Paparazzi bow to the Royals after Prince's plea for privacy

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The Independent Online

On Tuesday morning, there were more than two dozen photographers outside Kate Middleton's home, waiting for her to leave for work on her 25th birthday. Yesterday, there were just two, watched by a small crowd of reporters waiting to see exactly how many photographers would arrive.

The drop in the number of photographers suggested the media had responded to the plea on Tuesday from Clarence House for them to stop harassing the girlfriend of Prince William. Lawyers for Ms Middleton have also written to newspapers reminding them of the Press Complaints Commission's code of conduct.

Some restraint was evident across the coverage in yesterday morning's newspapers, with only the Daily Star using a photograph by a recognised paparazzi agency, Solarpix. The BBC also removed a series of paparazzi-style pictures of Ms Middleton from its website.

Increasing media attention has been focused on Ms Middleton amid speculation that her engagement to the Prince, also 25, is imminent. They have been together for three years.

Clarence House expressed satisfaction yesterday at the media backing off. A spokesman said: "We hope the coverage will convince people to leave her alone."

Clarence House made it clear it considered anything involving Ms Middleton's personal life, such as her home, work or shopping, was out of bounds, while accepting that visits to parties or nightclubs could not always be seen in the same fashion.

Some newspapers yesterday used photographs taken outside Ms Middleton's home, in circumstances which Clarence House would consider private. The Daily Mail said its pictures were taken by the Press Association, AP and Getty Images, although Getty also specialises in "snatched" paparazzi-style shots, as well as staged celebrity pictures.

The Daily Express also said its pictures were by the Press Association. The Times also used a Press Association picture, while The Sun used a picture taken at Prince William's passing out ceremony; both are part of News International, which has said it will not use paparazzi-style pictures.

A spokeswoman for the Press Association said it had attended Ms Middleton's home for the first time on Tuesday, "because it was an exceptional event". The spokesman said: "We knew that one of the big stories of the day would be the relationship between Ms Middleton and the media and felt this warranted coverage."

One of the photographers outside Ms Middleton's home yesterday worked for WENN, a celebrity agency which boasts on its website: "We deliver the paparazzi-style pix so favoured by publications around the world."

Owen Beiny, its director of operations, said they had been outside her house every day for the past month. "We are not doing anything illegal," he said. But he condemned freelancers who "got in the face" of Ms Middleton, after one such photographer was pictured yesterday with her camera only a foot or so away from Ms Middleton's face.

What the papers say about publishing photographs of Kate Middleton

* Express Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Express, the Sunday Express and the Daily Star said: "The policy of all our newspapers is to exercise caution and restraint on pictures of Kate Middleton whether taken by the paparazzi photographers these newspapers have supposedly banned, our own photographers or anyone else."

* News International, publisher of The Sun, the News of the World, The Times, and The Sunday Times said it would not use paparazzi pictures. The group, whose executive chairman, Les Hinton, is chairman of the Press Complaints Commission's code of practice committee, said it would still use pictures of Ms Middleton taken by their own photographers or agencies abiding by the code.

* Trinity Mirror - which owns the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and The People - declined to comment. The Mirror was the only paper not to carry a word on the story yesterday.

* The Daily Mail said it would abide by the Press Complaints Commission guidelines. "[The Daily Mail] will do nothing likely to cause distress or upset to Miss Middleton and will always act responsibly in respect of any photographs taken of her."