact that she stood up to the monarchy who did not show their feelings and tried in every possible way to stymie each and every one of hers.

I did not know about the "other" famous princess who had constant media attention, e.g. Princess Margaret. I was quite surprised, but it did put a new perspective on Diana's relationship with the media - she WAS NOT the first British royal to exude some elegance/glamour and hence, spark a high amount of public interest. Our highly technical age, unfortunately, made it worse for Diana; however, I become incensed when I constantly hear her referred to as a major manipulator of the press. Buckingham Palace been THE BEST AND SECRET MANIPULATOR OF THE PRESS for the last few hundred years.

I strongly feel that when Di felt she was "trapped" or misunderstood by the royal family she turned to the press in self-defense. She needed the support of the people that she cared about to help her through those tough times. Excuse me, but if some huge public institution (backing my moron of a husband) was trying to label me "crazy" - I would try anything to defend myself. Her story by A. Morton was just that - a cry against the powerful palace machine. Her "Panorama" interview was another example. Diana was not stupid; she knew that interview would win her public support and let the monarchy know that she was NOT that 19 year old ingenue any longer, who was going to do whatever they wanted. I admire Di because she could have lived that loveless marriage, become queen, had lots of lovers, but sacrifice personal happiness in the end. She chose to be honest and that's why she will be remembered and loved long after Charles and his family (other than William and Harry) have long been forgotten.

Thanks for also showing that it was Queen Elizabeth II herself who first invited the camera in and really she is the one who wanted the world to see the royal family as real people - which is exactly what Diana succeeded in doing, much better I might add.

Phoenix, OR

Dear FRONTLINE,

A very interesting and disturbing look at the monarch and the press in Great Britain. It seems to me that even here in the United States, with all of our tabloid journalism in print and television, we either (1) have much less public interest at the indiscretions of our elected leaders and their families, or (2) a press that, by and large, shows more restraint.

Certainly, no one can say that the daily press sells papers by use of sensationalism. The supermarket weeklies perhaps, but I think most people find them a joke anyway -- or at least I hope so!

Ira L. Goldstein
Sun Valley, CA
ilgoldstein@prodigy.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

When the monarchy are in public, performing their 'duties', then they should, and do, expect to be in the public eye, with photographers, media, etc. However, I believe that when they are 'off duty' as it were, the Royal family should be left alone, and not be constantly harassed by photographers. The media is given plenty of opportunity to get their stories and pictures, without invading the privacy of these or anyone.

Temple City CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was hugely disappointed by the lack of insight, analysis or perspective not provided by this Frontline edition on Diana. As someone who spent most of my education and growing up year in British institutions, I was hoping to finally see after two months of waiting, some meaningful commentary on the impact of Diana as someone who was determined to change as best she could that most powerful of all British traditional institutions she had finally escaped from but which she still hoped her son might represent in a different way in the 21st century.

Instead, I was treated to the resumption of attacks from her longtime enemies in the "respectable" press--notably the likes of Max Hastings of The Times and Peregrine Worsthorne of the Telegraph, longtime and relentless enemies of the Princess. This might still have been useful, if at least their pontificating had been put in the wider context in belongs in, namely, who in the British establishment--the Court, the media, the political parties--line up on the side of the progressive image of monarchy Diana inevitably came to represent, and who are determined to keep the monarchy in the ossified, irrelevant state it is in?

The editors at Frontline had only to review the commentary from all quarters of British society to begin to put the pieces of this wider struggle in some perspective. Instead, the myopic focus on Diana and her final years of torment ignore these more important issues regarding the monarch, its image, its role and relevance in the future, for which Diana was a lightning rod. It was a great opportunity missed for what is usually such a fine television news program--the story of Diana and the broader meaning of her life at its end has yet to be told for this viewer.

Hal Peat
granite@mindspring.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

For sixteen years, I have been collecting anything about Diana. From those things that I collected, I learned a lot not only about Diana but also the Royal Family, Britain, society, and the media. In my knowledge, the Royal Family is one of two unluckiest preys (other is Monaco's Royal Family). Their hunters are the media and the readers.

