Royal paparazzi taste their own medicine

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Several royal photographers had a taste of press harassment yesterday as newspapers tried to discover which of them had received warning letters from Buckingham Palace.

The Queen's lawyers have written to four photographers asking them to "desist" from encroaching on the privacy of the royal family during its traditional annual summer holiday at Balmoral. The palace has stressed that the move is "completely separate" from the injunction that the Princess of Wales obtained on Thursday against freelance photographer Martin Stenning.

Those paparazzi who were rumoured to be on the hit-list were unusually reticent about receiving a royal warning to "desist" from intrusive antics. One said primly: "I never comment about this sort of thing. I know nothing about it. I have read what the papers say, but that's all. I have been to one of the royal events today, but that is all I will say."

Another freelance, known for his talents with a long lens, was even less willing to talk. "Look, love, I'm not going to discuss my colleagues or whether they have received anything. That's the way it is," he said before switching off his mobile phone.

A palace spokeswoman said legal action was being considered, although she would prefer the four to desist willingly. She said: "You are talking about private property and what we have had over a number of years is photographers who have used public-access roads to take photos of the royal family when they are enjoying private time and on their own property."

The letters were sent about two weeks ago on behalf of the Balmoral estate, which is owned by the Queen. The four were told not to enter the estate without written permission and had until yesterday to sign an undertaking agreeing to this. If they refuse, an injunction will be sought to keep them out of an "exclusion zone" around the estate.