Media clampdown to recover 'royal mystique'

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The Independent Online
The Royal Family is planning to restrict media access in a move to "recover the mystique" of the monarchy and regain credibility in the face of increasingly hostile public opinion.

A source close to Buckingham Palace said the Queen was "pulling down the shutters", after deciding that the family had received far too much exposure.

After two highly publicised television interviews in which both the Prince and Princess of Wales admitted adultery, the Queen is said to want fewer members of the Royal Family on display, and for their lives to be less open to press scrutiny.

An early indication of the new approach came with the announcement that the photographers and journalists allowed to cover the Royal Family at the Christmas morning service at Sandringham had been halved, compared with last year.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said yesterday that the number of press allowed in to the 11am service at Sandringham Church had been halved from 40 to 20. She refused to comment but said that "obviously various views had been sought and a decision has been made". She added that press coverage was "not traditional at all. It has never been an open position [for the press] because it's basically on private property."

But James Whittaker, royal correspondent of the Daily Mirror, said that access to the family had once been "open" and was now getting tighter.

"It's been changing for some time. Now they are certainly only allowing a few people in. There are a number of paparazzi operators who are not allowed a rota [an access agreement] at all. They've been banned," he said.

Geoff Webster, picture editor of the Daily Mail, said he had been surprised by the new restricted rota.

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