Princes' privacy action is dropped after press deal

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ST JAMES'S Palace dropped two complaints to the press watchdog yesterday after the newspaper industry agreed a new set of guidelines on coverage of Prince William and Prince Harry.

The Press Complaints Commission issued guidance to newspapers on continuing to respect the privacy of the princes while they complete their education, but made a plea to the Palace to release more information about the boys to offset the need for papers to run trivial stories.

Last year St James's Palace complained to the commission about two newspapers - The Mirror and the Daily Star - under Clause 6 of the industry's code, alleging unauthorised intrusion into privacy. The Palace confirmed yesterday that the publication of the guidelines resolved its complaints and the commission will not, therefore, be required to adjudicate.

The purpose of the guidelines is to allow some coverage of the boys while ensuring they have their privacy protected. They say: "To begin with, the Palace should continue to recognise that there is a genuine public interest in the dissemination of a reasonable amount of information about the princes - and not just in rare, individual stories.

"They will need to try and offer real stories of interest about the princes as well as photo-opportunities.

"This, in turn, is likely to mean that fewer trivial, sensationalised stories actually appear: they themselves may be a symptom of a lack of genuine non-intrusive information."

The guidelines conclude: "At the same time, all newspapers should be aware of the problems posed by an accumulation of newspaper coverage of either of the royal princes - and, within the spirit of the code, seek a view about the likely impact of a particular story on one of the boys when assessing whether or not to publish a story." Guidance was originally issued in August 1995, before William started at Eton. But it was the death of the boys' mother,Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997, that ushered in a period of press self-restraint.