Royal fury as paparazzi 'preying' on Prince George
The paparazzi are using children to lure Prince George into view as they take increasingly desperate measures to capture lucrative images of the young royal, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have revealed.
The tactic is one of several "dangerous" and "distressing" methods detailed in an open letter published by the furious couple, warning that a line had been crossed.
The letter reveals that paparazzi had been found hiding on private fields and woodland at the family's Norfolk home, obscuring themselves in sand dunes to take photographs of Prince George playing with his grandmother, Carole Middleton, and monitoring the movements of the toddler, his nanny and other household staff around London parks.
It says that on one "disturbing but not at all uncommon" occasion, a photographer hid himself in a rented car near a children's farm play area, hanging sheets in the windows and stockpiling enough food and drink to get him through a full day of surveillance.
Police found the man lying down in the boot of the vehicle attempting to shoot photos with a long lens through a small gap in his "hide".
Royal insiders say Prince William in particular is desperate that "history should not repeat itself" and wants to protect both Prince George and Princess Charlotte from the kind of intrusion that his mother Princess Diana was subjected to.
He believes paparazzi in Paris were ultimately responsible for his mother's death in 1997, when her car crashed in an underpass following a pursuit by photographers on mopeds.
The letter, sent to 24 worldwide media industry watchdog bodies, says it is clear that Prince George has become the "number-one target" in the royal family for unscrupulous freelance photographers who sell their images abroad.
It states: "It is of course upsetting that such tactics -reminiscent as they are of past surveillance by groups intent on doing more than capturing images - are being deployed to profit from the image of a two-year-old boy.
"In a heightened security environment such tactics are a risk to all involved. The worry is that it will not always be possible to quickly distinguish between someone taking photos and someone intending to do more immediate harm."
The letter highlights the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's desire for their two young children not to have to "grow up exclusively behind palace gates and in walled gardens" and says they want them to be free to play in public and semi-public spaces with others without being photographed.
It says: "They know that almost all parents love to share photos of their children and they themselves enjoy doing so.
"But they know every parent would object to anyone - particularly strangers - taking photos of their children without their permission."
The letter thanks all British media organisations for refusing to publish unauthorised photographs but said a "handful" of international organisations were still willing to pay. (© Daily Telegraph, London)