Frontline made me think a little bit about the root of the relationship between the Royal Family and the media. True, once you open a door then the other doors will be open. I think the media in Britain should learn from Sweden, Spain (?), and Japan (YES!), for all of those countries have their own royal families. Japan may be better example of "good" relationship, however, Japan's Imperial Family may go the same path as the British Royal Family went.

Too bad, we killed one valued member. Hope this is a BIG lesson, not for Britain nor USA, but for all over the world.

Stacy Wakefield
Platte City, MO
Sleepyrdhd@kcnet.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

I believe that Charles is disgraceful! He didn't love Diana in the first place. All he wanted to do was secure his duties as a royal and make sure there were heirs.

His sons, William and Harry are going to realize what a dog their father is, and understand the beauty, love and generosity Diana tried to teach them! I believe that these two young men will turn the monarchy on its head, and release of palace-full of complaints, grievances and anger upon their father, who chose a lifestyle of instability and adultery with the most ugliest woman...Camilla Parker-Bowles. How dare he do this! Diana's death was a result of his neglect and Camilla's ignorance to continue such a crooked deed. It was selfish on the part of Charles...and I believe...as a U.S. citizen, that Charles should not continue his duty to become King.

Anyway...the entire monarchy is a farce. I think William and Harry will see to it that they want to be more than just royalty...they want to be people.

Lisa
Tucson, Arizona
law@gci-net.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

Princess Diana succeeded at keeping the royal family from sweeping her under the rug like another bad chapter in its history. Until Diana's arrival, the Windsors controlled the script. It was they who decided when they would "recognize" the very existence of Mrs. Simpson - in 1967. It was the Queen who was to ultimately decide who her own sister was to marry or divorce. It was allegedly the Queen who stage managed the marriage of her eldest son Charles. There are many other stories of royals who had to tow the line at the expense of their own humanity. Princess Diana's only sin was to refuse to "die" in the eyes of the world. Even though Edward VIII died in '72 and Mrs. Simpson in 1986, the royals sentenced them to death in '36. The idle lovers were dependent on his brother for relevance that he would not allow them. Princess Margaret seems to have taken a cue from her own sister to sit down and be quiet. Diana, however, lives on because she called the shots for herself and did not apologize to the Palace. Centuries-old tradition and protocol may have hampered her marriage to Charles but Princess Diana gained immortality by finally conquering it and showing the world a more humane side...

John L. Meeks, Jr.
Orange Park FL
john1974@southeast.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

The royals are certainly a commodity and part of the attraction of the country as a whole; however, they have a right to expect some privacy. Any public event is fair game, but all the sneaking and skulking to invade their privacy goes too far.

Unfortunately, the "young" royals have joined with the press to create this kind of tabloid journalism and the public has bought into it wholesale. There needs to be some restraint on all three parties. If the public would stop buying the magazines, the tabloids would stop paying exorbitant prices for the worse of the photos.

Martie Phelps
Raleigh, NC
A122044@aol.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

Frontline did an excellent job portraying the delicate balance between reporting and invasion of privacy. However, the public and the press are both guilty of being totally out of bounds in publishing the private scandals of the Royal Family. How can we ever forget those tapes? And how do they ever recover from such an invasion? We all have a lot to answer for.

Susan Feuille
Champaign, IL
kfeuille@uiuc.edu

Dear FRONTLINE,

The English royalty must realize that they live in the twentieth century, and that they are a vestige from another time that is just hanging on to survive. However, more and more so-called serious media(print and electronic) seem to be relying more and more on tactics thought used only by the tabloids. Rupert Murdoch seems to be operating his publishing empire in Britain as a bastion of anti-royal sentiment.

There must be some give-and-take on the part of both. The public's right to know must somehow be balanced with a person's right to some privacy. I am not smart enough to be able to make specific recommendations on how to accomplish this.

Roger Martin
Des Moines, IA
RDMartin36@aol.com




home .  join the discussion .  pictures .  bbc interview .  interviews .  readings
morton book controversy .  press & the royal family .  links .  press reaction .  tapes & transcripts

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation


pbs online
SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Losing IraqJuly 29th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS