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God save our gracious Kim Kardashian

By Jules Quartly ( China Daily ) Updated: 2012-09-18 10:25:50

God save our gracious Kim Kardashian

My reaction to seeing naked pics of Kate Middleton was to hum the British anthem, "God save our gracious Queen."

It is the first time I, or any other British subject, have seen our future queen's breasts so publicly displayed (they look much the same as your average housewife's, btw); or indeed, the future king bending over his prostrate wife, thong halfway down her butt, while he applies sunscreen on her nether regions.

I'm undecided whether it's a new high or a fresh low for the media.

On the one hand, you have to admire the photographer's pluck and camera equipment, since he took the picture from a distance of 1.6 km, from a grassy knoll overlooking the Provence chateau where the couple was holidaying in France.

On the other hand, privacy laws are supposed to protect individuals from being hunted down by paparazzi, voyeurs, stalkers and suchlike. The oft-quoted example is that if a reporter is hanging out of a tree and taking shots of an individual in the privacy of home, then this is not acceptable.

Otherwise, all of us are liable to suffer the indignity of being caught out in a compromising position and being publicly humiliated.

While Prince Harry was effectively paid $50,000 to advertise the Encore Wynn resort in Las Vegas when he showed off his crown jewels to the world, Middleton and her royal beau were on the private property of a relative trying to enjoy their privacy.

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Therefore, the argument of most editors goes, Harry's right to privacy could be waived, while Middleton's should not.

Note: The British press (with the exception of The Sun) did not print Harry's photos, or Middleton's. The rest of the world gleefully published or posted.

After the Provence pics were published in France, the royal PR machine put out some lovely stage-managed photos of Prince William and his wife in sunny Borneo, one showing them grimly smiling while rappelling down a large tree.

To me they look like stills from the game show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, which reinforces the notion that the pair are well-paid aristocratic actors - fair game from a public interest point of view. Since the British public pays for them, it has a right to expect good public relations.

The most similar case in China would be photos of Zhang Ziyi wearing little more than a bikini and at times less, practicing yoga positions while on a private beach with her lover.

Zhang made a justified fuss about privacy and threatened to sue, but the consensus was she could look after herself. She is, after all, an actress who makes an impressive living from her image and is painfully aware she is to a certain extent public property.

As they say, publicity is a double-edged sword. You can't just turn it off when you don't want it anymore. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

So, maybe the royal couple should have been less naive, realizing the public interest in their private lives, if they didn't want to risk their private parts being splashed all over the Web.

But, maybe they were trying to upstage Prince Harry at his own game? It occurs to me the royal family is like a reality-TV show, ready to literally throw itself out of a helicopter for the cause of public entertainment and self preservation. I guess the show should be called The House of Windsor, and subtitled, A House of Cards.

And every reality show kind of requires a sex tape. It was the making of Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Tulisa Contostavlos. Singer Robbie Williams says he has one career regret and that is not making a sex tape when he was in his prime.

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Here in China it is much the same. An ex supposedly reveals a car show model's sex tape and she's suddenly hot property. It happens so often now that the public, netizens for the most part, are suspicious and wonder aloud if it is just another fake promotion, another con.

Middleton has become popular and an object of sympathy, with just one set of photos. Perhaps they were calculated to make "her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us"?

I suspect not, but stranger things have happened.

Contact the writer at julesquartly@chinadaily.com.cn.

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