The couple allege drones and helicopters have been deployed by paparazzi to take unlawful photos of them and their 14-month-old son in the privacy of their residence.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry haven’t escaped the paparazzi since leaving the U.K. — in fact, they’re now suing for invasion of privacy over illegal images they say were taken of their young son in their own backyard.
The former royals and recent California residents are suing because of “serial intrusions on the privacy of a 14-month-old child in his own home, and the desire and responsibility of any parent to do what is necessary to protect their children from this manufactured feeding frenzy,” according to a complaint filed Thursday in L.A. County Superior Court by Michael Kump of Kinsella Weitzman.
After stepping back from their position as senior royals, in part, to escape U.K. tabloids, the couple and their son moved to a small town in Canada. Then, according to the suit, the Daily Mail published their exact location and the paparazzi descended. So, they moved again, this time to a gated community in the Los Angeles area. Again, the Daily Mail put out the address of their residence and, again, the paparazzi flocked to their home — and this time they’re using drones and helicopters.
“Some paparazzi and media outlets have flown drones a mere 20 feet above the house, as often as three times a day, to obtain photographs of the couple and their young son in their private residence,” writes Kump in the complaint, which is posted below. “Others have flown helicopters above the backyard of the residence, as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 7:00 p.m., waking neighbors and their son, day after day. And still others have even cut holes in the security fence itself to peer through it.”
The couple ignored it until they learned that photos of their son, Archie, purportedly taken in public, were being shopped. Kump says Archie hasn’t been in public, let alone in Malibu where the photos were supposedly taken. He argues the images are intentionally mislabeled because unsolicited photos of a young child in their own home are illegal.
The duke and duchess of Sussex don’t know who took the photos or who is trying to sell them. So they’re suing John Doe defendants, both in hopes of finding out their identities and also to put potential buyers on notice that the photos were taken illegally. They’re asking the court to order the defendants to turn over all of the photographs and enjoin them from further unlawful conduct and harassment. They’re also seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
“The Plaintiffs have done everything in their power to stay out of the limelight except in connection with their work, which they freely admit is newsworthy,” writes Kump. “But the photos at issue are not news. They are not public interest. They are harassment. The sole point to taking and/or selling such invasive photos is to profit from a child.”
Kump on Thursday also issued a statement on behalf of his clients. “Every individual and family member in California is guaranteed by law the right to privacy in their home,” it reads. “No drones, helicopters or telephoto lenses can take away that right. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are filing this lawsuit to protect their young son’s right to privacy in their home without intrusion by photographers, and to uncover and stop those who seek to profit from these illegal actions.”